CULTURE

Playing on fashion and humor

Ever wanted to say something like «Men are guilty» or «I need a man» out loud? Leave it to 2B to make the bold statements. All you need is your sense of humor and feel for fashion. A young Greek apparel company specializing in funky T-shirts, clothes, footwear and an assortment of accessories, 2B (which includes the 2B and B-Egoiste collections) is the brainchild of two sisters: Vasso Moubayacioglou, in charge of the company’s creative aspect, and Veta Moubayacioglou, who is developing the rapidly growing business side. A mega-fan of logos and graphics, Vasso Moubayacioglou marvels in playing with brand names, taking their established notion a step ahead. With this line, the 2B company isn’t interested in advertising for the sake of defamation. Instead, it wants to blend freedom of expression with popular culture. «I call it street couture,» Vasso said. «There’s a message attached to it, the kind of message which carries a sociological play on the relationship between men and women, through lots of humor.» The best-selling 2B T-shirts, for example, seem to be capturing a more general mood in fashion lately, where the T-shirt becomes just a little bit more than the message. The war between Angelina and Jennifer supporters, for instance, is still fresh. «People could argue that messages on T-shirts are somewhat passe and I could agree with that. But I don’t get into this kind of fashion thinking. I enjoy the idea of the message, there’s some kind of childhood aspect to it. I put across the kind of message I want.» Think of a T-shirt reflecting, according to the designer, today’s woman: glittering rhinestones, romantic flowers, a basketball, a car logo and some old-fashioned, traditional lace. Handmade in Greece, 2B’s production levels depend on orders placed each season. With a broad clientele and target group, ranging from young girls to mature women, a large amount of the company’s business is conducted abroad, at international trade fairs, for instance. That’s where the sisters are always surprised when potential clients find it hard to believe the company is Greek, rather than Italian or French. The brand’s success has triggered fierce competition, not to mention a fair amount of copying, and Vasso notes that a number of trials are under way. At the same time, besides the local market, the collections travel to a variety of outlets in Monaco, France, Italy, Spain, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Japan and China, among other fashion-hungry spots. Stemming from a successful career in advertising and art direction, Vasso started working on edgy items – primarily in order to enrich her own wardrobe – in 2002. The collections’ quick success, however, imposed rapid company growth. With more outlets demanding new merchandise, the siblings decided to embark on a T-shirt collection. Nowadays, besides the accessories, 2B and B-Egoiste offer T-shirts, jeans, ready-to-wear, shoes and, coming up next summer, a collection of sexy beachwear. The influence of advertising is obvious in the designer’s work. For Vasso, designing is very much a matter of creative strategy, while rising sales act as a measure of success. This designer is far from molding fabrics on mannequins. «I use the same line of thinking like I used to do with my corporate clients,» explained the designer. «Back then I worked on drafts. Now I’m dealing with different raw materials; instead of A4 paper for presentation purposes, I use a pair of jeans or a pair of shoes.» The designer enjoys experimenting and assures that every collection witnesses a complete change of patterns and materials. With a family stemming from Istanbul, a few Oriental influences are in the cards, yet all collections have a global flair. «I’m not playing in the narrow sense of fashion,» Vasso said. «This is because the creative aspect here is not led by what is happening in fashion worldwide, but rather follows its own course of development.» Vasso also constantly renews the collections and offers clients and buyers fresh choices. She doesn’t play follow the leader, always playing it safe with trends. For instance, when turquoise featured prominently in accessory design a couple of years ago, she eschewed it. She had no desire to use the stone in her work that season. «The way I look at my life – and the way we all work during the day and go out at night – I want a simple pair of jeans, so that we feel comfortable, from morning to night,» she commented. But that doesn’t mean she is promoting a total 2B look, since the collections display a certain amount of «loudness.» On the contrary, the 2B team wants to encourage clients and stores carrying the collections to mix and match pieces for the appropriate effect. «I’m interested in every piece operating in an autonomous way and for it to be within the concept of each collection,» the designer said. Are the collections built on a coherent theme every time? «I love to play and I do so over and over again. I want to do things for me. It’s like if I see something in a shop window, would I be urged to go in and buy it? When I’m working on a design I know when to stop, so that it’s not too much. Something with character,» Vasso explained. «I’m also interested in whoever wears our pieces, no matter where in the world they may be, for them to draw attention.» And they do – judging from the fan club so far, who include 2005 Eurovision winner Elena Paparizou, bubbly presenters of morning television shows, and Real Madrid star players’ spouses. 2B may emanate a touch of show biz, but, despite the celebrity flash, Vasso Moubayacioglou says the feel-good factor is the most important. «It’s about women feeling glamorous, while enjoying a sense of anarchy in the combination of fabrics and styles,» she concluded. For more information log on to www.art2b.gr.