Meet Tales of Anyday
What is sustainable fashion? Like the concept of style, the answer to this question is not straightforward. There's a tendency to focus on talking points and labels and figures, but in this process, much depth is lost. Introducing Brands Doing Better, a series aimed at enriching and humanizing the conversation on sustainability in fashion. The series will feature interviews with designers who are committed to producing fashion with integrity. You'll learn about inspiring designers, get an inside look into what motivates them, what they struggle with, what they believe in, and what they strive for. Through this intimate conversation, my hope is that we can see sustainability not as checklist or a scorecard, but as a genuine outgrowth of human conscience and curiosity; a part of a larger struggle we are collectively facing to reconcile our material desires with our moral demands.
The most significant thing that I could hope to come out of this series is a conversation. In the comments section below, please chime in. Share your opinion or your confusion. Ask questions. Celebrate the work. Or push back. As far as I can see, this kind of dialogue is what we all need to find a way to do better.
Kicking the series off is designer Sintija Avotniece with her Copenhagen-based label Tales of Anyday. As an emerging independent brand, hers is precisely the kind that holds promise for re-calibrating the fashion industry and shifting it in a more sustainable direction: away from the pursuit of more towards the pursuit of better. Meet Tales of Anyday.
How did you realize you wanted to be a fashion designer?
There was always a part of me that secretly dreamed about it. I grew up in Latvia after the fall of the Soviet Union. My mom always made her own clothes because under Soviet rule and for a while afterwards, you couldn’t exactly buy much. It was out of necessity, yes, but also out of her need to look and feel beautiful, which was so inspiring for me. Some of the garments she made I still wear today. But I didn’t come from a traditional arts background, so it was never anything more than a secret dream. In Latvia, the path to working in the arts or with anything creative is almost destined. You start from a very early age and continue onwards. Since that wasn’t my case, I felt like there was no way I could ever become a designer. And then one day, somehow all of the roads in my life just lead to it. I risk sounding cliché, but it really just happened. It has been a lot of hard work, and it still is, but some of it was not so intentional.
What motivated your commitment to sustainability in your work?
My first introduction to sustainability was informal- I just educated myself on the topic. I realized I loved it, and went on to complete a BA and an MA in Sustainable Fashion. It was really just clear to me that a sustainable practice was the only way possible for me to design and produce my collections with a clear conscience. I still have a long way to go to reach the level of sustainability that I want to achieve, but I see no other way forward. And I firmly believe this: what can be more beautiful than aesthetically appealing clothing that is also made with respect for nature and people?
One of the challenges is in defining sustainable fashion because it is such a complex topic that involves trade-offs and competing priorities. Vegans may wear synthetic materials to avoid animal byproducts; advocates for natural materials avoid synthetic materials at all costs. Both are trying to be more sustainable. What do you believe constitutes sustainable fashion?
Sustainable fashion is a very complex topic. What is sustainable for someone might not be for someone else. When it comes to fashion and sustainability, so many situations invite finger pointing, and I think there is no room for that. You never know the back story; you can never judge someone’s decisions without being in their position. What’s more useful from my perspective is for sustainability to be seen as a personal set of choices. In order for it to become universal, I think it has to be personal first. We should each define what is sustainable for ourselves in our own lives given our own values.
What makes Tales of Anyday a sustainable brand?
I try to incorporate sustainable values in many ways. I work with natural and environmentally friendly fabrics, and all of my clothing is made under fair conditions either in Denmark (where I produce some of the samples and pieces myself) or in Latvia.
I also strive to create designs that are sustainable from an aesthetic and functional point of view. Because design itself can also be sustainable if the garment is able to last more than just a season from an aesthetic perspective. I believe in producing quality clothes because it’s also sustainable for someone to be able to wear a piece regularly over a long period of time and for the piece to hold up. I collect all production cut-offs rather than disposing of them to turn them into wearable pieces. I try to create as little waste as possible because it is absolutely shocking how much waste is generated in the production of a garment.
As for the future, I plan on moving more into zero waste design and also experimenting more with natural dyes and printing methods. In general, there are so many sustainable qualities I want to introduce in my production, but it can be financially challenging to do that as an independent brand. So I’m trying to do my best one step at a time.
What do you think about the role consumption plays in our modern relationship with fashion?
Collectively, the way we consume has to change. Today it’s all about quantity. Many people feel like they need a new outfit for every occasion. Years ago, it was the opposite; you’d carefully select a beautiful dress and wear it on countless occasions for years and years. The trick was to transform it with creative accessories or to mix and match things in your closet—basically playing with style, whereas today, it’s all about fashion. And fashion by definition can’t be sustainable as it relates to current trends; it has a timed life cycle. So, perhaps the goal shouldn’t be sustainable fashion, since that's impossible, but sustainable style instead. Maybe the term “fashion” should be replaced with another word, like “apparel” or something else to shift us away from the idea that our clothes have to change all the time.
What is your philosophy as a human being, and how does that relate to your philosophy as a brand?
I believe in the beauty of simple things and life for me is in the here and now. Living in the moment is my ultimate goal and it intimately reflects in my designs. I am always working to make clothes that foster a connection to the present moment. I don’t believe in saving clothing for special occasions; I make clothes to be worn now. Because, really, there are no special days; life is happening right now and I find a lot of beauty in that simple truth.
What should fashion do for women?
Fashion should inspire women, it should make them feel beautiful and comfortable in their own skin. It should also allow a woman to express her personality. And fashion should be for no one else but the woman who wears it.
In the 1950s and 60s, one of the philosophies behind Danish design was that beautiful things enhance our everyday lives. That is something I believe in very much. So fashion should also enhance the beauty of our everyday lives.
What is style?
Style is a reflection of one’s personality, a form of self expression.
What is your personal approach to getting dressed?
My wardrobe consists of favorite pieces and basics that I can easily mix and match. A lot of what I wear are samples of my own designs, which I wear to test. As soon as I make a piece of clothing, I want to know how it feels against the skin, how easy it is to take care of it, and so forth, so I test my garments myself.
What I wear depends a lot on the day and my mood. I have some days where I find an outfit that I love and basically wear the same thing over several days. Then other days I feel like wearing something a bit different or mixing more random things together from my closet.
When it comes to buying new pieces, I try to be really strict with myself and strategic (apart from random finds from vintage shops or while traveling). I try to buy things I can wear over many seasons and mix with pieces that have a story of how and where I got them. This way my clothing becomes more personal and I don’t feel the need to change my wardrobe every season because it’s like a part of me.
What do you want a woman to feel wearing Tales of Anyday? What do you want her to know about the clothes you've made for her?
I want her to feel like herself. I design the clothes to make women feel comfortable and beautiful in their own skin. I would like her to know that I’d be very happy if she treasures the clothing for a long time. My intention is not and will never be to sell huge amounts of clothing, but instead to sell clothing that women feel compelled to keep in their closet for years. And of course, I want her to know that I stand for respecting the people around us and our beautiful environment.
What is one thing you dream of a woman wearing Tales of Anyday to do?
I dream of women wearing Tales of Anyday to appreciate the little things in life. It’s so easy for those to pass us by, so my dream is to create clothing that women feel so relaxed and comfortable and confident in that they can be truly present. I imagine friends meeting on a random Wednesday and making time during the busy week to connect and laughing together wearing my clothes. That would make me very happy. Of course, I also dream of the women who wear my clothes sharing the same values of respecting other people and the environment and spreading them in the world.