I am telling you, Irini Spinou is a sweetcase herself! Jewelry and accessories designer Irini, who’s brand Sweetcase is one of the most successful in Greece, is one of the most smiling and optimistic people I have met through imatioθiki. A hard worker, whose creations and designs reflect happiness effortlessly. Here she is in her super cute, 50s inspired apartment in Kolonos, posing for imatioθiki.
How did you come up with the name Sweetcase?
It’s suitcase, but made sweet. I love travelling and I collect suitcases like crazy. But also accessories are like garments you can carry with you everywhere. And what I want my creations to bring out is this childlike happiness, the innocence and joy. So I got the words mixed up and ended up with Sweetcase!
Do you remember the first item you sold? Where can someone find your creations?
Of course I remember! It was a pair of earrings and I sold it to some person working at the School of Fashion Design I was attending at the time. But then through my blog and my etsy shop I have sold a lot of things throughout the world. In Greece, I am selling my designs at shops in Athens, Larisa, Chania, Simi and Paros.
What is characteristic about your designs?
I have this obsession with fabrics and materials in general. And I simply adore buttons. I collect them actually! Once a friend’s grandmother who owned a sewing goods store was about to close the business for ever, so I wasted no time and just bought all the buttons she was selling! I am telling you, I was like Scrooge in his vault. Only I was diving in buttons, not coins! As for the fabrics, I try to find rare prints or really old ones, especially from the 40s or 50s. I am also a big fun of ribbons.
And how about colors? Do you prefer any?
No, I love them all. But I have to say, lately I am really loving orange combined with fuchsia!
Has the economic situation in Greece affected your work at all?
No, I continue doing what I love doing and how I feel like doing it. I haven’t changed the way I work, I haven’t changed the materials I use…. I wouldn’t want have a lower quality in my products, because I try to save money on the fabrics! And I price my creations based on the materials and on common sense! I want my accessories to be worn every day by the average girl, so I keep that in mind when putting a price on something.
How did your love for vintage begin?
My mom was really into second hand clothes when I was younger. She used to wear really special items and have a lot of antique furniture in her apartment, so I got influenced by her and started loving vintage myself. I would say I am more into Parisian style though, but I try to bring vintage to today’s needs and style. It’s more like adjusting it to now.
What is it so great about back then? Is it the clothes? The attitude of the people?
It’s everything. People were going through some really hard times as well back then, but somehow they used to throw themselves into what they love and be optimistic about it – which is not really the case today. And the clothes were so girly and feminine…
Your latest collection is called like a flower and is really inspired by floral patterns. Is it stressful to design a new collection every 6 months?
No, not at all! It’s the best thing! You think a lot, and you sketch a lot, and you get inspired and you go on fabric and material hunting at the shops downtown.
What do you love about Athens? And what do you hate about it?
I love everything about Athens! The shops, the historic center, the area surrounding Acropolis, Psiri area. I grew up here and I wouldn’t change it for the world! I would, however, love to see this city become a bit more daring. I wish to see more colors and more art in Athens. I would want it to become more playfull. In window shops, on the people, on buildings, on the streets… everywhere!
Where would you live in Greece if it weren’t for Athens?
Syros or Corfu. I love the architecture on both islands. But if I had to stay abroad I would move to Lisbon. It’s such a beautiful city, full of colors, amazing cafes, people full of smiles and energy, and many many good designers. I love how they have kept their tradition and managed to maintain their origins and roots throughout all these years.
Is it hard working at home? Would you like to open a showroom or shop of your own?
No, it’s not hard at all. It’s really cool actually, because if I come up with an idea at night, I have all my tools here and I can test that idea, I don’t have to wait until the next morning to get to my workshop. But, yes, I would want to have a shop of my own. It’s in my future plans.
Is it hard to be a designer in Greece?
It is. Unfortunately it is. It’s hard to make yourself available to the public, and to let people know about your work. There are not many marketing opportunities in Greece and I have discussed this with other designers as well, and we all feel the same.
A few comments on the things pictured above:
All the pillowcases are made by Irini. / The white ring with the two black lines Irini is wearing belongs to her mother. / The bags, clutches, necklaces and bracelets are all Swetcase. / The two wooden handle bags pictured above belong to her personal collection. She bought the handles from a street market in Lisbon. / The black button she is holding is one of her favorites. She is not planning on using it on any creation. Like some of her favorite buttons, she likes to look at them and treat them like jewelry.