I while ago I had an interview with Katie Metalcafe for her upcoming book publication, Nordland. I was super busy at the time and forgot about. I didn't follow the progress of it and couldn't get my hands on the publication so I'm transcribing a part of it here, for anyone interested in knowing a bit more about me and what I do.
By katie Metalcafe
Looking through my wardrobe and seething with frustration, never finding what I want when shopping, having to settle for the generic designs from multinational retail-clothing companies because it was all I could afford gave me enough stimulus to build my own capsule collection.
It started as a personal project that got people interested, and soon gained a substantial number of supporters on social media with a demand for my apparel.
So, I launched ALYEN, the name came to me naturally.
My name is Aly, and I’m an “alien” by political definition. Added to my interest in science fiction and futurist fashion, ALYEN was the first (and best) choice for my brand’s name.
Fun fact. ALYEN headquarters are located in an building right in Milky Way street, between Jupiter and Apollo streets, behind Star lane.
ALYEN is a label founded on deconstructive minimalism. What is this exactly and what does it mean for you, your label and customers?
It is all about basics interpreted differently, simple shapes looked from another angle, disconected and dismantled. I am not changing what already exists and functions, rather just creating a new way to wear it. Shifting the norm of conventional design.
You are passionate about environment conservation, and handpick deadstock fabrics use in your work. Why is using deadstock fabrics so important and do you try and encourage others to do the same?
Deadstock fabric means material rejected, left over, or thrown away. Whether is synthetic or organic, energy was wasted in the creation of it, utilizing it reduces our carbon print. I try to take part in environmental ethics and energy conservation as best as I can.
Promoting and encouraging consciousnes is an intrinsic aspect of what I do at ALYEN.
One of the (many) things I admire about ALYEN is the use of neutral colours. Was this the intention from the very beginning? What are benefits of using only neutral colours for your creations?
The focus of my work is black, but I believe that to fully appreciate darkness there must be some light peeking through the cracks. That light sometimes translates into muted colors, a vague reflection from the outside.
I am influenced by the world sorrounding me, the white snow and gray skies of the long Finnish winters, the earthy shades of the untouched woods and washed out tones of the lakes and ocean that enclose the place I’ve chosen as a home.
The benefits of my usage of (lack of) color, is that it complements in a very honest way the foundation of my creations.
What can be found in your wardrobe? Do you find yourself dressing in all black a lot of time?
The predominant element in my wardrobe is asymmetry.
There is a big deal of dark colors in my wardrobe, but my personal style is not exclusive to black.
Your background is in astrophysics, so what prompted your move into fashion? I’m also intrigued by the fantastic ‘clothing scientist’ title you gave yourself and your non-traditional methods. How does your approach to fashion differ from most designers?
I’ve never been into fashion, but I’ve always found an appeal in style and aesthetics. Unlike other designers I never went to fashion school to learn the common techniques to make patterns and sew, instead I do it with what I know and feel most comfortable. Science. Using geometric sequences is my favorite process in the making of patterns, but along with other mathematical principles my garment construction has been most satisfying and meticulously precise. I could not define myself as anything else than a clothing scientist.
Could you talk through the process of creating an ALYEN garment?
Sometimes I start with a sketch, others I work exclusively on the manequinn, but more often than not, and against the conventional norm, I skip everything and go directly to flat pattern making, with the mental picture of whatever is that I want to make, this is where not having an academic formation in garment construction is irrelevant. Science gives me an advantage.
In what ways does your home country of Finland influence your work? What aspects of your culture speak to you and inspire what you do?
Finland’s wilderness, remoteness, and purity are definitely some of the aspects that influence my work. There is also the fact that Finland’s use of renewable energy and methods of reducing emissions into the atmosphere have made me grow environmentaly conscious and that is something that ALYEN engages on, handpicking deadstock fabrics, and using textiles made from materials, like recycled cotton and plastic, reducing the need for using extra resources that contribute to climate change, human exploitation, and animal cruelty.
In this throw away age, just how important is it to make clothing that actually lasts?
People tend to think quality means being invincible to the elements, but when we talk about long lasting clothes the most important factor to focus on is what resonates with your personal style. We should stop following trends that change every year and start taking proper care of our clothes, at the end it doesn't matter if the things in your wardrobe are handmade or mass produced, colors fade, fibers break down, but a timeless piece in one's individual preferences will result in a long life for your clothes.
What impact do the long Finnish winters have on your creativity?
Winter in Finland is crude and dark, but it has an undeniable spirit, and beauty. I struggle with many things during Winter, but never with lack of inspiration.
When you pause and focus on the future of ALYEN, what do you see?
I see ALYEN staying small and environmentaly conscious. I want to keep being involved in my own production and interaction with my costumers fully.