Revolutionary of the Month- Evie Willsteed
Meet designer and our Revolutionary of the Month Evie Willsteed from Brisbane. We chatted to Evie about her exciting label Genkstasy, her inspiration for creating luxe ungendered street wear and her strong ethical and sustainable values.
What inspired you to start Genkstasy?
It was a combination of things. Not being able to find the clothing I wanted to wear and I was getting pretty tired of seeing really genderised clothing, especially because I’m a bit of a hip hop head and really into hip-hop street style. Often women will dress in a tomboy way, but it’s not the same for men. I was wanting to create something that was still edgy street style but without the gender attached. In a way it’s a form of freedom and provides the ability to express yourself authentically.
Where does the name Genkstasy come from?
It actually started off as a joke that a friend and I made when we were visiting Japan. In Japanese the word Genky means excited, full of spirit and energy; and then Ecstasy means excited and euphoria. We thought if you combine those two words together, just how excited could you possibly be. I really liked the word so I decided to use it for the label.
What are your main influences?
Creatively, I’m inspired by music and the people I surround myself with. I’m very lucky to have lots of friends that are musicians and artists who are politically educated. Japanese art, culture and their aesthetic also really inspire me. I like the thoughtfulness and spirituality of their culture including the way they go about their everyday life. They respect their surroundings like the way they take off their shoes and place them by the door to preserve the cleanliness of their home. I think that’s a really beautiful thing to bring into my Australian culture.
Tell us about your ethics related to fashion and your label.
It’s very important to me that I produce clothing with all ethical and sustainable products, not made from sweat shops in Australia or overseas.
I also strive to help counteract fast fashion ideology and promote a slow fashion ideal where you’re defining your wardrobe and curating it so that it’s quintessentially you and you feel amazing in all the clothes that you wear them for a long time. They don’t go out of season and you wear it until you can’t wear it anymore and then you can pass it onto someone who’s going to love it just as much. Getting more value in what you do buy so you’re willing to pay more for it in the long term. Sometimes I feel proud of the younger generations, I feel like high school kids have more of a quality over quantity attitude than when I was young.
How do you ensure your clothes are un-gendered?
It’s quite tricky because as much as I want things to be completely ungendered, men and women have different bodies. Having a good fit is really important, I want clothes to be flattering and feel comfortable. With my latest range, I’ve been sending it out and getting feedback from people about what they think about the fit. I’ve made some clothes with a slightly more ‘masculine’ fit with a straight figure and some things in more of a ‘feminine’ fit so they have more of a waist line and hip combination. All clothes are designed to be able to be worn by either gender if they have that figure or would like to have more of that shape. For example, I have a high-waisted wide leg pant that both men and women can wear but it’s designed with a cinched waist wider hip body shape in mind so that it fits really well on that body shape but it also fits on a straight body shape. I try and test them on my friends who have a couple of different body types to make sure that they’re going to transfer as well as possible.
I also get a lot of style requests or influence from a lot of my close friends, “Oh I would love a pair of pants like this or I would love a skirt with this shape” so I will put that in my range because they really want one and can’t find it so I will make one for them.
What’s next for Genkstasy?
There won’t be seasonality in my range because I don’t want to follow trends. Instead, I’m creating light and shade collections rather than summer and winter collections which will work with one another but also allow for changeability. If you feel like wearing bright and colourful clothes or conversely dark clothes, Genkstasy will have you covered. I will be designing with a global view in mind so that pieces can be worn in either season and over many years.
Ultimately, I would really love to be able to have my own sustainable foot wear label with skate wear and sneakers in addition to Genkstasy’s current range. I would also love to work with more designers and manufacturers to have ethical clothing created in Australia. I feel that it’s one of those things that’s possible but I just have to keep working at it. It’s a big dream at the moment but I’m hoping to achieve it.
Story: Jacqui Miholos