DSO: Ilio Nema is the product of a shared vision. What does working collaboratively offer that you wouldn’t be able to access alone?
Ilio Nema is definitely a product of a shared vision; a vision for sophisticated but easy clothing with exquisite artisanship. Ariane designs and is the Creative Director and the Katia is the Executive Officer and looks after the business side. We do everything collaboratively. This allows us to bring our individual experiences and skills together to create our unique vision and brand. We encourage each other and could not do it alone.
DSO: Though you hail from different parts of the world, your Greek heritage served as a touchstone for connection. How does Hellenic culture, mythology and storytelling continue to permeate your brand and designs?
We both grew up surrounded by and loving Hellenic Culture, Mythology and Storytelling. This shared experience became the inspiration for our name; ILIO NEMA means “sun thread” in Greek.
As children our Yiayiades and Nonés taught us to love delicate things, to treasure them and look after them so they could be passed down and enjoyed by the next generation. They used to mend, recycle and wear things for years, they did not grow up in the fast fashion culture. We both wanted to honour this by building a business and brand that was mindful and sustainable.
Aesthetically we draw a lot of our inspiration from Greece. We like unfussy and simple designs that bring ease like the Greek Cycladic aesthetic with its white houses, bare hills and blue seascapes. Less is more. We love the Mediterranean lifestyle, its rustic luxury and conviviality. Our clothes are created to embody that lifestyle and culture. Bold colours and drapey silhouettes, designs that are striking yet easy. Bohemian but elevated. Perfect for European holidays, paired with some gold jewellery and fine sandals.
DSO: Ilio Nema’s garments evoke an attitude of sundrenched bohemia, beachside sojourns and resort style escapism. Where is your ultimate personal holiday destination?
Katia: Greece and Cyprus. I love spending time with my extended family, immersing myself in the culture and its amazing hospitality. I feel at home whenever I am there. I love the relaxed European vibe, the turquoise Mediterranean water, lazy long lunches and balmy summer nights.
Ariane: The Greek Islands- Sifnos and Antiparos. Great food, warm water, easy lifestyle. Perfect with children. In France, I like going to L’ile De Re, an little island on the Atlantic, near Bordeaux. Farmers markets, delicious oysters, bicycles rides to the beach and long lunches and good wine. Slow living at its best.
DSO: Sustainability and conscious consumption play an integral role in Ilio Nema’s brand ethos. How do you ensure through your design and manufacturing process that your pieces will stand the test of time?
Sustainability is part of our core values. We believe in going back to the basics, slowing the process down to appreciate the art of handcraft and reducing our impact on the environment and its people. Our collection focuses on hand-woven textiles using natural fibres that we source ethically and locally. Our stripes are woven with two people working simultaneously on the loom. It can take up to three days to weave the fabric for one of our garments. The result is beautiful, unique and completely personal. By not using machines we use less energy and support the artisans who live in rural communities in India and Morocco. Focusing on quality is extremely important. We want our garments to be loved, lived-in and kept for season after season. Our cotton gets softer and softer every time you wash it.
We don't believe in following trends. We encourage our customers to only buy what they love and will wear for a long time. We always try to design timeless pieces that are versatile. Our button-down caftan dresses can be worn open at night over jeans and our boilersuits can be dressed up with heels.
DSO: Who do you design for? Are you crafting pieces that are missing from your current wardrobes, or is there an Ilio Nema muse you create for?
We are designing for modern women who appreciates handmade pieces, garments that feel unique and have been made consciously. They are for women who like to travel and be in the sun. The collection has a resort vibe with a focus on billowing silhouettes to take you from sea to soirée, hand-loomed stripe fabrics and everyday pieces that can be dressed up or down.
The Ilio Nema muse is a vibrant beauty, a constant seeker, a deep lover, an engaged worker, a soulful creator. She is a carer of Mother Nature, of those around her, of herself and of her future. She is curious about the world and is nourished by new knowledge and new experiences. She moves through life with passion and purpose.