It was twelve years ago when Alexia would fit into one of my bookshelves, so as no one could find her when playing hide and seek. I now look at the shelf and I am amazed of how tiny we were. My first grade best friend, who I terribly missed when she had to change schools, looked exactly the same when I saw her a couple of years ago while on holidays. What’s more interesting is that we both became architects and both share a love for fashion. But Alexia Raisi has now just started designing clothes and accessories and is slowly, but steadily starting her own brand, Clothbot. In between architectural plans and patterns, Alexia thrives with creativity in her bauhaus – inspired apartment in downtown Athens.
You have just started your own clothes & accessories line, Clothbot. How did you come up with the name? How did you get started with designing clothes?
I had just bought some stickers that had these robots dancing on vinyls, and that’s how I came up with the name. As for the design part, I have always been one to fix and repair clothes. I would make the sleeves shorter or crop my trousers, generally I would always change the clothes I bought, in order to make them fit better. So a friend bought me this small sewing machine from Telemarketing, as a joke and I started getting used to it. I quickly got my mom’s old sewing machine, which is probably older than I am and started making clothes for me. Friends got interested and I soon started making things for other people.
What is your main focus when designing clothes?
Form. Definitely form. I am not at all into fancy stuff or lots of detail, but form I love. I guess it’s the architect in me that wants to create shapes.
So, I guess you are spending most of your time on clothes now, rather than buildings.
Yes, that’s right. Designing clothes is really making me happy. As an architect at this particular time in Greece, it is hard to find a job, let alone do something really creative. I got a bit disappointed when I realized than most of our work is paperwork and bills. And designing clothes is my hobby… I find it much more pleasing and relaxing.
How would you describe your personal style?
Well, I wear a lot of comfortable clothes, mostly things I can wear all day long. I really love dresses. Dresses for summer and skirts for winter.
Name 5 things in your closet you would like to hold on to forever.
A black pair of tights. A white summer dress. A baggy, comfortable pair of jeans. A scarf. A pair of brown pumps.
What goes on in your closet?
Apart from my clothes, I have a lot of stuff from friends and family, plus all the clothes I have been wearing since grammar school. I get emotionally attached to clothes. You know, a t-shirt that belonged to a friend, that you now wear to sleep…. a shirt that you wore in Junior High, that no longer fits, but you just can’t throw it away.
Where do you mostly do your shopping?
Since I started making my own clothes, I have really cut back on shopping. Now I can spot the flaws more easily and am a tougher judge on the clothes on display.
How do you feel about starting your own business in times of crisis?
It is scary. But at the same time I have the joy of creating something new and I get good feedback from friends, and friend of friends, which gives me enough energy to shut all this crisis-fear down.
What is the hardest part about designing and making clothes?
The time factor. Which is what makes handmade stuff more expensive. But then again, it is custom made for you, and it is much more personal than buying something from a department store.
What about Greeks? Are they stylish?
I think in general, we have the culture of the excess, but I see this slowly fading away. I think lately we are much more open to different styles and dressing in a much more simpler way. But, I have to say that Greek women are really taking good care of themselves and are always careful about their appearance – to the point of not stepping out of your apartment in your workout clothes.
You have lived for almost a decade in Thessaloniki and recently moved to Athens. What is great about this city? And what bothers you? Do you miss Thessaloniki?
The time spent in Thessaloniki was a truly great experience for me. Thessaloniki is the best city to live in when you are a student. But all my friends started moving out, and I also felt ready to make a change in my life, that’s why I moved to Athens. At first I was really focusing on all of Athens’s cliches, like the huge distances and the size of the city and all the traffic. But, truth be told, Athens is beautiful. You can experience totally different scenery in every corner of this city and it has a lot to offer. Turns out, the distances aren’t that long, and everyone is willing to commute a lot, in order to meet each other. My favorite spot in Athens would be Kolokotroni Str. The best bars are there. What I don’t like about Athens, I guess is the traffic, but luckily I don’t have a car, so I don’t have to deal with that a lot.
Which would be your favorite building in Athens?
All the old houses in Plaka, Kerameikos and Anafiotika that are being restored and renovated and turned into workshops and offices and bars. A building like that would also make an ideal home for me!
Which style do you go for, when it comes to decorating your apartment?
As you can see I am a neat-freak. I love boxes and bags and smaller bags. My friends make fun of me, because in my bag I carry four smaller ones, for my cell-phone, make-up etc! And this how I also organize my personal space. But, as you can see, I have lot of stuff. I don’t throw anything away. Ideally, I am all into the picture with the vast empty space and the fabulous chair at the corner with a super-designed lamp on its side. But I could never live in such a place. My theory is keep it neat, but not out of sight. I guess it is the exact opposite of the way I dress!
What do you consider to be a fashion disaster?
When you don’t know where to look at! I hate it when people are wearing too bright and loud clothes! I mean, keep it simple! Of course, if it doesn’t flatter you, don’t wear it would be another rule that can turn out to be a fashion disaster.
Would you say you are inspired by someone or something?
No, not really. I don’t have obsessions.
A few comments on the things pictured above:
Most of the dresses are designed by Alexia herself. / The movie camera is actually working. The blue camera belongs to her dad. / The hair accessory with the pink feather is designed and made by her. The feather was collected at a Greek island, where flamingos rest before migrating. She didn’t see any flamingos. She was lucky enough to find one of their feathers and wear it on her hair. / The paper lips and mustaches were made for her birthday party for her girlfriends and boyfriends. / The striped jacket is the most expensive piece she owns. She bought it from Berlin. / Alexia is doing 3Ds and renders, when not making clothes.