Designer Marissa Maximo is behind the artisan fashion brand Anaak. The unique name comes from the Filipino dialect Tagalog’s word for “child”. According to the brand, Anaak stands for the seeker and the carefree child that each of us carries. Marisa prefers to design her collections “on the road” as she says, opposite to the practice of almost every major brand that you can think of. Namely, major brands design their clothes on one end and then sent a design ready to be produced on the other end of the world. But Marissa dislikes that concept and she decided to start her own brand and to work with artisans across the world in order to develop unique sustainable ideas for her designs and fabrics. Moreover, Marissa employs artisans and women mainly in rural areas in India and Bolivia and transforms their traditional craft skills into high-end fashion.
Every single piece of her collections is made from natural, organic fabrics that are highly breathable and eco-friendly. Anaak’s favorite fabric to use is khadi, a traditional hand-spun and handwoven cotton cloth from India. Anaak’s mission is greater than just hitting sales goals and keeping up with current trends. Namely, Marissa travels all around the world to seek for techniques, ideas, and fabrics. The designer is always open to learn and implement new techniques and that is why she specifically visits each area and works with the local people there. She partners with local artisans, craftspeople, and especially disadvantaged women and uses ancient techniques of production in the most sustainable way.
Her Fall 2017 Collection involves timeless designs for women who respect the environment and prefer classic elegance.
The idea for Anaak was born while Marissa was working for some major brands. She was a director of artwork and color at Anthropologie. Back in the 2000’s, she was traveling around India, China, Indonesia, Taiwan, and South America to develop the brand’s prints by hand because the technology was not capable of doing it at that time. While traveling she was fascinated by the different cultures, local artwork, and crafts and slowly began to realize that she dislikes the fast pace that major fashion brands dictate. She explains that Anthropologie went from having 4 seasons to 12 and was not living her enough space to focus on specific ideas. She disliked the fact that she had to follow fashion calendars. She also worked for Urban Outfitters, but finally in 2005 decided to make a change and launched Anaak as a brand that takes its time and makes clothes that truly matter to people who wear them.
Marissa explains that her designs are mostly hand-made and with the smallest possible negative impact on the earth. They are relaxed beach-ready style, space efficient and with no need to iron. Each piece is carefully custom dyed and hand- stitched. Anaak’s dyes are azo-free, eco-friendly and from vegetable origin. Marissa’s goal with local production in areas in India and Bolivia is to support and encourage local business and women in rural areas. She is so determined to building relationships with her employees that she personally visits each center of production to ensure that her people work in satisfactory conditions. They produce in small batches to preserve the uniqueness of each piece of clothing.
Marissa explains that she can hardly follow fashion calendars now, but she tries to look for fabrics and ideas at least a year in advance. Unlike other brands, Marissa isn’t focused on aggressive marketing. She claims that some of her costumers don’t know that Anaak’s clothes are created by artisans, but they still enjoy wearing them. And that is what truly matter to her. Marissa’s goal is to produce clothes for women who are seeking for elegant, simple, eco-friendly clothes and at the same time carry a meaningful story with them.
Her designs can be found only at certain places. You can find her collections at Ron Herman in Los Angeles and Bird Brooklyn and 180 in New York. Marisa’s official website is AnaakCollection.com. On her website, she shares the inspirational stories that are behind the clothes she makes.
Photo Courtsey of Stella Berkofsky, Anaak Instagram