“The city has a crowd with its own vibe… can you hear the crowd whispering? Lights, music, buildings, people. Can you feel the vibe? Can you hear the music play? Can you touch the screen? Somewhere out there, there is an Alternative Nation that wants to have fun, listen to sounds, dance to the music, look at the sky, explore, hope, live, love! If you tried hard, you could really hear the crowd whispering…”, says Evi Skarvelaki for her AW 13/14 collection and we can already hear the tune of the song “Disco 2000” by Pulp playing in our mind. Read about what drives her to the creation of her most original Pop Art Statement Bags!
How did you decide to start making and producing the Evisk bags?
I was born and raised in Heraklion, Crete which means that my mother and both my grandmas sewed and knitted almost everything. Embroidered pillows, lace patterns and “handmade” clothing were common sight in my life. I came back from London after my studies in International Affairs and worked as a journalist in my father’s newspaper called “Niki”. I enjoyed working as a journalist but as time went by my passion for handicraft started surfacing. I started by making simple bracelets and continued with painting and collage.
One of my favourite things to do was, collecting fabrics that were simply beautiful or keeping clothes and even pillows because there was a beautiful print on them. I used to think that at some point I would take advantage of them and time came when I started experimenting with all those “treasures” by giving them a new life. An old t-shirt was now a bag and a vintage belt had been turned into its strap. I also made jewellery out of them. Handicraft was at that time a pastime that took me away from routine and work at the newspaper. Together with my best friend we started making our first bags as a kind of stress reliever. However, as it always is with great loves, one thing led to the other. The paper changed hands in 2007, I was already looking for a way to get away from it and there was the chance I’d long been looking for to devote myself to what I loved ever since I can remember myself!
In the beginning sewing and stitching was done by my mother but because I am a perfectionist my bestie and I started experimenting on different techniques on the sewing machine in order to make bags and the one filled the other’s newly acquired knowledge. We developed our work step by step so as to offer our customers a product that was not only beautiful but also strong in time.
It is marvellous when people decide to turn their hobby into a carreer! How did you decide to make a passtime into a profession?
Truth is that after the first bags were completed I can still remember us looking at them not knowing what step to take next. Our dilemma was whether we were interested in doing all this just for the fun of it or in order to sell them. Creators never think about selling when creating. The answer to our dilemma came all on its own once more when we decided to take part at the Fall 2008 Meet Market bazaar. It was there that I met people who showed me the ways to taking my hobby into a more professional level. I remember there were many jewellery makers at the bazaar and since I wanted to stand out from the rest I decided to occupy myself exclusively with bag crafting.
In the beginning all fabrics used were vintage. As I’ve already said any fabric that struck me as interesting had been part of my collection, grandma’s knitwear, velvet pillows, clothing with beautiful fabrics I’d brought back from my journeys. Those first bags were clearly the most successful ones but when I decided to take my work to a more professional level I had to make a choice. Many were asking me for a particular bag that there was only one piece of and that caused problems. It was a hard decision to make but I knew why I was making it. All fabrics I use now are imported with one thing in common, their originality and uniqueness. My goal is to start manufacturing my very own fabrics so that my bags are totally unique.
Fabrics seem to be your inspiration. Is there anything else that triggers your imagination?
When it comes to inspiration, fabric is my number one source but nature and beautiful graphics play an important role as well. When you are a creator anything you see and feel is inspirational.
Do you ever think of the people who will be carrying your bags?
I think of my customers as far as quality is concerned but when I’m making a bag I never have in mind the woman who might be wearing it. I create a bag just like a painter, as if it were a piece of art. I’m interested in my bags exuberating a feeling. I’m more interested in somebody standing in front of it to admire it just like they would do for any artistic work. I wouldn’t wear them all because I strongly believe that being stylish means showing through what you are wearing who you are. I, though have to admit, feel nice when I see a girl carrying one of my bags especially if it is one of my older designs.
What is La Grèce J’aime to you, what do you love about Greece?
La Grèce J’aime is that of extremes. Total serenity when being close to nature and at the same time the hassle of the city. I love exploring the centre of Athens and knowing that I can grab a plane at any time and find myself after an hour or so to a magical beach in Crete away from it all. I love this feel we all have that at any time we can get away from it all and go to our hometown to start a new life planting tomatoes and cucumbers. If you think about it, all this gives us a sense of freedom which is invaluable!