Article – Ross Pollard
Photography - Stephen Berkeley-White
“Oh look, pigeons having sex, at least they kissed first”.
The founder of Phannatiq isn’t the usual type of fashion designer, in ten years of knocking round the industry I’ve never met anyone like Anna Skodbo. There aren’t many designers that could mount a passionate defence of the Schengen Agreement and it’s place in freedom of movement, discuss the role NGO’s have in making sure factories live up to a decent standard or talk with so much verve about the new politics of the times we find ourselves in, like I said Anna is different.
She’s a designer rooted in a different place, her monochrome designs frequently feature patterns that on inspection turn out to be translations of the world around her including one that from a distance might make you think of a jagged hounds tooth print but is in fact a cat walking the walls and roofs of her Walthamstow base. The urban landscape is a deep inspiration for her.
Perhaps the difference stems from her route into the industry and becoming a designer. Time at university was complemented by working with Britain's Next Top Model (she never watched the show though), however for Anna there came a break, a short trip to Oslo turned into a four year break from the UK and on her return to the UK industry she looked at the jobs available and thought if I’m going to be broke I may as well be broke with my own start up label. As you’d expect from a person in this industry with a base in the ethical she was acutely aware of the issues facing her with the intern system and low wages for the majority of roles many here encounter.
This becomes further reflected in her choice of a more ethical production, choosing to work with the less environmentally damaging bamboo as a fabric (our discussion showed her knowledge of the fabric, it’s production is fascinating) and being keen to have the best production and sourcing available. Some designers talk a good game on ethical issues, Anna lives them. It’s not surprising that there is such attention to detail as Anna may be a workaholic, she describes herself as liking to have “fingers in every pie”. Her husband Adam joined us for the interview (over some of the best pizza I’ve had in London, top pick by them) and was in full agreement.
We’d gone out for lunch to do the interview as they are renovating their house and the night before had knocked down a wall. They are doing nearly all the work themselves, literally nearly all the work means exactly that, everything from building to plumbing, this is not a couple that just sits back and project manages, they want their vision from their own hand. Anna squealed with delight as she told me “I’m going to drive a digger”. Though she was coy on whether she was going to do some tailoring on her Hi-Vis jacket. Can I humbly suggest “Can You Dig It” in rhinestones is the go to look for such occasions!!!
There is a perception that ethical production and caring about left wing politics can lead people to be dour and earnest, she admits “I’m often going off on one about the state of the world”, (Anna and I often end up putting the world to rights when we see each other at industry bits and bobs) but over the last couple of years since I first met her I’ve come to know her as one of the most caring people in the industry but also one of the most fun. Someone being so very talented who is also full of joy and zest for life. There is Anna the designer, the fun cool kid, the builder, the martial artist, the self starter, the activist, which of these is she really, the answer is easy, she’s a magnificent bundle of them all.
Makeup – Lauren Kay
Hair – Oscar Alexander
Models – Bryony Harrison, Somer-Louise Van Sluytman & Desymons