Q&A with Saint York Founders: Novi and Illy

Novi Utami and Lubna Sherrin (who prefers to be called Illy), are two young fashion designers, changing the Indonesian fashion industry with their sustainable and ethical streetwear brand, Saint York.

How did you two first meet?

N: We first met at one of our classes during college at the Academy of Art University. Before that, I think we had actually passed by each other randomly outside class.

I: Yes, we first met in a fashion design class back in 2013.

How did you get interested in fashion?

N: For me, I’ve always liked drawing clothing on croquis since I was little. My curiosity for fashion grew overtime, and it became a passion that brings me joy.

I: My interest also started developing when I was little. I used to love collaging, and consumed a lot of fashion magazines since primary school. Because of that, I thought that I would love to work for a magazine, and I chose fashion design by accident really. I had actually applied for fashion merchandising classes in college, but my college advisor mistakenly put me in a sewing class. I ended up really loving it and switched to fashion design major.

With all the brilliant designers in the world, who are your holy trinity of fashion designers?

I: Thierry Meugler, Alexander McQueen, and Rick Owens.

N: Cristóbal Balenciaga, Phoebe Philo, and Iris van Herpen.

How was Saint York born?

I: When I first came back from the United States for good, I really wanted to create my own brand. However, after I quickly realized how hard it would be to run it on my own, I connected with Novi and the rest is history.

N: After visiting several fashion bazaars in Jakarta, we noticed that there is a lack of diversity in Indonesia’s fashion scene. Especially in womenswear, most shops offer feminine designs.

What have been the major challenges?

N: It’s hard to keep a constant production quality because of the lack of resources like fabrics and trims.

I: Aside from the production side, exposing Saint York in a way that is aligned with my vision without the stigma of being pretentious has been the most challenging. Also, of course, the 17 hours work day.

What does creating a sustainable fashion brand mean to you?

I: Being sustainable has been my one true passion since I was a kid. Right now, with Saint York as an outlet, I feel the need to be creative in thinking of ways of designing with sustainability in mind.

N: Creating without destroying the world.

What drives you on?

N: When people love our designs, and the opportunity to change Indonesia’s fashion scene.

I: The idea that I can improve not only myself in being more creative in being more green, but also to to impact our consumers to be more eco-conscious while looking fab is one of the most rewarding experience ever.

Do you have a favorite piece?

N: I absolutely love our Valencia outerwear because of how versatile it is. It suits whatever occasion you have, and it’s also reversible.

I: It’s really hard picking just one, they are all my babies! But one that I have been wearing the most often is our Harlem dress, because not only is it comfortable, it’s fashion forward and functional at the same time.

Where do you see Saint York in 5-10 years?

I: My hopes and wishes for Saint York would be to impact our consumers, and the community around us, for the better of course.

N: In 10 years, I hope Saint York is available globally.

Describe Saint York in 3 words.

N: Unique but practical

I: Fashion forward functional

Leave a comment