Designer Eftychia Karamolegkou joins Document to discuss the past, present and future of her eponymous brand
A year after graduating with a master’s degree in womenswear from Central Saint Martins in 2017, Greek designer Eftychia Karamolegkou launched her eponymous label. Since then, EFTYCHIA has carved out a unique place for itself in the world of women’s clothing.
At its core, EFTYCHIA is a brand dedicated to defining its own feminine identity, centered on freedom of spirit, strength and comfort. It’s private, but not shy. In order to materialize and evolve this identity, Karamolegkou uses traditionally masculine cuts and details that are only revealed to the wearer, such as satin jacket interiors or velvet-lined pockets. The solidity of fit has become the hallmark of the brand.
Since the brand creates clothes with a specific type of person in mind, past collections exist within a certain stylistic area, categorized as workwear. But as the brand evolves, this definition seems less appropriate, and perhaps more importantly, less necessary. Eftychia Karamolegkou joins Document to discuss the growth of her brand, the Fall/Winter 2022 collection, and who she sees as the EFTYCHIA woman.
Pierre Miklas: When you launched your label, what were your goals as a creator? Have these goals changed since you started?
Eftychia Karamolegkou: The goal was – and remains – to define another femininity. One that, at the time of its launch in 2018, was not represented enough in the fashion industry. It’s not an androgynous femininity, as many describe it: it’s a femininity that doesn’t rely on adornment and what femininity stereotypically evokes. Garments are focused on the wearer, hence the hidden details, the quality of the materials, the strength of the fit.
Rock : Your first collections were focused on the desktop. Second, the pandemic has radically changed the culture of work. Considering both past and recent collections, do you see this change as an obstacle or an opportunity?
Eftychia: In a way, the pandemic came at the right time. I had already started to feel limited and restricted by the absolute history of business wear that I had placed the brand in, not in terms of tailoring, but in terms of category offerings. I wanted to expand the wardrobe and also work on less constructed pieces. At the time, I was worried that they wouldn’t match the brand.
Since fall/winter 2021, I’ve been trying to make this shift. Spring/Summer 2022 was the breakout – it might have come across as extreme change. I knew the one after – Fall/Winter 2022, the current collection – would bring balance and give an indication of where the brand is heading. Now I feel like I know the brand better. There is more flexibility and I don’t have to stick to my own “boxes”. The identity is the same, it will always be sewing. The woman is the same. The approach, however, is different, which is liberating.
Rock : ‘Business wear’ or ‘office wear’, are these descriptors welcome? Has your thinking about these terms changed since you started EFTYCHIA?
Eftychia: I used the term business wear to describe this independent, autonomous woman and her own boss. The style has always been casual; it is not a strict, buttoned seam. It is an outfit that can be worn anywhere and provides a kind of privacy. Clothing does not “carry” the wearer. They project comfort, confidence, and drive, all important assets for getting any job done.
Work clothes are always something that interests me, except that the location of the office no longer dictates the style of clothing. However, I avoid office clothes, because their semiology is weaker and is associated with another type of sewing.
Rock : Can you reveal the source of inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2022 collection? What was the starting point?
Eftychia: Fall/Winter 2022 is about rock bottom situations, where the only way out is to reconnect with yourself and find inner strength, corny as that sounds. It is an apparently negative theme, with a very positive result. In the abyss, the ultimate darkness, organisms produce light to survive. The palette of this collection is very dark, with glimpses of light and color in the details, like a glow in the dark. It is an all-over tailoring with many complacent details, such as the interior satin surface that comes in the form of a stripe on the lapel or the velvet-lined pockets.
Rock : Couture has always been at the heart of the EFTYCHIA brand. What interests you about tailoring and traditionally masculine shapes?
Eftychia: I’ve always thought of sewing as a language. It has so many codes and secrets that by changing just a few details, the message can be completely different. With couture and costume, an amateur eye will not understand what a connoisseur will. It’s private and extremely verbal at the same time. As soon as you put on a jacket, you improve your posture by giving yourself the importance it deserves. Although it is not considered a symbol of femininity, [masculine tailoring] best describes this different kind of woman. In a non-ordinary way, she is extremely desirable and irresistible.
Rock : Who is the EFTYCHIA woman? Has it evolved with the collections or has it stayed the same?
Eftychia: The essence of women has been the same since my master’s degree: independent, without feeling the need to prove herself to others. In terms of freedom of spirit, she is almost celibate, not celibate. Of course, it evolves. Her needs change and she grows just like a real person would.
Rock : Would you consider your collections to be gender-fluid? Have you ever thought about designing men’s clothing?
Eftychia: Everything can be fluid, it’s the way the person wears it. I design with women in mind, simply because I can identify with and understand women. I also find the female body and proportions more interesting to design.
I do have a lot of male clients though and I love that my pieces are versatile in that sense. A store in Japan only stocked the brand for male customers. As long as men don’t complain about women’s tailoring in jackets and fly size in pants, they’re more than welcome to wear my clothes.
Rock : What do you know now that you wish you had known five years ago?
Eftychia: You cannot rely on anyone, but at the same time you cannot do anything without the help of others. I would focus on building a team earlier. Building relationships is the most important thing, and I would definitely look for investments from day one.
Rock : Your most recent collection is the third to deviate from the brand’s original office workwear. What’s next for the label?
Eftychia: It was the last part of the transition trilogy, yes. Like the three stages of shock: mourning, denial, acceptance. I am now entering a more mature phase for the brand, focusing on establishing its style and identity, structuring its business, and hopefully sustaining it.