I love to discover brands with the purpose of making customers not only look good but feel good and that's exactly what this company vowed to do. Today's Lady Boss Interview, is with Nina Skibnevsky: founder of Haptic Path, an eco-friendly hemp clothing brand for women and men who appreciate style, high quality and free movement. Believing that comfy clothes can inspire you to dance, sing and meditate, Nina's approach to creating beautifully designed gender neutral clothing using natural fabrics is simply amazing which explains the brand's slogan: ''Free motion in body and mind''. Read on to know more about Haptic Path.
Tell us a bit about your background and what sparked your desire to start your own fashion brand?
I was born in Moscow but spent a big part of my childhood at countryside – at a horse farm where my parents worked that time. This explains my strong connection with nature and with megapolis at the same time. I studied social psychology in University in the department of ecological psychology. I had passion for fashion since my childhood and in the beginning I sewed clothes for my puppets, then my grandmother taught me to use a sewing machine: it was the Zinger machine of her grand mother (my grand grand grand mother!) from the end of 19 century. I still own it and it still works! At some point, I was sewing most part of the clothes for myself. The fabrics and books stores were my favorite places back then.
Photo Credit: Nina Skibnevsky
What is Haptic Path? What's the meaning behind the name?
The word «haptic» means relating to the sense of touch – and that's what my clothes is all about. When my fingers touch the fabrics, then the magic begins. Texture, weight and colour talk to me and I am getting ideas for models. It is my intimate world of creation, but more importantly, that people are wearing clothes most of the time and clothes touch us consistently. If the clothes are uncomfortable we are losing the feeling of its touch in very few minutes – our mind considers it as unnecessary information, as background. Some people are more sensitive, some less. If to make analogy with sounds: in the cities we hear a lot of different noises, nowadays many people use headphones not because they are addicted to music, but it helps to reduce a level of disturbing noises, because it affects us. Everything that we touch or that touches us is giving us sensory information. Why not choose it consciously? I believe we deserve total haptic satisfaction.
What does "slow-fashion" mean to you?
Thirst of all it’s a part of responsible consumerism. My way was long and interesting. Almost 15 years I am living without TV, I am totally out of pop-culture and I was traveling a lot in Asia, where I saw many ecological issues firsthand. One day most of my wardrobe turn to second hand clothing which I got from my friends. One of them gave me amazing presents, because those clothes became too small for her, but another one was ready to throw away few big bags of stuff, just because she bought something new. Do you remember the animation Valley, where the garbage has covered all the planet? It’s my nightmare.
I really believe that people have to change their mindset about consumption and as a small business I can do my best: to choose most eco-friendly biodegradable fabrics, to produce long lasting items, which can became a favorite items for years.
And I appreciate the efforts of bloggers, who share their experience of zero waste and responsible consumption. The people don’t like to feel guilty, they need the inspiring examples, simple steps to reduce bad ecological impact.
So, in a few words slow fashion is consciousness, responsibility and freedom to choose and to support small fair trade businesses instead of corporations, which do care about profit, but not about people in supply chain and an environmental impact.
Haptic Path slogan is "Free Motion in Body and Mind". How would you describe your design style?
Special, cozy, aspiring – those words I would pick for it. Each item of my collection can be combined with basic clothes and give a unique look. The goal of Haptic path is to casually balance between the urban and the natural. Inspired by ancient Japanese attire, my garments combine rare cuts with traditional and minimal aesthetic to create a uniquely elegant yet casual style.
The brand’s style is connected to a lifestyle. I do believe that comfy clothes can inspire you to dance, meditate, express yourself. I want you to be able to do it here, now, and in your own way. And not to wait for a special place as yoga studio.
Photo Credit: www.hapticpath.com (Bingyin Dress)
Photo Credit: www.hapticpath.com (Jisi Skirt)
Photo Credit: www.hapticpath.com (Jiazi Vest)
What is the most important thing to look for in ethical fashion?
First of all it is a transparency. But in general it’s a complicated subject. The ethical norms are very different from person to person and from society to society. I believe we should check the ideas which we are following and to update them. But sometimes there are no simple answers. And it is the most challenging, not to give up by that moment. For me as a consumer the example is shoes. Ethical (in case of cruelty free) is often an ecologically harmful. I had to accept my imperfection, since then I decided to use harm reduction system: to do my best on my actual step to reduce my footprint.
Your brand is for both women and men, does your approach differ when designing menswear compared to womenswear?
Not really, but important that it can be in harmony together. From a very young age, I am suffering when I see beautifully dressed women (sometime on hills!) with a men in sports clothes. One of my first customer was a Russian telavivian woman, who picked a long vest for herself. And then her husband bought another vest from my collection. It is my small success.
Another important thing that almost all Haptic path’s items turned to be unisex. I am creating them with an image of customer on my mind - for example women. And then men comes and wants this pants. Who am I to make rules? The people are building a relationships with their items with a free spirit. And it is exciting!
You only use 100% natural fabrics and threads in the form of hemp and bamboo. Other than the environmental advantages, what was the reason you chose bamboo and hemp over other alternatives materials?
Actually my main fabric is hemp, which was traditionally used for clothing all over the world. New technologies makes it possible to produce very different kind of fabrics from Cannabis plant: from very strong canvas to airy lawn, which I use for light summer items. Hemp is the most environmentally friendly fabric – which is at the same time best for the body. The hemp plant does not drain the soil, uses less water and grows faster than cotton, and does not need the usage of pesticides; at the same time the hemp fabric is hypoallergenic, breathable and offers 90% UV protection, which none other fabric does.
I can’t wear synthetic fabrics because I don’t like the touch of it and my body suffocates in these clothes. The hemp is very nice by touch, it reminds me of linen (flax). The bamboo fabric is nice as well, but the process of producing fabric from bamboo contains chemicals… The cotton threads which I started from I had to exchange, because they are not strong enough. I want Haptic Path’s garment be long lasting.
Photo Credit: www.hapticpath.com (Yichou Vest)
Photo Credit: www.hapticpath.com (Yichou Vest)
Photo Credit: www.hapticpath.com (Yichou Vest)
How important it is to provide your customers with clothes that will have minimal impact on the environment?
That is my main idea: ecological harm reduction. And it makes all my production process more complicated and expensive. I can’t go to the closest stock and to buy nice patterned fabrics or beautiful plastic buttons. Sometimes, I need to wait for months to get new colors and I see a long way to improve my business impact, for example to reduce waste. For now, I give pieces to an orphanage and to one friend of mine for crafting, but with brand developing I need to think of reusing all the “garbage”.
How has your work evolve since you've started Haptic Path?
I’ve started with zero knowledge in business, a huge passion and some money for the project. Since then, I ‘ve learned a lot (about what not to do), I have zero free money and I need to invest much more. My passion is not just to make beautiful and comfortable apparel, but also to live my dreams and values – and, of course, to change the world!
In your opinion, do you think there's a significant interest for ethical and sustainable garments in the fashion industry today?
Unfortunately, a capitalistic world is very inert in case of taking responsibility for their actions because it's ruled by profits and not by ethics. If some famous designers are using sustainable ways to produce their collections, it’s still have nothing to do with a mass market. Each year the industry produce huge amount of cheap synthetic fabrics which are made from non-renewable oil and going to become a long lasting garbage. 8 billions of people need the clothes, and price is the main criteria. We need a fashion revolution. We need accessible sustainable clothing for India, China, etc.
What is the most important lesson (s) you have learned since you've started your own brand?
There is many levels on any project and the more I study, the more appears in my list of things to learn about and to take care of. I would like to add here a quote from my favorite movie Waking life: The trick is to combine your waking rational abilities with the infinite possibilities of your dreams. Because, if you can do that, you can do anything.
How do you maintain a work/life balance?
There is no difference for now and as a psychologist I know how it is dangerous. When I feel empty I am going to travel without my laptop at least for one week. But all my life I've been very passionate, so if I dive into an inspiring project I lose myself there. It’s helpful that my daughter is 13 years old and she is pretty independent. So my Haptic path brand is a new born baby in a way.
What's your vision for the future of Haptic Path in the next 5 years?
To start, I want to build a good team and to go to international eco-fashion weeks to meet more people with the same state of mind. I believe there are many ways to collaborate and to support each other for the small businesses. I would open my own showroom in Tel-Aviv and Moscow at least and will pick sustainable and comfortable shoe brands. Having hemp, pineapple and mushroom leather shoes have been my dream for few years already. I have few projects which I want to donate money to: one of them making animation movies with children with cancer, another is planting a food garden.
Where can customers purchase your fashion line?
For now the main store is hapticpath.etsy.com. I chose this platform because there's already good collaborations that exist between artists and customers from all over the world. My next step will be to have a shop on my own site: hapticpath.com.
Connect with Haptic Path on social Media:
Facebook: Haptic Path Fashion
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