Interview by Aubrey Krekeler
Photographs by Egan Parks
Designer Anastasiya Yatsuk grew up in Russia watch ing her mother and grandmother sew garments. She eventually moved to Cincinnati, Ohio to study study- ing fine art at the University of Cincinnati and after having an opportunity to combine both her fine art and fashion backgrounds in one project, she is now the creator of the sustainable line of ready-to-wear fashion based in San Francisco, California, Textilehaus.
How did Textilehaus start?
In 2016, my former professor, Jordan Tate, was looking for someone to make raincoats for one of his performance/installation pieces. Growing up in Russia, my mom and I had sewn together for years, and I figured I had enough experience to wing it. I pulled two all- nighters to make a sample for him and he ended up hiring me. It was my first real design job after graduating. I loved it and thought I should get a job as a tailor to learn how to sew better. I brought that raincoat into one of the local high-end stores and said, “Listen, I don’t know how to do alterations, but I can sew,” and they hired me. I trained for two weeks and ended up working there for two years. My sewing skills improved and I started wondering what I was going to do with the rest of my life. I had thought about starting my own line and began experimenting with my own designs. Shortly thereafter, I broke my ankle and couldn’t move for two months so I used that time to come up with my first collection. By the time I could walk again, I had decided I was going to do local makers markets, reach out to stores, and apply to a small business accelerator. Ultimately, I got accepted to the accelerator and they helped me develop a business plan and fund my first collection.
What sort of designs are you into right now. In general and for Textilehaus?
I find myself loving two almost complete opposite styles. I really enjoy streetwear and find a lot of inspiration from it; I think it is the innovation and contemporary approach that I love. When it comes to being by myself and just making a thing without over analyzing it, I end up making garments that are pretty much inspired by traditional or national clothes. Quite often I find myself googling traditional Uzbek, Ukrainian, and of course Japanese clothes, and that’s the history that I love. When I get a chance to step back and look at final collections I am finally able to see the connective thread between all of it. Current SS18 collection might be the closest to my design aesthetic. Mixture of loose and drapey cut with colorful details that circles back to traditional wear mixed with industrial metal hardware and minimal aesthetic that comes from streetwear.
How does your fine art education and background help inform your work in fashion?
As a fine artist in the DAAP (Design, Architecture, Art, and Plan- ning) program at the University of Cincinnati, we had a lot of free- dom and I was able to work in many mediums. I came away from it knowing that if I set my mind to it I can make anything I want. When I graduated I felt capable of doing anything. DAAP gave me a vast understanding of colors, shapes, and pattern. I feel like not having formal training in fashion design allows meto play more in the studio. I’m not limited to what’s right or wrong, I can just do what I want. My interns, who usually come from the fashion design program at DAAP, are very precise in their technique. They want to get their patterns perfect, to the milimeter. I prefer to make a mock-up and refine it later. I wouldn’t spend hours perfecting the pattern the first time, I would perfect it after I’m satisfied with the style. I think it’s a fine art thing.
What are some of the struggles you’ve found with starting a fashion line in Cincinnati?
I actually think it was easier to it here because I was one of the few people that wanted to do fashion and I had a lot of help. The First Batch Accelerator gave me a grant, but I think being connected to the creative community here was more helpful than anything else. The hardest part was sourcing fabric and trim. I tried to get swatches online and it wasn’t working, so I took the bus to New York and sourced all of my materials. I’ve gotten lucky with people like Josh Anderson, the photographer. I was searching for a photographer two days before the very first photo shoot, because our first choice fell through. I met Josh literally two days before the shoot and he was able to photograph the first collec- tion. It’s great that in Cincinnati, it’s easy to find people who want to collaborate and make something amazing.
How do you think your Russian heritage influences your designs?
I’m influenced by Russian aesthetics but it’s also just kind of in- stinctual. It’s just in me. Russian design has a seriousness to it, while American design seems more folky. I think Textilehaus is a crazy mix of both Russian and American cultures, which is also who I am as a person.
Where else do you pull inspiration from?
A lot of my inspiration comes from Instagram. I follow brands that have a similar price point and style, especially those that focus on small-batch production and made-to-order pieces. I also study fashion history. I’ll go to museums and pick up on color schemes and they become part of my collections. Art is a reflection of culture and right now people want more natural and sustainable fabrics, which greatly influences my designs.
Now that you’ve made the move to San Fransisco what are your plans for the line? How do you see the west coast influencing you?
Right now I finally ready to nest. The next step would be to find a studio that can serve as a showroom at the same time. I like the idea of being able to invite my customers to see the process of how their garments are being made when they shop. I feel pretty much in my very element in the west coast. As cheesy as it sounds I spend hours looking at seashells and I am fascinated and inspired by the shapes and patterns on them. San Francisco is great because can experi- ence both seasons at any given moment as well. It is always a jacket weather on North West and Summer in the East Bay, it is is especially helpful with backwards fashion timelines when we work on spring the the winter and vise versa.
What’s next for Textilehaus?
Lately, I’ve been working in San Francisco more and more. I feel like I need to stay in one place for a while. I’ll either move there or figure out some kind of system and stay in Cincinnati. At some point, I’d like to do NYFW, but right now, I only have 16 pieces in the collec- tion. I’ve been working on developing more styles, including a few childrens pieces, and hope to find more stores to carry the line.
Aubrey Krekeler is a stylist and writer based in Cincinnati Ohio. @aubreykrekeler