An interview with Christina Peiris, AOD Alumni and fashion designer on making a difference through fashion with her own label ‘XTINA’
A career in Fashion Design comes with many challenges as it is a creatively-fueled, competitive industry in which you are as good as your next big idea. It is a multi-faceted profession which connects people and inspires them to embrace their true selves. Christina touches on the challenges and inspiration behind her own brand and how she strives to make a change in the fashion industry.
Tell us a bit about your brand. What does it stand for and to whom does it appeal to?
X.TINA is a humanitarian brand which was launched in Abu Dhabi in April 2017. I wanted to cater to both the high end customer and the youth with an affordable collection. X.TINA is divided in to two categories, designer and pup. The designer category is all batik, batik on silks and 100% cotton fabrics to curate timeless designs. The pup category of X.TINA is mainly targeted at our younger customers with our chic basic pieces. I wanted my brand to appeal to various types of women, from minimalistic pieces to slightly dressy designs catering to our customers’ every need.
What made you want to start your own fashion design brand?
I’ve always wanted to get in to the fashion industry since I was 7 years old. Designing and fashion has always been my interest from a young age. After graduating with my degree in fashion design, I worked in Abu Dhabi for a year but I always knew that I was eventually going to have my own business. Soon after I came to Sri Lanka, I started working on my brand which took approximately a year before I launched it. I experimented with different manufacturers and artisans for batik until I was fully satisfied and only then I was able to launch my brand with content.
How do you coordinate the process behind your brand operation from production to photo shoots?
When it comes to X.TINA I make sure to thoroughly organize production process. I get all my garments manufactured a month before a collection launch which gives me three weeks to get the shoot and bulk order finalized. Meticulous planning and effective organizing is key.
You are the brand ambassador for your own fashion brand. How do you reflect that when you do your day-to-day work?
The best part about being the brand ambassador for my own brand is having control over how I look, what I do and what I chose to post via social media. I don’t put on a mask just because I am representing my brand. I stay true to myself and what I really stand for and that portrays through X.TINA and social media
What was your inspiration behind your brand and your first collection?
The name X.TINA was coined by the nick name given to the name Christina worldwide, it’s like how people refer to CHRISTmas as X,MAS. I wanted to launch a humanitarian brand where I was able to give back to society for a cause that was close to my heart. My first collection is dedicated to batiks and a percent from each garment sold is donated to the cancer home in Maharagama. This inspires me to expand, continue and love what I do every day knowing that we are able to help these. That was my main inspiration behind launching X.TINA.
What are the challenges you face as an entrepreneur?
I think my biggest challenge as an entrepreneur has been juggling three jobs. Apart from running X.TINA I also manage a travel blog (loveplate.blog) where I do almost all of the photography and write ups. I am also the brand ambassador for Island craft (fashionmarket.lk) where I am able to follow my hobby in being a model. When it comes to X.TINA I get most of my fabrics from Abu Dhabi and Dubai. Spending several days hunting for the perfect fabric, spending long hours at the manufactures and being in charge of sending the products out to our customers has been a crazy journey but it’s also something I thoroughly enjoy and I’m so thankful that I had a family who supported me to follow my dreams. The key is not to give up, challenges always come up no matter what you do in life, it’s being able to overcome them that show how passionate you are about what you do.
What motivates you to keep designing and work towards your passion
Because it’s been a childhood dream I grew up constantly imagining what my life would be as a designer. Spending four years towards pursing my degree in fashion has also been my biggest motivation as those long hours working over night have inspired me to keep going. In the back of my mind I always imagine the smiles of the cancer patients when X.TINA and our customers are able to support them. I make sure to stay motivated no matter what obstacles I have to face.
How did your education in fashion design help you in starting out on your own?
AOD laid the foundation for my degree with the unconditional help and support from my lecturers. They were able to help me love designing even more than I already did. They helped me grow and understand the fashion industry in a whole other level. There’s so much that goes in to X.TINA that I have learnt at AOD and I’m forever thankful that my father was able to support me pursue my dreams.
What advice do you have for students who love to be part of a fashion business?
There is more to fashion than just “drawing”, When you have your own business in fashion, you’ll realize that sketching out the designs and handing it over to professionals isn’t all it takes. You need to be in charge of your own brand or someone else will be in charge of it. Don’t be in a hurry to get your business going, take your time to figure out what you want to do. Figure out what changes you would like to make in the fashion industry. It’s important to stay true to who you are. There are enough clothing brands out there already and it will be something different that gets your customers more involved in your brand. Don’t worry about whom you have to compete with, let them compete with you.