Luxury Slow Fashion with Sonya Bachra Byrne
Creating a new fashion brand is the subject of this podcast. Sonya Bachra-Byrne is Creative Director of AVIE. AVIE is French meaning “for life”. Pronounce it “a-vee”.
What is AVIE?
Sonya wanted to stay away from fast and disposable garments. We all need clothes, so Sonya has created a slow-fashion range of clothing really in the last 8 months! Sonya didn’t want to be a victim of trends. In her own wardrobe, she has investment pieces.
You spend a bit more, but the clothes last the test of time. Season-less. Clothing that transcends seasons. By focusing on this aspect of the business, she is putting more effort into quality and craftsmanship. The pieces stay modern, but not trendy. Its stylish, but still versatile.
Sonya always wanted a brand name that captured the ethos of her business. AVIE, for life, does that.
Another 4 letter brand you may have heard of (Lego was derived from the danish Leg Godt – to play well).
Thinking About the Concert for Years
Sonya has fashioned her abilities. She has worked in fashion in different companies (such as All Saints) and around the world. Identifying skills to make a range. It was the business and creative. Why people buy the products. The popular cultural reasons why people buy.
World Travels influenced AVIE
None of it was planned!
Half way through the interview, the Manchester firm offered her the job. She always had New York in mind. The Manchester role was all about blue chip retail accounts like Denim, Zara, Next, BHS.
She faxed her application to the New York firm and despite people telling her she wouldn’t get the job, she did.
The role was in a completely couture, one-off designs in a bridal and party-wear company on Spring Street, Soho, NY. Her boss was Junko Yoshioka, a Japanese designer.
Supplying garments to celebrities
They would supply celebrities for their Awards Season. Demi Moore, Jessica Alba, Helen Hunt. Three very beautiful women, it must be said.
Sonya presented the range of garments from Junko’s range to their celebrity stylists. They would not know whether they intended to wear the garment until they watched them at the Academy Awards or Oscars. On the red carpet.
Helen Hunt wore one of their dresses.
Sonya worked in Denmark, Italy, Barcelona & Melbourne, Australia
For a company called Inditex. One of their brands is Zara. Other brands are Massimo Dutti, Pull&Bear, Stradivarius and Bershka – a younger version of Zara. As a manager, she moved to Denmark. She worked near Billund Airport, the home of Lego!
Her Italian adventure was short lived, so jetted off to Melbourne Australia. Her and her husband Liam travelled and considered their future. They re-assessed family and came back home and started AVIE.
They conceived AVIE around November 2017 and by February 2018 they were really hitting the ground.
Avie is about modern and non-season specific. Spend more to spend less. Lego was like that, still got yours?
You can wear the AVIE to the office, to the shops, to a restaurant. The fabrics are from Italy, low chemical processing (less harmful, more sustainable ways). Their size means they can live their ethics in and through their brand.
“Small details that you wouldn’t ever notice, but if they weren’t there you would miss them”
This means things like the beautiful buttons and lining. It all adds to the end product. Most products are outerwear tailoring.
To buy go to: Avie-studio.com
AVIE is rolling out quickly
The brand has come together quickly. It is posing them good challenges about how to do things.
The word is being put out through lots of events locally, in West Yorkshire, where they are based. She is connecting with lots of boutiques. Charity events in Leeds. They were asked to bring along their garments. Another event is planned for York in March 2019.
They produce in EDITIONS. Edition 1 is the foundation and signature items. Such as, Trench 1.0.
The differences in new versions are about purpose or end use. A coat for a wedding – plainer, because the garment underneath, complement but NOT overtake.
Sonya is adopting the strategies that she may not have been able to follow through her career, but now, running her own business she can:
- be sustainable
- produce luxury items
- create limited editions
Avie puts this all together in a way that Sonya can identify. She has almost planned the next 10 years. It is about being authentic and genuine. This prevents her from losing her way. How would she wear it, why would I buy this. This makes the life of a consumer much easier.
It’s not just about design, it’s about business
Sonya and Liam are covering every aspect of their business. This prepares them for growth. She’ll understand the functions of the business and how it impacts the business. It is about constant re-assessment.
How would Sonya advise you?
- Learn what you can
- Strengthen your weaknesses, understand it and allow yourself the ability to pass this on. Don’t be blind to any part of your business.
- Have fun. Wherever it leads. Things work out.
Sonya sees furniture and interiors as part of her brand development.
Nick Bramley taught both Sonya and Graham on sales strategy.
In 10 years, where is AVIE then?
A presence in independent boutiques globally. Making sure they thrive too.
As long as they enjoy it, it will be worth it. It provides freedom.
Will it be Liam Bachra-Byrne?
It’s up to you Liam!