Atlas sat down to speak to Conflict of Ego founder Alanna Wain to talk all-things confidence, feminism and making our dreams a reality. As an avid runner and ambitious designer, Alanna is producing styles that embody confidence, originality and style – think mixing luxurious silks with sporty jersey and sexy heels – clearly a marker of her stylish yet sporty personality. To find out more about how running and a love for fashion has spiraled Conflict of Ego ahead, read on to discover how this brand celebrates the ever-evolving self and champions diversity head on. Words by Jessica-Christin Hametner. Photographed by Sam Deaman.
A: Tell us about yourself and your brand.
CoE: Hi! I am Alanna Wain and I’ve launched Conflict of Ego at the end of July 2016. I studied fashion at Manchester Metropolitan University (check) where I learnt about textiles, marketing and the history of fashion as well as owning your own business. After graduating, I was a buyer for the womenswear department at TK Maxx. They are a great company – I have had a good grounding there about what’s great quality and what the customer wants. We definitely want to design things that were made to last and perhaps one day sit in a vintage store, so the quality is really important to us.
A: Have you always been creative?
CoE: I have always been interested in fashion. When I was younger I always thought I’d have my own business – I thought it would be more of my own boutique or shop to be honest, selling other people’s brands. But then I think there are more opportunities now – the internet and social media, for instance. They’ve not made it easier to start a brand, as it’s still just as challenging, but they’ve made it more accessible for you to start a brand, to gain a following and also to market things yourself rather than spend lots of money on PR or marketing companies. You can do a lot of it yourself through social media and pop-up stores.
A: What sparked your interest in fashion and how has your background influenced your work?
CoE: I have always had a retail background. From the age that I could work I did have a job and my first one was at Dolcis shoe shop based up North where I am originally from, so I have always loved fashion and the environment of being in a shop, which also gives you the opportunity to learn so much from your customers. I am also obsessed with buying clothes! I used to be a sprinter, and being a runner, it’s made me very motivated. I am not afraid of hard work and the two combined together is definitely what’s driven me to be in this position now although it’s scary at times!
A: How has your work evolved since you began your own label?
CoE: The brand has evolved I’d say. The idea of Conflict of Ego is the idea of a conscious brand, of the ever-evolving self. That’s why the logo, for instance, is a circle with people within the logo. It’s the idea that people evolve, the world keeps changing and as a brand ethos we’re definitely about that. If anything I have just been able to refine what it is that we’re doing as a brand and what we stand for. Every season, the collections are inspired by a social or political movement. We try and address it in a fun way in some of the slogans we use, for instance.
A: What kind of fabrics/materials (if jewellery) do you like to work with and why?
CoE: We use silks in every collection that we do. It’s the idea that the pieces are versatile and that one can wear in lots of different ways like dressing them up or down. We say Conflict of Ego is available for all moods – like mixing silks with jersey, so you could wear a nice silk shirt with some jogging bottoms and then you could put heels on or wear trainers with it or put a hoody over a silk dress. For our A/W collection we have mixed some of the different fabrics because it fits in with the exotic and hybrid, with the idea that people now are a mix of lots of different things, as the world has become very diverse. There’s always a deeper meaning within the collections.
A: Who do you envision wearing your pieces?
CoE: Definitely outspoken people who have a ‘fuck you’ attitude. They’re confident and not afraid facing things head on. They’re diverse, proud of themselves and who they are, not afraid to be themselves. They’ve got a good attitude.
A: As a designer, where do you draw your inspiration from for your collections?
CoE: We did a collaboration with a feminist artist that we just connected with over social media. I am a feminist and not afraid to say it. That’s the thing that’s important to me about Conflict of Ego: that we do empower people to work together, work with new and emerging talents and help people as well. That’s definitely something I want to do more of in the near future. The idea with the artist collaboration is that it’s a self-love series and we say that self-love is an empowerment, people – be it women or men. The illustrations that she did were ‘selfies’ of herself of a time in her life where she is becoming to love her body, so we turned the individual illustrations into a print, making them into quite classic styles, while also having some fun with the jersey styles and the embroidery.
A: How does it make you feel seeing someone wearing your creations on the street?
CoE: When your first sale happens and you see people trying on your pieces and loving them – at first it left me in kind of a shock and amazement that someone actually likes what you’ve made. But it’s a proud and happy moment too. I want people to love what we produce and design because I love it and with every piece we do we got to feel like that about it especially when you are a small brand. You’ve got to love what you do and what you’re producing and believe in every style.
A: Do you have any fashion/design rules you live by or a motto?
CoE: You just need one statement piece and don’t need to overkill it with something. The rest speaks for itself. I am also a firm believer in mixing things, like a bit of vintage with high street or with something designer, with new brands and known brands.
A: Do you have any tips or advice for young aspiring designers?
CoE: Just go for it – you’re going to make mistakes and that’s fine and expected – anything is possible. I feel that people should just go for it because if I can do it you can do it. The world is your oyster.
See the whole presentation in the below gallery: