Ioanna Kourbela was born at Plaka, down town Athens, the place that would become her first atelier years later. Her designing passion was expressed at an early age and at high school she decided to take a design course in order to become an architect. Eventually she was taken over by fashion. The allure of fashion as she says, lays upon its fast rhythm and continuous changes, traits that suit her personality.
She started off her career as a Byer for another company at the imports department, where she developed an eye for the preferences of the Greek and European market, as well as her skills in commercial deals. She returned to the family business and created step by step her first garments, which were chosen as the costumes of the Chorus for a theatrical play in Epidavros. After this incident, Ioanna was besotted with theater and performing arts and decided to study Stage and Costume design.
Question: For almost 15 years, you have been the creative director of the company. How easy was your incorporation in order to take over the established management? What challenges did you face?
Frankly, I didn’t have to take over the management, since what I’ve created started from a zero point, presenting a collection with a solely artistic character and theatrical elements consisting of only 16 pieces. The challenges remain the same. Primarily, my focal point is the artistic expression. Nevertheless, fashion is an applied art and the designing process of a garment should serve the people, providing solutions. As an outcome, a great challenge is achieving a balance between the beauty of a piece of clothing while supporting and highlighting the female form, making it functional in everyday life.
Her inspiration derives mainly from painting, theatre, musing and by nature. The movement of the body and the freedom of expression are the main design element and her motto is “The garment is the home of the body”.
Question: It is notable to say that you export to more than 25 countries globally. What are the elements that brought such a success?
Ioanna Kourbela Basics is the cline with the biggest export rate. We started at around 2005 with Scandinavian countries as our main clients, as their culture is based on functionality, minimal designs and natural materials, values that are strongly connected with the philosophy of our brand. The design, the quality, the ergonomics and the production consistency are definitely the elements of success for a healthy, stable and uprising exporting activity.
The Ioanna Kourbela creations refer mostly to people who seek high aesthetics constantly and morals are in main position in their daily life. The meaning of morals refers to the way the production process of clothes is planned and executed, the human working conditions as well as the quality characteristics of the materials used.
“I believe that people these days are able to distinguish the chaotic difference between a garment made in Athens from Greek cotton (one of the finest qualities of cotton in the world) with that of a garment made of polyester (literally petrol), under inhumane circumstances and against the life of people who work in Asia”
Question: Could you talk to us about the philosophy of “Sustainability”? How is it incorporated in your company?
The philosophy of a sustainable growth, stands for ideas such as the protection of the environment, the economical prosperity through ground breaking methods and the respect towards humans. In general it is and initiative that sets to satisfy the needs of the present without eliminating the ability of future generations to satisfy theirs. Our company, as I told you, based itself from the very beginning to these very elements and is in constant pursuit of integrating such practices in its everyday life and all of the stages of production. Up to this day, we have acquired verifications on the basic stages of production, while our primary materials (cotton and wool) as well as the dying process that we use are fully approved by the corresponding international organizations. Despite the objective difficulties and the high cost of this effort, it is our priority to enrich our production with such acts.
The Ioanna Kourbela Basics collection for S/S 19 is named “Theros” and consists of pastels shades that we find in Mediterranean summer, oversized patterns and a proposal of stripes in three colors. The brand launches for the first time a home wear collection, with pillow cases, couch throws and other designs name “En Oiko”
The Ioanna Kourbela Collection for S/S 19 is named “Dreaming Flower” and the main theme is found among flower patterns, while sustaining its femininity and the element of a dream, transferring us to the 1900s.This line has as a referential point the handmade details, presenting the traditional craft of “crochet” applied on lace and striped fabrics. The colors she has chosen are black, white, orange red, brown and pink. Its philosophy initiating from the spring time, is a fully bloomed summer.