Designer Interview

By: FashWire
Mar 08, 2024 10:53 AM

When did you know you wanted to become a designer?

Ever since childhood, I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer. My best friend’s mom took us to a runway show of French fashion designer Ines de la Fressange in Paris when I was 8 years old. I was really amazed and I immediately knew I wanted to be part of this world. Since then, I started drawing in sketchbooks and later on took art classes in high school at Ecole du Louvre. Then, I pursued a Fashion Design BFA at Parsons, followed by the Design Entrepreneur program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, in New York.


What was your previous work experience before launching your brand?

After I studied Fashion Design at Parsons (BFA) and then completed my studies with the Design Entrepreneurs MBA program at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, I did many internships including Marc Jacobs Accessories in New York, Jasper Garvida in London, and ThreeAsfour in New York. I then worked for the technical apparel brand Outdoor Voices, before launching my own label, ANISSA AIDA in 2016.


“I am primarily inspired by the culture of my home country, Tunisia, which is rich in heritage, knowledge, and traditional craftsmanship.”


What inspired you to name your brand?

Anissa is eponymous and Aida is a tribute to my sister who passed away about 10 years ago. She shared my passion for fashion.


What did the beginnings of ANISSA AIDA look like?

I launched Anissa Aida in March 2016. I had graduated about a year before from Parsons and had worked in New York for the avant-garde label Three Asfour as well as the athletic brand Outdoor Voices. Then, I took a break and went to my country of origin, Tunisia. There was a design gallery that had just opened named Musk and Amber. I had the chance to meet with the founder, who offered me the chance to design and produce a capsule collection of six looks exclusively. At the time, I was just coming back from a trip to Japan, and I decided to meld inspirations both from Tunisia and Japan. I presented this collection at Musk and Amber and right after, I was scouted by Fashion Scouts in London and invited to participate in London Fashion Week. I knew by then that I wanted to launch my own label and work on it full-time.


Where do you find inspiration?

I am primarily inspired by the culture of my home country, Tunisia, which is rich in heritage, knowledge, and traditional craftsmanship. Over three thousand years of history, this culture remained open to all civilizational inflows. ANISSA AIDA also explores the similarities between the traditional garments worn in North Africa and in the Middle East and those in the Far East: China, Japan, and Korea. Many guiding threads seem to link kimonos, jebbas, djellabas, caftans, and so forth: cuts, geometry, structure, textures, and colors have a common language to reflect traditions and modernity.


What made you want to design Arab silhouettes with an architectural edge?

My origins being Tunisian, North African, and Arab, as well as my family background being the daughter and wife of architects as well as my studies in design, inspired me to design Arab silhouettes with an architectural edge.


What sets your brand apart from the rest?

The concept of mixing and matching traditional Arab references with Japanese ones, as well as the artisans I work with to weave certain fabrics and handcraft the leather bags and other accessories.


“Maintaining high-quality, well-constructed, and durable products with quality fabrics and excellent finishings.”


Do you have a favorite piece that you have designed?

I am pretty happy with my latest collection and my favorite piece is the Swallow Wings Kimono, a kimono jacket with laser cut, then topstitched fabric manipulations, mimicking the Tunisian iconic ceramic tiles known as “Swallow Wings.” These geometric tiles, bicolor on the diagonal are representative of the Tunisian architectural heritage of the 19th century.


How would you describe the style you aim for your brand?

Slow fashion, minimalist, effortless.


What brand values are most important for ANISSA AIDA?

Authenticity, telling my own unique perspective. Doing things slow, producing limited editions in small batches, not over-producing. Preserving local ancestral skills through working with artisans. Maintaining high-quality, well-constructed, and durable products with quality fabrics and excellent finishings.


What is the one piece of advice you would give to a new designer?

Never give up! Follow your dreams.


What was the toughest circumstance you overcame when just starting your business?

The lack of financial funds. People trying to discourage you from running your own business. Difficulties in finding production facilities willing to produce small quantities. Last but not least, the Covid crisis.


If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career, what would it be?

To be patient. The best things happen to those who wait.


Do you have a passion other than fashion or design?

I love traveling and being immersed in different cultures.


What should consumers expect to see next from ANISSA AIDA?

More development of the artisanal aspect of my line, and maybe in the future a home line.


What is the most important thing you would like your brand to be recognized for?

Architectural cuts, comfortable clothing, and shades of blue.