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Janet Jacobs, the editor-in-chief, speaks with Tia Cibani about the colorful universe of Tia Cibani, the pandemic and its impact on the SS21 collection.
Tia Cibani, founder and designer of Tia Cibani Kids, is currently living in North Salem, a scenic town in lovely upstate New York. She closed her Manhattan studio, Chelsea Girl, four years ago after the birth of her second child, and is currently well situated to enjoy the sunlight and natural beauty of the area while staying easily accessible to her clients in New York City. However, Tia considers herself to be truly a global soul. Born in Libya, North Africa, she and her family moved to Canada when she was 6 years old. As Creative Director of her namesake collection for Ports 1961, a high end women's line, Tia developed close relationships with excellent producers in China, working with factories that provide the highest level of craftsmanship and standards. These lasting connections enable Tia to develop her current line at a distance, and to achieve the heirloom quality that Tia Cibani Kids is known for.
When we spoke to Tia in July she said,"We're late with the Spring/Sumer '21 collection. It's a complicated time now! But people are being creative and we keep going, we don't throw in the towel. I have some clients who really wanted to visit the showroom [in North Salem] because these clients had to feel and touch the fabrics. We've invited some of them here, with social distancing, or we can also send fabric swatches. But for most clients we're doing Zoom meetings and of course Playtime B2B digital platform. We've been on Playtime B2B before and we're back on it now. It's a very effective tool."
Tia Cibani is certainly not the only brand to have launched the Spring/Summer 2021 season a little late, as almost everyone in our business has had to improvise and adapt in many ways. For instance, doing a traditional photo shoot this season seemed to Tia to be inappropriate and possibly unsafe. "I've seen photo shoots with kids modeling together and I was very shocked to see it. The kids are on the sets with stylists and others... I said, 'You guys are working?!' We decided to do a different kind of campaign this season. We've engaged several families from around the world: in Australia, Japan, Spain, Holland, France and the United States (Florida). This idea is based on the moment we're in now. We selected the families from their Instagram posts, picking ones we thought were fun, not necessarily the ones that had huge followings. We asked them to provide a little diary, photographs and videos that show natural shots... of them going to the seaside, to the park, showing lots of blue sky." The result is a delightfully fresh and original presentation that truly reflects the mood of the moment, highlighting lifestyles of real people from many diverse cultures.
Fast-forward to October... Tia Cibani Kids Spring/Summer 2021 has debuted and is being sold by Luisa Via Roma, Lane Crawford Hong Kong and Ladida among many others. We asked Tia to describe the collection and tell us how she was able to strike just the right balance of fashion, beauty and optimism during this time of such serious world-wide troubles. Tia says, “I simply followed my heart. I knew I wanted the collection to feel optimistic and hopeful and so color was a big factor. I went for big color more than ever this season! I kept the fabrics light (mostly 100% cotton fibers) and my signature print this season is called Maasai Madras as it is a sort of hand painted tartan of bold strokes that incorporates the entire collection’s palette.
The collection was shown mostly out of our own studio/show- room space in Westchester but we did have a 2 day pop up in Soho/NYC. It was so nice to do that actually, it felt good to get out of our familiar space and set up shop, sort of like going to the tradeshows but it was just us. We kept it low key, only one client at a time. I have missed NYC since the pandemic hit I had only been once to see my eye doctor so it was nice to spend a couple of days in the “greatest city on earth”. We also had plenty of FaceTime, Zoom, WhatsApp and Skype calls video calls. It has been a juggle, but we managed to wrap things up on a very positive note. Sales grew from last season by more than 100%!”
The collection itself is inspired by east African culture-- the Suri people of Ethiopia and a sort of mashup of the works of artists Simone Leigh, Aldo Lanzini, TageneKunbi and Nick Cave. Colors are fresh and bright and are paired unexpectedly. Fabrics are light in mostly 100% cotton qualities varying from paper touch poplin (a crisp poplin with a chintz effect), to a weighty cotton twill that makes great trousers and outerwear, to yarn dyed stripes and checks. Trims consisting of raffia, wood beads, waxed rope, silk flowers and ric-rac ribbons play a key role in presenting the mood and inspirational message.” This lovely line will surely bring some much needed brightness and cheer to the Spring/Summer 2021 season.
Read more exciting articles in Kids a la Mode: A Global Review of Children's Fashion and Decor - Issue #6: available November 2020