Genkstasy is a colourful fashion-forward label dedicated to non-binary streetware. We asked director Evie Willsteed some candid questions about her business.
What’s the vision behind Genkstasy?
Ultimately it’s to help create a better world; a happier, healthier future for humans, and all life on Earth. I’m working on that from my abilities and passions: creating loving spaces and validating/empowering clothing for queer and gender-diverse folk. Genkstasy is about being seen, and loved, for exactly who you are. I create clothing for diverse bodies, so all of us can feel comfy and fabulous when we’re out
What makes your garments ethically made?
I source all my fabrics with a holistic approach to sustainability as the goal. You have to think big picture, everything has pluses and minuses. So I use a range of vintage, end-of-roll, and new organic/OEKOTEX certified natural fabrics. Then, I design to reduce fabric waste, re-use or compost what cut-offs I do have, and my studio is run on 100% solar power.in the world. Gender is a spectrum, even for ‘straight/hetro’ folk, it’s liberating for all of us tolet go of those constructs and embrace broader, more playful versions of ourselves! When we truly accept ourselves, can be kind to ourselves, we can more easily accept and be kind to others too. A ripple effect, starting small, with big dreams.
How did you come up with your brand name? what’s the back story?
Well, I wanted to create a name for the label that encompassed what it was about, but could also be easily searched online (since google fails so much on searches these days!) so it couldn’t be a word that existed already. That, and I’m a language nerd, was studying Japanese at the time, and really liked their word Genki which means ‘spirit, life-force, and energy’. Part of my personal story is one of having deep grief/loss change my life – through experiencing the shifting of energy as my Mum passed from this life into the next – it moved something in me and helped me to overcome fear/anxiety/depression and start living my life more in line with it’s potential. So Genki was a reminder of that wisdom. And then I blended it with Ecstasy, which was what I wanted my life to become, and what I wanted the brand to help others feel within, and about themselves.
So in short, Genkstasy means joyful spirit. The journey from suffering to self-awakening and elation.
How did you come to work in fashion?
I was drawn to it I suppose… My Aunty was always a styler and I looked up to her when I was little, she was so loving and kind, and she had great taste. Plus, I was really fussy about textures and sensations as a child, so fabric and clothing were a big deal to me, comfort mattered. Then as a I started to experience body dysmorphia and social anxiety, so clothing was a safety net, a shield, and a way to speak something about myself when I didn’t have the words. I could dress myself to fit in, even though I didn’t feel I did, or I could dress weird to let people know what to expect, to save me having to pretend to be normal. I was super unsure of myself in my early 20s, so tried different work and creative paths, but fashion just kept calling me back.
Can you share any tricks or advice for getting into a creative mindset?
Rest and play. Whenever I hit a creative block I know it’s one of two things: I’m tired, or I’m restricting myself (either through self criticism, or allowing in societal ideas of what’s acceptable, d most, do that, then sit back at my desk, or on the floor, and see what flows.
What tools (digital or otherwise) do you use to conceptualize and design your clothing?
I’m an IRL person. I’m very tactile. So I feel fabrics and get inspired by their textures, and colours. I let them speak to me, and start to visualise what they could be. I’m also very inspired by the people I’m lucky to share this life with. So I often come up with a design thinking of a specific person, what they’d wear and how they’d like, or need, it to function. My newest piece I was thinking of Naavi Karan, her presence on stage, and at home when we share tea and stories.
have you experienced any haters along the way?
Thankfully I’ve been very lucky to meet mostly like-mindedly kind, compassionate, intelligent folks who are accepting of different viewpoints or experiences, and who know how to communicate if there are ever any disagreements. I think when people are cruel or critical, it says more about them than who they criticise, so I tend to have compassion for those people and don’t hold onto those memories longer than what it takes to process them.
what are some of the struggles you face as a developing business?
Cash flow is tough in these times, especially when making and selling consciously. And pricing things for what they’re worth given the time and materials that go into them can be hard because it often puts a garment in a price range that isn’t affordable to all the people I’d like it to be available to. It’s a work in progress that one, it’s hard to tick all boxes, all the time.
What can we expect to see from Genkstasy in the next few years?
More creativity. More colour. I’m excited to make some one-offs, big statement pieces from all the gorgeous remnants of silks, etc that are in my stash, and a ‘butch/masc’ collection – I’ve done a lot of ‘femme’ designs recently and now I’m feeling some of that yang energy is ready to make itself seen again too. Always balance. And always slow, so there’s time to do things well, and time to take it all in.