We, Team ATPB, are concerned about the crisis in the fashion industry during this time of uncertainty. Throughout this new series, Fashion After COVID-19, we will follow up with independent fashion designers who may have been previously featured in our Designer Spotlight series. We look forward to sharing their unique points of view about how this will affect fashion and, by extension, their brand, in the long run. Many businesses have shut down, and small businesses are the most vulnerable, so it’s important to show up and support independent brands however we are able.
Fashion After Covid-19 With Stine Goya
Stine Goya is the embodiment of Danish fashion, which is more than a trend; it’s a lifestyle. Previously on Designer Spotlight, the model-turned–designer Stine Goya explained the essence of Scandinavian style and spoke candidly about the fashion industry and its flaws. As a prominent advocate of sustainability, she wants fashion to take responsibility and rethink its production model for the sake of the next generation. For All the Pretty Birds, Stine Goya continues to share her journey,explaining how she spent her time in quarantine to elevate her brand. The Danish designer reminds us that her eponymous label still empowers women to express themselves with playful,bold patterns and works on future programs to support racial equality and more opportunities for young designers.
Amanda Winnie Kabuiku: In this time of confinement, how do you perceive this situation weighing on Copenhagen?
Stine Goya: At first, it was challenging. From one day to the next, everyone’s way of living was entirely upended. There was a collective panic, not on the scale of the UK or US, but when facing the unknown, it is inevitable. The Danish government was quick to act, and I believe quite transparent with the measures we as individuals and businesses needed to take. So, Copenhagen quickly shut down to minimize risk. Now, I think there is a careful optimism in the air as shops, bars, schools, and offices begin to open. We are in a new phase, and it feels as though we are ready for it.
AWK: When it comes to fashion, what is most important? How do you stay in tune with your values as a designer over time, through a pandemic or shifting paradigm?
SG: The most important thing for me is staying true to my design DNA. I started this brand hoping to bring joy through color and print, and this is still something I strive towards post-Corona or otherwise. This time has been a blessing-in disguise; I feel as though I am more in tune with my creative process than I was 3-4 months ago. As designers, we create but often lose the space that allows a piece to come into its own. I’ve used this time to sit with my team and reevaluate our output and curate our designs. The main question was: What within the collection still resonates with these ideas of joy, of playfulness, of simplicity?
AWK: Having to slow down has made us understand that we’re all facing a global pandemic and that our habits must change imperatively, for the future of this planet, as well as for generations to come. How do you see the future of fashion? The future of your own brand?
SG: Ideas and rumblings of change have been lurking beneath the surface of the fashion industry for a while – the pace of the calendar, the discounting process, the waste & over-stock, the travel – these are not new issues. Still, the pandemic has rightfully accelerated our need to implement immediate change. I believe in the future; you will see tighter collection ranges, more sustainable materials, a focus on local markets/local business, and the end of industry titans – whether that be fast fashion brands or multi-door retailers. Consumer behavior is changing, and with the next generation increasing their market share, we need to adapt accordingly. If that means investing heavily in digitalization, then that is what we will do.
AWK: Can you please share the state of your business at the moment. Have you had to lay off staff? How are your online sales going?
SG: I believe, as a business, we are through the worst of it – we have seen the immediate impacts on our company and have re-strategized, refocused, and reevaluated for a range of possible future outcomes. None reflect where we imagined the business would be at this point 4 months ago, but they all give a realistic road map of the changes we need to make to continue driving the company forward. Unfortunately, this has meant looking hard at our budgets and making tough decisions by cutting staff. We have decided not to show for the next year (SS21 & AW21) and to support our collection launches, not reallocate budget to hybrid digital campaigns.
However, with all of this internal change going on, our online sales have been surprisingly resilient. The launch of Goya Gallery – our new archive offering – crashed our site for a few hours, proving that while habits may have changed, we need to keep fighting because demand is clearly out there.
AWK: Did you offer online shopping before the pandemic? How is your business faring with retailers? How did you adapt your shipping procedures to protect your staff and customers?
SG: Our e-commerce platform has been a key growth proponent in our business for the last few years. We were very fortunate that our distribution warehouse was able to streamline its operations to make sure our team was safe. The pace and rate of shipping slowed with fewer members of staff on site to comply with social distancing measures, but we were still able to fulfill our orders and offered no-contact direct to door delivery for all customers.
AWK: What is the flow of work at your design studio? How did you feel creatively considering the moment?
SG: I feel invigorated; actually – I am ready to start looking forward and implementing change within our design process. The evolution of pace gave my team and me an opportunity, and I don’t want to waste this new spark.
AWK: Have you been in contact with other designers or retailers? How are you supporting one another and the fashion community at the moment?
SG: The Danish fashion community is very tight-knit. I live around the corner from the creative directors of Ganni and Baum, so there has always been a strong sense of community, only encouraged by the situation. We’ve been honest with each other in terms of what we have been struggling with, and it’s refreshing to know that despite this competitive industry, we can be transparent.
AWK: In your opinion, what brands and retailers can do to spread the message about Anti-Racism and support racial equality in Denmark?
SG: It cannot be denied that the fashion industry is a critical proponent to systemic racism. The lack of diversity on runways, the lack of opportunities for black creatives, the lack of support given to black entrants into the industry, the lack of visibility given to black-owned brands on the shop floor – the list goes on. Looking critically at ourselves, we have realized we at Stine Goya do not do enough. It is our responsibility to not only spread the word about anti-racism but actively integrate initiatives into our organization so that we evolve and learn from this. Spreading the word and making industry professionals aware of their prejudices and privileges, however subtle, is only the first step. We are a huge industry that has the power to dictate trends and change history, wouldn’t it be amazing if we used that power for something bigger than our wardrobes?
AWK: Have you seen the open letter that Dries Van Noten spearheaded? What do you think, did you sign?
SG: From Day 1 of lockdown, our head of studio presented an alternate calendar for the team to consider – more true to season, shorter sales windows, shifted delivery dates and product drop, etc. so the open letter didn’t come as a surprise. I think it’s encouraging to see big brands and retailers sign it, but will they follow through? We do intend to shift our delivery drops, but as a Danish brand, we have always operated outside the four fashion capitals. Unless we have the support of CPHFW, all the DK brands, and our local retailers in their entirety, it will be difficult for us to execute fully.
AWK: How many collections did you show a year? How many do you expect to do now?
SG: We show four seasons per currently – PS / SS / PF / AW – and are considering what will work better for us going forward… offering two collections with possibly monthly drops? Or creating four smaller collections across less drops?
AWK: If you had to create only one piece, which would it be and why?
SG: A silk printed dress. It’s an absolute staple for me and represents my brand’s truest DNA – a simple, flattering silhouette in a bright and unexpected hand-drawn print.
Follow Stine Goya on Instagram for more @stinegoyastudio