Detail Oriented Minimalism - Germaine DeNigris
How did you get into fashion?
I think at the core of it, my upbringing and the financial hardships my family faced where how I got into fashion. I was about ten years old when I started sewing. My family didn’t have a lot of money growing up, but we lived in a very affluent town and I desperately wanted to look like I belonged. We couldn’t afford the clothes my friends’ families could, so I would go to the thrift store, buy things that I saw potential in and edit them until they were unrecognizably transformed and I was proud to wear them. I never stopped sewing, and by high school I was already selling my designs. By my first semester at FIT I had started Arkins.
What’s the story behind the creation of Arkins?
Arkins was born when I realized what the fashion industry was really like. I loved fashion, and have long known it would be what I pursued as a career, but the industry norms of fast fashion deteriorated my love to a point where I questioned everything I was doing at the time. Yes, I loved fashion, but I loved planet earth and human rights so much more. I knew I wouldn’t be able to morally justify working at a typical fashion company, so I started my own. Now I get to wake up every day knowing that when we sell a piece, a farmer in Turkey does a little happy dance because the organic cotton that was good for his soil and used less water to grow will be repurchased. I know the knitters in Portugal will be thrilled because the fabric they were paid a fair living wage to produce was a success. I feel joy knowing we have saved hundreds of pounds of deadstock fabric from landfills. Along, our entire supply chain, people’s lives are being bettered and the planet is being respected as it should be.
What is Arkins design aesthetic in three words?
Detail oriented minimalism
As a designer, what are your major influences?
I am most influenced by the places I travel. At this point in my life I’m lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit beautiful places all over the world quite frequently, and as a kid who grew up in poverty, I never go anywhere without acknowledging what a special treat it is. My travels are one of my most appreciated aspects of life, and showing that experience and gratitude through my designs is like my own personal way of taking customers on those journeys with me.
What is your design philosophy?
My designs revolve around practicality and the desire to have a long-term relationship with my garments. I’m only interested in making timeless items that I know I will love for many years to come. I want to make the dress that hangs in the front of your closet, the one that’s easy to wear, you feel like yourself in and is comfortable all day.
How would you describe your typical Arkins wearer?
I’d hate to put them in a box, but as a whole, I’d say they are an inclusive, ethical, empathetic bunch who inspire others to live a stylish yet sustainable lifestyle.
What does it mean to be a sustainable fashion label?
It means doing endless research to understand the true cost of making a garment. It means spending the extra money to create something that is of value not only to a consumer, but to our planet and to all the people making our products. It means making items that align with my moral values and those of our customers.
What are you currently working on?
Right now I am working on a few exciting collaborations! We’ve also transitioned to a more frequent release schedule, which is exciting because there is always something new on the site! I’m actually working on a few new styles now that will be released in the coming weeks.
What can we expect from Arkins in the next few years?
My long-term goal for Arkins is to take the company on a nomadic journey. I’d like to spend time in different locations all over the world and collaborate with local artisans and factories wherever I am. I envision keeping the core style of Arkins strong, yet inspired by the destination. We recently relocated to California for our first move, and we can’t wait to decide where to go next!