05 May 2011

Designer Crush; Aileen, House of Isla

What I like about this about this global changes in fashion today is the fact that often happens that you are impressed by some young, enthusiastic individuals not obsessed with the profit but with fulfilling their passions. Aileen Kim, owner of House of Isla, Philippines-based indie shop is one of them. This young designer is really an inspiration. Not  only she is very hardworking busy bee, but she is very unpretentious and wise girl. How do I know that? When I asked her for interview and send her questions, when she send me back the answers, I really made myself a cup of tea and enjoyed in reading her words of wisdom. Creative and talented designer does the great job for House of Isla, and not only she is designing and sewing clothes alone at the moment, she also writes beautiful blog, models for her lookbooks, creates lovely assembles and writes beautiful words for her online shop. Also, Aileen has a great love for nature, which inspires her work. She is really something! Find out in the interview what she likes, how she started to sew, what inspires her and what is her advice to become more earth-friendly. 

Is this your dream job?
At this point in my life yes. When we were younger, we had this rather stereotypical picture of our dream job as something that requires us to be behind a desk in a four-walled office building in the midst of the busiest city in the country…and that the best gauge of success would be of course getting the heftiest paycheck. But then we realize later that what’s most important in life is that you do what you are most passionate about. I have always been passionate about the arts, fashion and design and am lucky enough that I get to do that now.
Beautiful, beautiful photos and lovely story with every single item… Who is in charge of that? 
House of Isla is basically a one-woman show. I do practically everything for the shop from the design ideas to the execution and the production. It could get pretty daunting at times but I must say that it is really fulfilling as I get to do all the things I love like design, writing, photography and even a little bit of web design.
Are you working (also sewing, crocheting) alone? 
Yes I do everything alone but hopefully in the future when House of Isla will be an established name, I would like to give back to the community by hiring and training women most especially housewives. I would want them to be able to earn despite their being a stay-at-home mom.
You are using vintage fabrics and materials. Where do you buy/find them? 
I believe our city pioneered in the sale of preowned apparels in my country and bulks of these apparels are very beautiful vintage pieces. Sometimes I get to see very beautiful fabrics but very outdated or unflattering design but I buy it anyway. We also have some fabric shops that sell vintage laces and buttons…one of my fave places to visit. I do not however use vintage materials exclusively. I like to mix things up with whatever beautiful material I could buy.
Favorite materials/fabrics to work with?
Lace and more lace!
Where do you find inspiration?
From nature, from the materials themselves and from myself. I like fashion and trends (well not all of them) but I have this neurotic impulse to be different at times. Guess  I am a little stubborn if not a tad proud that way. So basically I just make what I think I would want to wear. Sometimes I just let the materials speak for themselves. I would stare at a piece of lace and ask it…how would you want to be transformed?...lol!
When did you start sewing? Self-taught or?
I am pretty much self-taught. But sewing seems to have run in the family as my aunts and my grandmother were great seamstress. As a kid, I have memories of my grandma and her sewing machine, tape measure wrapped on her shoulders, her feet on the pedal while her wrinkled hand moves the wheel. Then I would find boxes after boxes of my mom’s pretty dance dresses with wide collars, big colorful floral fabrics and insane length that would make any mom of my generation want to grab a seam ripper! I would gasp with delight and say, “Gramma really made these dresses?”
When you are creating garments is that a planned work or "progress in making"?
I do make a rough sketch but most of the time I end up with a totally different design altogether.
Do you plan to expand on the global market?
Going global would be any designer’s dream. Hopefully I could break into the global market someday…but am not rushing. Trying too hard spoils all the fun.
What are you doing when not working on House of Isla? 
I am just your average mom, doing wifey errands. These days though, House of Isla had been incorporated in my daily life so much, so that it had no longer feel like it is some kind of a job or a task that I need to do. When I lock myself in my workspace, it’s like escaping in some part of the house with a hot cup of coffee while reading a pretty good book.
The love for the nature and earth…where from? 
When I started the House of Isla, I wanted to have some sort of advocacy and not to be just another online fashion shop. Saving the environment had always been so close to my heart. Having been raised in the great countryside, I grew up playing in the river, climbing trees and just being one with nature. And though I was taken to the city to start my schooling, I have always kept this great affinity with nature.
What do you think about this sweatshop craziness all over the world? Do you think people are too busy or maybe too shallow to think about who makes their clothes?
I wouldn’t say shallow, maybe uninformed in such a way that we do not really pay attention much on this side of the coin. But I believe a lot has changed and people are no longer just mere consumers. They developed a keen sense of curiosity as to how the product was produced and by whom. Sadly of course, sweatshops are still here and had been grounds for abuse and exploitation for many and many years now.
Your advice/message for misslikey readers; How to become more earth-friendly? 
Going green is really something you can’t achieve overnight. It's a lifestyle that requires great patience and dedication. Some people find it hard to go green because it inconveniences them. But it is all just a matter of taking one baby step at a time…like reducing 30min shower to 15mins. Or instead of purchasing new clothes, why not DIY your old ones! There are really a ton of things we could do with our old stuff. We just need a little dose of imagination.

Visit Aileen's Blog and House of Isla Shop
Become House of Isla fan on facebook


Angelic said...

Your blog is gorgeous! I mean its absolutely beautiful!

Aileen Kim said...

Thanks Nina for this...i feel very honored!

The Many Colours of Happiness said...

I don't normally follow fashion blogs, but yours is gorgeous and I love the style!
This interview was fantastic, what an inspiration.

Heather said...

Wow...I think I'm joining you in your designer crush! Great interview. Gorgeous fashion!

Allie said...

This was so great! Loved reading it!




Krysten @ Why Girls Are Weird said...

Wow so gorgeous!

Sick by Trend said...

fabulous!!! :D


Have a nice weekend!


Anonymous said...

this was so fascinating to read! what an inspiring woman :) xx

Nana said...

I love how your blog is so diverse! Another very inspiring post, as always XD

Denissa Hady said...

beautiful blog!!

design elements said...

fabulous! Happy weeekend!

Cat said...

It's official, I have a crush now too! Great post :)

xx Cat brideblu

Astrid Storm said...

this is so stunning! i've been scrolling up and down you're blog for a while now, and i gotta say.
If you want to, you could pass by my blog.


she is a gem. her precious words, and I have quite the penchant for well phrased words. the sweetness, the green initiative she is just perfect!

OneCraftyFox said...

I absolutely love this interview, you have completely captured a little piece of Aileen in this feature! She is such a lovely girl with a lovely shop :)

Very nice also to find your blog, Nina. You have done a beautiful job!

Marie Duplessis said...



Victoria said...

Nice post !!

Gizelle Faye | Vanilla Ice Cream said...

i adore aileen! <3 this is a great interview...good job! <3

♥ vanilla ice cream ♥
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heather said...

this is such a wonderful interview!! thank you ladies for brightening my day!

Sylvie said...

wow, interesting, thanks for sharing!

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