Following their EPIC street presentation at London Fashion Week, we caught up with Rebecca Haddaway, founder of Gender neutral brand ATARAXI. We were drawn in by their fearless and dominant display as well as their innovative pieces at LFW. As our first coverage of a truly gender neutral brand in the UK, we wanted to interview Rebecca to understand the idea behind the brand and what it really offers. We often hear of unisex clothing and we are big fans of the concept however it is rare to have a purely unisex brand. With gender neutrality becoming an increasingly important topic- endorsed by many celebrities, ATARAXI already has a winning niche.
Details of the interview are shown below:
So, when was ATARAXI launched and what made you want to start genderless clothing?
Rebecca: I started developing the brand in 2014 during my final year at London College of Fashion when I did my dissertation entitles Blurred Lines: The Future of Fashion. I have worked with various menswear and womenswear brands, including Lyle and Scott, Maison Margeila, and many others. Initially I had a preference for menswear but I began to realize that genderless clothing was something I very much believed in. Gender equality is a big deal for me, I see myself as an equalist (not a feminist) and wanted my clothes to reflect that.
Why did you choose the name ATARAXI ?
Rebecca: ATARAXI actually comes from the word Ataraxia an Epicurean philosophy means freedom from emotional distress, encouraging a hedonistic lifestyle. It is about finding peace within yourself through your way of life, by having both equality and creativity. We actually have a triangulated 3D embroidery of Epicurus the Greek philosopher who coined ATARAXI on one of our sweatshirts. So for us not being confined by dress sense to a particular gender provides the freedom discussed in Epicureanism.
How would you classify your brand?
Rebecca: I would say we are a street wear brand with luxury sports influence. We use premium leather and suede and luxury silks which take us a step further than other street wear brands and places us at a different price point.
So what do you think makes you truly genderless? Because we have seen a lot of brands promote unisex clothing but even in the styling and marketing, it has been done to cater to a particular gender so it becomes more like, wearing men’s clothes but “dressing it up with heels” and often the fit is still very much manly or feminine.
Rebecca: Firstly, we do not change the styling or marketing to be more manly or feminine, we want either sex to be able to look at our clothing and not feel like it leans more towards the opposite sex. The pattern cutting of the clothes has been developed to ensure that it is truly unisex- so the fitting is appropriate to both men and women.
So, since you surprised us, and a lot of journalists at London Fashion week, talk to us about the inspiration behind your street presentation.
Rebecca: Our street presentation was a real statement for us, not officially being in London Fashion Week itself, it was a bold move for me to decide that we would present outside the schedule and I am glad it worked. I wanted us to appear strong and almost defiant in order to really push our message. From the hashtag #GenderlessGeneration to the makeup it was all rooted into our ethos of complete gender neutrality. For the makeup I worked with Charlotte Olivia to develop a concept that really harmonized with the brand ethos. You saw the lines on the models faces. The lines were painted on the left side of the men’s faces as men verbal reason with the left side of their brain whilst the women had paint on the right side of the face. This shows them to be equally matched and that symbolism ensures our ethos remained at the forefront of the brand, yet it was visually exciting too. Having a meaning behind everything we do is really important because ATARAXI is more than just a fashion brand it’s a philosophy, a state of mind.
Yes, you caused quite a stir with your street wear presentation. What was the inspiration behind the clothing itself?
Rebecca: Yes initially people assumed it was a protest… LOL
For me this collection was centered on a dark paradise. So, someone being trapped to the confinements of nighttime. This collection takes a hedonistic approach to the wearer with confident prints and self-indulgent silks. Buying into the brand is an expression of yourself and your individuality, as well as expressing the philosophy that is ATARAXI. All the pieces from the collection and readily interchangeable and super versatile when it comes to styling so you can really make it your own. There are quite a few trophy pieces in this collection such as the leather jackets and the Bisleeve Bombers.
So what can we expect for Spring/Summer 2016?
Rebecca: Without giving too much away, I can say that we are playing around with variations of classic sportswear silhouettes and looking at introducing unusual textures. You have already seen our Bisleeve – Bomber which is gives the wearer the option of a bomber jacket or cape style jacket, adapting their look to different temperatures. We want to work on developing more clever pieces like that.
Yes, I have to say the blue and brown Bi-Bomber is my personal favorite! Where can we purchase your stuff?
Rebecca: At the moment we have an online store which is www.ataraxi.co.uk We have not yet moved into bricks and mortar stores but we are looking to do a pop up store in the near future.
We are glad that you are bringing purely genderless clothing to the UK, it looks like you are set to stir things up!
Rebecca: We do like to do as much as we can in our home ground, all the clothes are made here in the UK. Even for the music in our fashion films and on our website we collaborate with up and coming artists. We do also have a large following in America. Most recently we collaborated with Minnesota rising stars Finding Novyon and Allan Kingdom who was featured on Kanye’s ‘All Day’. We have also just dressed the Lionbabe duo and Mikky Ekko.
Clearly ATARAXI is a strong brand deeply bound by its ethos which drives the innovative pieces that can be seen below. For those that identify as gender neutral or just like gender neutral clothing their clothes are a welcome addition to the wardrobe. We look forward to what this brand has in store for the rest of 2016!