ARTIST INTERVIEW: Aliya Wanek
Company: ALIYA WANEK
Artist: Aliya Wanek
The EPCF is delighted to welcome Aliya Wanek and her clothing line to the Fair for the very first time this season.
Founded in 2016, ALIYA WANEK is an eponymous womenswear label that focuses on exploring the connection between one’s identity and style. Their mission is to create comfortable, stylish clothing, ethically and sustainably as an extension of the wearer’s individuality. If not sewing the garments herself, Aliya works with a production sewer and other local contractors in the Bay Area to produce and dye her garments, always taking into consideration ways to reduce the brand’s environmental impact.
Tell us about your current work and how that work has evolved since you first started your business?
When I first started the business, I was sewing all garments by myself, working a full-time job in another field and working exclusively with denim. Cut to 2019, I still have my full-time job (I love it), but I’m working primarily with organic cotton/hemp fabric and have hired a production sewer to produce the majority of my line. Color is very important to me, so my color palette has evolved tremendously from originally working with indigo and black denim. I’m more interested in the impact color has on a person’s mood and well-being, so that always gets factored in when I’m picking new colors.
What does it mean to you to be part of the Echo Park Craft Fair?
EPCF hosts such strong designers and artists that I just feel very honored and grateful to be invited into this community! This will be my first time at the fair (May 2019) so I’m just really excited to meet the other vendors and get to know the LA community better.
Are there other communities that have been instrumental in the development of your creative work?
Working as a speech therapist for my day job, my students have really helped to shape who I am and the energy I want to project onto others. When I work with them, I feel intense openness and love while also supporting their development as they navigate through their community, and I’ve seen a parallel between my relationships with them and my customers. I’m really interested in how my customers feel when they wear my garments because I want them to feel supported, to feel that I get them just like with my students. So creatively, this need comes up a lot for me, how to make others feel supported in and by my work.
The ethics of production are on our minds a lot recently – questions of sustainability, fair labor, location, and artistic integrity. How do these concepts come in to play in your craft and your business? What choices do you make that take into account these ideas?
My first line of defense is to source raw materials as close to the Bay Area as possible, which, in all honesty, can be very challenging given the scarcity of what’s being manufactured stateside, especially when working with hemp. But, that is always where I start and have been able to source from vendors in CA a lot. On the production side, I pay my production sewer a living wage as well as fair wages to local contractors that are within a 20 mile radius of the business. When designing, I want my customers to value the garment’s longevity so I think about styles that I would want to wear on a consistent and frequent basis. I also do small batch production and look for ways in the pattern making process to lessen the waste that occurs from leftover fabric scraps.