A CONVERSATION WITH NATASHA ZINKO: A GREATER SOBERING

As the world comes to a standstill, Natasha Zinko continues to reinvent herself— A long time advocate of sustainability, the label has introduced growing initiatives to further reduce the company’s carbon footprint through several channels. Together with her son, Ivan, they reimagine a collection based on Hunter S Thompson’s ‘Fear & Loathing‘, a parallel to the events of the world today, on top of opening a Souvenir and Takeaway Cafe, named NATASHKINO.

Beyond the myriad of colours, prints and emojis, each collection lies a story to be told.

Can you briefly introduce how your brand came about and what led to the creation of your eponymous label, Natasha Zinko

After graduating from Central St Martins with honours in Fine Jewellery, I started designing ad hoc collection of dresses, hoodies and jackets for myself. One by one my friends started requesting them. One day the iconic Mrs Joan Burstein, founder of the famous London store Browns, picked up my collection. Soon thereafter Maxfields and TSUM also started selling my collection. Today my designs are sold in over 140 global points sales.

 

We see that you’re big on sustainability practices, with the Reduce Reuse Recycle symbols printed on your apparel and accessories- What are some of the specific actions taken to encourage sustainability and how do you see the label expanding on that with your future collections?

I am constantly looking at ways to decrease my companies carbon footprint. We takes steps with every new collection. No more printing of invitations, using only recycled plastic for our shopping bags, sourcing vintage jeans/bandanas/cotton check flannel shirts that are redesigned into one of a kind pieces, upcycling past season fabrics into new designs. We launched and funded the first ever Reduce Reuse Recycle/ МОГУ СЕБЕ ПОЗВОЛИТЬ ♻️ Program providing Containers for Glass, Paper and Plastic throughout my home town in Odessa, Ukraine called MOGU Cebe Pozvolit/I Can and I Will in alliance with the Mayor. It is important to remember that every little change helps. For SS21 I purchased, in bulk, vintage cotton check flannel shirts which I individually personalized so that each one will become a Collectors piece. The reaction from my global store retailers was very positive.

There’s something about the bright, eye-catching colours we see on your apparel that feels undeniably fresh— where do these colours come from and what are some of your biggest inspirations?

I am inspired by life. Fashion is a wonderful escape from the monotony and challenges we face in everyday life. We can dream in technicolour. Colour is very important to me. Colour makes me happy.

 

The smiley face has been utilised by several brands and communities over the years and have since evolved into a signifier of various subcultures. What differentiates Natasha Zinko’s colourful and iconic smiley faces from the rest, and is there a deeper cultural meaning behind the usage of the smileys in your label, if any? 

Nothing is this world is perfect. My emojis reflect my happy imperfect realities. I’ve always had this mantra of I Can and I Will. My emojis aren’t perfect. They are all winners. Going with the flow.

We see you working with your son, Ivan, on a series of collections under DUO Ltd. Where does Ivan’s vision and process end and yours begin, and vice versa?

He brings a unique aesthetic and point of view which is fresh, ahead of the curve and brutally honest without inhibitions. His primary focus is school. As a teenager, he is incredibly tapped into the pulse of life today through music, social awareness and family. We love working together. It’s feel completely natural and symbiotic.

 

With that, could you elaborate further on the concepts and ideas behind the upcoming SS21 collection, titled Sober? What message would you like to bring across through the collection as well as its campaign? 

The SS21 Collection was inspired by the Hunter S. Thompson novel ‘Fear & Loathing‘ in Las Vegas.  Ivan read the book. I watched the movie. It had so many parallels to what is going on in the world today. We are just coming to a greater sobering understanding of life post pandemic. My cup of water is always half full. Our new emoji in this collection is bruised, has a plaster and is smoking. And we still love ‘em all the same. Together we will all persevere. Ivan directed our SS21 video which we shot in Odessa, Ukraine with Stylist Vena Brykalin, Fashion Director Vogue Ukraine.

With the rise of e-commerce and online shopping, how do you perceive the importance and relevance of a brick-and-mortar store in the current retail climate? 

Nothing can change the opportunity to “experience” the brick n mortar, to engage with my team. My flagship store in London epitomizes all my platforms of Sustainability, Diversity and Authenticity.  Technology is evolving rapidly to re-create a virtual experience for those not able to “experience” in person. I believe they will soon exist in seamless tandem.

 

We’ve noticed that Natasha Zinko has diversified and ventured into the F&B business, recently opening a cafe named Natashkino Ltd— Could you share with us how the idea came about and how has it been running two businesses concurrently during this unprecedented period? 

I recently opened NATASHKINO. I am very particular about what I consume. I have been gluten and dairy free for so long. I wanted to further expand and share my world. Everything is made on the premises. It’s a Souvenir and Take Away Cafe.

At some point, presumably and hopefully, we will reach the other side of the pandemic. How do you think the fashion industry will look like when the time comes and how will Natasha Zinko as a label adapt to the changes?

I hope we all learn and increase gratitude for all the important things like family, friends and loved ones. We have a great opportunity to change, to respect, to appreciate. I keep checking my crystal ball for answers. I have always been adapting to change. Failures, now a pandemic, are my greatest motivators.

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