Designer Eftychia Karamolegkou joins Document to discuss the past, present, and future of her eponymous label
A year after receiving a master’s in womenswear from Central Saint Martins in 2017, Greek designer Eftychia Karamolegkou launched her eponymous label. Ever since, EFTYCHIA has been carving out a unique position in the world of women’s clothing.
At its core, EFTYCHIA is a label dedicated to defining its own feminine identity—one centered on freedom of spirit, strength, and comfort. It’s private, but not timid. In order to realize and evolve this identity, Karamolegkou utilizes traditionally masculine tailoring and details that reveal themselves only to the wearer, like satin jacket interiors or velvet-lined pockets. Strength in fit has become the brand’s hallmark.
Since the label creates clothes with a specific type of person in mind, past collections exist in a certain stylistic sweet spot, categorized as business wear. But as the brand evolves, this definition seems less fitting, and maybe more importantly, less needed. Eftychia Karamolegkou joins Document to discuss her label’s growth, the Fall/Winter 2022 collection, and who she sees as the EFTYCHIA woman.
Peter Miklas: When you started your label, what were your goals as a creator? Have these goals changed since you began?
Eftychia Karamolegkou: The goal was—and still remains—to define a different kind of femininity. One that, at the time of launch in 2018, wasn’t represented enough in the fashion industry. It’s not an androgynous femininity, like many describe it to be: It’s one that doesn’t rely on adornment and what femininity stereotypically brings to mind. The garments are focused on the wearer, hence the hidden details, the quality in materials, the strength in the fit.
Peter: Your first collections were office wear focused. Then the pandemic shifted work culture dramatically. Considering both past collections and your most recent, do you see this shift as an obstacle or an opportunity?
Eftychia: In a way, the pandemic came at the right moment. I had already started feeling limited and restricted by the absolute business wear story I had put the brand in—not regarding tailoring, but in terms of category offerings. I wanted to expand the wardrobe and work in less-constructed pieces, too. At the time, I was worried they wouldn’t fit the brand.
Since Fall/Winter 2021, I’ve been trying to make this shift. Spring/Summer 2022 was the breakout—it might have appeared as an extreme change. I knew the one after that—Fall/Winter 2022, the current collection—would bring a balance and give an indication of where the brand is heading. Now, I feel like I know the brand better. There’s more flexibility and I don’t need to stick to my own ‘boxes.’ The identity is the same—it will always be about tailoring. The woman is the same. The approach, though, is different, which is liberating.
Peter: ‘Business wear’ or ‘office wear’—are these descriptors that you welcome? Have your thoughts on these terms changed since you started EFTYCHIA?
Eftychia: I used business wear as a term to describe this independent woman, who is self-sufficient and her own boss. The style has always been relaxed; it’s not about strict, buttoned-up tailoring. It’s an attire that can be worn anywhere and offers a type of privacy. The clothes don’t ‘wear’ the wearer. They project comfort, confidence, and dynamism—important assets to get any job done.
Business wear is still something I relate to, with the difference being that the location of the office doesn’t dictate the style of garments anymore. I’m avoiding office wear, though, because its semiology is weaker and is associated with a different type of tailoring.
Peter: Could you reveal the source of inspiration for the Fall/Winter 2022 collection? What was the starting point?
Eftychia: Fall/Winter 2022 is about rock-bottom situations, where the only way out is reconnecting with oneself and finding inner strength, as cheesy as it sounds. It’s a seemingly negative theme, with a very positive outcome. In the abyss—the ultimate darkness—organisms produce light in order to survive. The palette of this collection is very dark, with glimpses of light and some color in details, like a shine in the darkness. It’s full-on tailoring with a lot of self-indulgent details, like the inner satin surface that comes out as a stripe on the lapel, or the velvet-lined pockets.
Peter: Tailoring has always been at the heart of the EFTYCHIA label. What is it about tailoring and traditionally masculine shapes that interest you?
Eftychia: I always thought tailoring was like a language. It has so many codes and secrets—by altering just a few details, the message can be completely different. With tailoring and suiting, an amateur eye won’t understand what a connoisseur will. It’s private and extremely verbal at the same time. As soon as you put on a jacket, you better your posture, giving yourself the importance it deserves. Even though it’s not considered a symbol of femininity, [masculine tailoring] best describes this different kind of woman. In a non-ordinary way, she is extremely desirable and irresistible.
Peter: Who is the EFTYCHIA woman? Has she evolved along with the collections, or remained the same?
Eftychia: The essence of the woman has been the same since my MA: independent, without feeling the need to prove herself to others. In terms of freedom of spirit, she’s almost a bachelor—not a bachelorette. Of course, she’s evolving. Her needs are changing and she’s growing exactly as a real person would.
Peter: Would you consider your collections to be gender-fluid? Have you ever thought about designing menswear?
Eftychia: Anything can be gender-fluid—it’s how the person wears it. I design with a woman in mind, just because I can relate to women and understand them. I also find the woman’s body and proportions more interesting to design for.
I have many male customers, though, and I love the fact that my pieces are versatile in that sense. One store in Japan was stocking the brand for male customers only. As long as men are not complaining about the women’s opening on jackets, and the fly’s side on trousers, they are more than welcome to wear my clothes.
Peter: What do you know now that you wish you knew five years ago?
Eftychia: You can’t rely on anyone, but at the same time, you can’t do anything without the help of others. I’d focus on building a team earlier. Building relationships is the most important thing, and I’d definitely look for investment from day one.
Peter: Your most recent collection is the third that has departed from the brand’s original office-based workwear. What’s next for the label?
Eftychia: This was the last part of the transitional trilogy, yes. Like the three stages of shock: mourning, denial, acceptance. I’m now entering a more mature phase for the brand, focusing on establishing its style and identity, business structuring, and hopefully, longevity.