Natalia Altewai and Randa Saome first met each other in Italy, while studying, and launched their brand AltewaiSaome in 2008. I first met them when they were presenting their SS16 collection. Now they are showing at Paris Fashion Week! I am really impressed! The two girls have been making splashes in the news as the up and coming Swedish brand for while now and proclaimed as Designers of the Year at the ELLE gala 2014. They have also designed female soccer jerseys for Adidas and a health tracking bracelet for SONY in 2016.
I meet them for a coffee to talk about their SS2017 collection and their new, more international focus. Natalia and Randa though talk over each other, together as an ensemble and laugh a great deal!
During our conversation it comes out that they produce their garments in a factory near Sofia, Bulgaria, go there very often and love shopska sallad (a bit like Greek sallad) and rakia (strong liquor made of plums). “We stay at the same hotel in Sofia and the bar tender knows when he sees us that we will have Gin & Tonics. We laugh a lot because people call us “Gin & Tonic”! But it is our favorite drink as well.”
Hallo ladies! I am wondering – how does it work when two people design one fashion line? One of you starts drawing and the other one adds some details or?
R: We are a complete chaos. We do not have a way of doing things, a certain order. Of course we start with doing research, we do it together, we never divide anything. But once we start we are all over the place.
We do have disagreements sometimes too. She can hate what I do and I can hate what she does. But we are able make it all into one and suddenly it becomes nice.
I saw your new collection SS2017 and I can see that it is a bit more masculine that the previous one. What is the inspiration for it?
R: The SS17 reflects a dialogue between Scandinavian simplicity and casual affection. An inspiration based on the modern woman’s natural attitude while wearing a man’s shirt. The collection was designed with a thought of sophistication, awareness and feminine strength. We simply wanted to create a collection that obtains a feeling of refined simplicity with a raw touch.
And you are showing it at Paris Fashion Week this year, wow, congrats! How did you go about doing it? What was the response?
We had a showroom during Paris Fashion Week, where we presented the collection to press and buyers. The reactions were very positive and we are happy with the result.
Why did you decide to show only at Paris Fashion Week for SS2017 and not at Stockholm Fashion Week?
R: Our main goal right now is to keep growing. This year we have made big decisions when it comes to market focus. We grow a lot internationally, so we decided to focus on that and slow down on the Scandinavian scene, which has been a big change for us.
Good luck with the international market! I am sure you will be very successful! On a more personal note – if you were not a designer what would you be?
N: Randa would be a pastry chef!
R: Yes, I would, I love cooking and baking, and cakes. I would be creating these giant cheesecakes, I don’t know. (Laughing and looking at Natalia).
N: Now that I have worked in fashion and seen a lot of aspects of it I think I would have become a creative director. Working as an editor or something like that I think because I have an interest in images. But I have never thought about being anything else than designer really.