Yva Alexandrova has two passions; one for helping people overcome poverty, the other for fashion. It took her many years, and a lot of determination, but now she has brought them together through her luxury fashion label Yvian.
“I have worked on a range of projects covering issues such as integration, poverty and livelihoods creation,” says London fashion designer Yva Alexandrova, “I have traveled and volunteered extensively throughout Africa and South Asia and have developed an awareness and understanding of the challenges people face in ensuring their existence and the importance of sustainable livelihoods.”
During a break between projects, Yva gave herself pause to think. Her passion for fashion re-emerged and propelled her to pursue a foundation course in Fashion Design at Central St. Martins. She evolved a vision for a social enterprise fashion business;
“I recognise the potential of the fashion industry to change lives and promote development and this is one of the most important drives for Yvian. Therefore the aim of Yvian is to grow into an ethical and self-sustainable business model.”
Towards the end of her course Yva created her first capsule collection that she later launched during London Fashion Week September 2011.
“This is my first collection and because it is evening wear it’s not necessarily seasonal, for now I’m doing one collection a year as I’m only a small company … The collection was inspired by Medieval Gothic architecture.”
A signature part of Yvian clothes is embellishment. Yva explains that:
“The embroidery came from a sculpture I really liked and so I stylized it to create this style of graphic embroidery. It is a sculpture by Rodin of The Gates of Hell, it is very fine and very detailed so I took details and lines from this sculpture,”
Once the designs were made the next question was manufacture:
“I am originally from Bulgaria. Bulgaria has a good textile industry and make good quality clothes and I have a lot of contacts there. It was a challenge to find a sustainable producer.”
She has gone through a rigorous product development process,
“I spent the first four months of this year in Bulgaria, The focus we have is on production because this is the biggest impact that the fashion industry makes is on the production side. We make sure that our manufacture is ethical in terms of working conditions and labour protections are in place for the workers.”
Sales have begun well after taking part in the Ecoluxe show rooms and recently the “Pop-up Shop” in London’s trendy Brick Lane area, but as she says, “I have to do better.” Looking forward to what 2013 brings, she is planning her next collection. As always her development ethics lies at the heart of creativity,
“What I would like to do is use the embellishment element and build something more development orientated to work with projects with communities and use this as a vehicle to train people with skills and empower them.”
To read the stories of other inspiring SPINNA women, click here.