Lizzie Harrison set up Antiform a now successful label, whilst studying the BA (Hons) Fashion degree.
Alumni Relations Officer Joanna Loveday went along to the new Antiform studios in Byron Street Mills in Leeds to meet Lizzie and find out about the new mens line and everything else 2014 has in store for them.
I arrive in the pouring rain and am greeted with a warm smile and a hot cup of tea. Antiform share their new home in a former mill with two other creative companies Dots Printhaus and Gem Smith Jewellery. The former mill is now an open plan workshop, fitted by Dots with reclaimed materials. There is a hive of activity happening inside, with t-shirts coming off the screen printers and Lizzie busying away at a sewing machine. I ask her what she’s working on, and bizarrely enough it is a one-off repair job, as a huge favour to a friend at Leeds Arena - she is sewing flowers on to the gloves that Azaelia Banks will be wearing on stage at the First Direct Arena in Leeds tonight.
This is not the kind of work Antiform is known for, but repairing and altering are definitely amongst their expertise! The brand was established by Lizzie in 2007 during her second year at University. Throughout the final year of her degree all of Lizzie’s designs were created using reclaimed materials, using Yorkshire heritage textiles to create forward thinking fashion. Antiform as a company was established, and since then has continued under the very same ethos, always aiming to push the boundaries of ethical, sustainable design by using locally sourced reclaimed materials and mixing fashion forward shapes with heritage craft.
In order to explore how she could take the Antiform production forward from the outfit set up in Leeds, Lizzie went on to complete the MA Fashion and Environment at London University of Fashion in 2008. During this year of research she founded ‘ReMade in Leeds’ and began to offer workshops, events and clothing collections under the in-house brand of Antiform. ReMade in Leeds has continued from strength to strength as a service design embedded into the business, helping people to develop new skills in upcyling, garment repair and alterations. They also run regular events, including the increasingly popular Clothes Exchange in Leeds.
I asked Lizzie what she has been up to recently and she told me she has just returned from Berlin Fashion Week. It was a successful trip and Antiform now has some new German stockists. I asked Lizzie what her future ambitions for the company were and increasing the international stockists is definitely one of them. She is also looking to open up a second studio in Bristol. Another new development for the company is the launch of their first menswear range which makes up part of the new Collection # 7. The Unisex Tweed Sweater is amongst our favourites, with genuine UK woven wool tweed front and back panels. The Antiform collection can be bought online where you can also see a list of their stockists.
On top of all of this, Lizzie told me she also finds time to teach at Royal University of Art and regularly give talks at conferences, covering everything from fashion sustainability to creative entrepreneurship.