Presenting a new collection digitally definitely bears its challenges. The digital and gender fluid London Fashion Week that was presented at the beginning of the month proved it can be done, but without being able to touch, closely examine and move the clothes themselves, buyers and editors alike have been pondering whether this new fashion format is a better alternative to the previous one. But Hanna Fiedler, the founder of her eponymous label, has shown that this substitute can be a socially-distanced success if some creative thinking is at play

A couple of weeks ago, I was invited to a Zoom presentation of the designer’s next collection, named Chapter II. After accepting the invitation, I noticed a package arrive at my front door a couple of days later. Inside was a curated preview box of inspirations, fabric swatches and a mini mannequin to don the mini clothes onto, creating the sensory experience that’s lost in the virtual world. “We had planned originally to have what’s in the box to also be in the showroom and have a literal exhibition alongside the collection, to allow people to understand the story behind the designs. Then when the lockdown situation started, we first thought we couldn’t do this, but then we had the idea that we could do it, in some way.” explains Fiedler in our planned Zoom call, located in her studio with her new collection as her background. “I think it's a nice way for you to actually be able to see the colours and the fabrics.” Quite like her approach to presentations, Fiedler’s label doesn’t run by the conventional fashion brand format. All of her design’s work on a made-to-order basis ensures that there is no risk of over-production, as she shares “the idea is really to reduce waste by not actually creating it in the first place”. All her clothes are made with environmentally-friendly materials such as organic cotton, silks and wool which are all sourced from European mills and produced within London, streamlining the brand’s carbon footprint as much as possible. And she only designs two collections a year, with the emphasis being that her designs are able to transcend through the seasons. It’s a traditional business model with a modern interpretation.

The perfectly executed preview box

This season, Fiedler’s sustainable focus is to avoid any offcuts by not cutting the fabric at all. One of the pieces presented digitally was the Cristóbal coat, inspired by the base shape of a coat Cristóbal Balenciaga created in 1961, which was also exhibited in the V&A museum because of the unusual rectangular shape of the fabric. “By folding the fabric around the body, the shape is created and it was something that I always wanted to play with.” explains Fiedler. “ It’s so fascinating because it's a product that's completely waste free. The entire coat does not have a single scrap of waste because of the way it's cut, one end of a sleeve to the other is the width of the fabric and everything else is just boarded around the body.” The coat is made from Alpaca wool, all ethically sourced within the UK and without having had to be touched by any dyes, it comes in a beautiful grain shade of brown. It's a bold design without being ostentatious, and a piece I can see being lovingly handed down for future generations to enjoy.

Within my box of treasures was also a page about her inspirations. ‘Inspired by the Bauhaus Movement, the Hanna Fiedler Chapter II collection celebrates the idea of uniting craft and fine art’, the page reads. This is something that’s at the core of the designer’s education, having trained bespoke tailoring at the Berlin Opera Foundation, mixing the realms of art and clothing comes naturally to her. As Fiedler’s sustainable ethos shows, functionality is equally as important, but this mindset has also come from the creative sphere. “I relate quite strongly to the ideas of Bauhaus and their ten rules of good design: having products that are beautiful as well as useful, that aren’t wasteful.” she says. “I think this is something that fashion can really benefit from because there is sometimes a bit of disconnect between design and beautifully crafted clothes and fusing those two is really my passion.”

As my one-to-one preview draws to a close, I ask what the designer’s plans are for the future. “We are working on a very exciting new concept for the website to really help people engage with the brand remotely and bring the storytelling aspect to the website. So similar to the introductions to each design that you've seen in the preview box, that will be actually content that's going into the product description and on the product page for each garment.” And soon, my little treasure trove of Hanna Fiedler pieces will be available for everyone too, spreading the same joy that it gave to me.

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