Flannels blog article

The thin knit dresses you’ve seen all over your Instagram feed? It’s quite likely they’re the work of Roberta Einer. The London-based designer knows a thing or two about creating fun, sexy, powerful pieces that women really want to wear. Think playful mixtures of texture, colours and layers. Big, bright, bold fashion that’s an instant mood.

Seen on the likes of Jorja Smith, Gabrielle Union and Nia Archives, one the faces of our Spring 22: with FLANNNELS campaign, this is feel-good, girl-power dressing at its finest. With Einer serving up joy-filled glamour in the form of spliced knit dresses, crocheted shorts and sheer fabrics.

To celebrate International Women’s Day, the founder and creative director sat down with us to talk the women that inspire her, her journey with fashion and where that love of fashion started. It’s time to get to know Roberta Einer…

Flannels blog article
Flannels blog article

How would you describe the Roberta Einer woman?

It’s changed a lot with me getting older and becoming more confident in who I am as a woman. It’s for more confident women, it doesn’t have to be loud - the beauty comes out in the details. I think over the years, our clothes have become more see-through, more colourful; the cuts have become bolder. I think that’s quite a lot to do with me growing up.

What’s been the most important thing to you when designing for women?

You have to feel great in the clothes. It’s about making clothes that are inclusive for different body shapes and make women, in different body shapes, feel really great and feminine and strong.


Your grandmother was such a huge inspiration for you. How has this fed into your work?

She’s still very close to me, she’s 94, I spend a lot of time with her. For her to be looking at my clothes today, it’s so different from what you would think somebody who was 94 would really understand. And she loves it. She understands it, she questions it, in design but also, what femininity is. In terms of everything we do - the knit, the embroidery, the crochet - that skill came directly from her. Just spending a lot of time in my childhood with her, learning how to crochet, the knits and embroidery and draw, with her and from her. But also, hearing the stories of her life. She’s a Georgian-Ukrainian woman who was transported to Estonia to work in the factories there and lived an incredible life. She raised children and divorced her husband, in the 50s, which was like a thing you couldn’t, shouldn’t be doing. [Then] you were supposed to suffer a horrible marriage instead of divorcing. And these stories, being so ahead of your time and choosing your own happiness and raising women - my mum and my aunt and then me and my sister - for me, that’s what’s really inspiring and something that I want to keep with me everyday and show it in my work, every way that I can.

That’s so incredible. You even designed a collection inspired by her…

It felt like the most natural thing to do. It came from looking through her love letters, postcards, photos, hearing stories and looking through her wardrobe. I think for her it meant a lot. For me, I’ll take another excuse of keeping the memory of her alive while she’s still here.


What else inspires you?

It comes with different things, in terms of the colours, and silhouettes. Through the year I take photos of colour combinations that you see on the street, in art or in food. I collect these snaps and come back to them when we’re designing. In terms of the theme, silhouettes, or textures, I get inspiration when I travel. After every season I take time off, just to do stuff which isn’t fashion related. I’ll surf, I’ll go study pottery or weave. Things that give more value to your life. If you’re always in a big city, we’re all looking on the same things and referencing the same stuff. So, to do something different, I need to remove myself from the environment here.

What’s the hardest thing about starting a new collection?

It’s the same feeling as, you know when you have a new notebook? And you’re scared to fill in the first page but then it gets easier? This is the same. Sometimes if I find it hard to, set the colour theme or the materials or the fabrics, I start thinking, ‘okay what are the elements that I feel okay about’. We start working from the elements I’m sure about and then we come back to it. If you feel stuck, just start from the things that you feel confident about, or what excites you, from the beginning.

You use an incredible range of techniques, from embroidery to tailoring. Why is this so important to you?

It’s one thing I promised myself. In the beginning, I did a few seasons where we were repeating techniques and ideas and I found myself quite bored. I felt like, I’m so lucky to have my own label and [be] deciding what I want to work on. The least I can do is to choose to work in a way that I’m excited about. For me, it is a mission if you are doing high-end fashion. That’s what makes high-street and high-end, separate. It’s about not going the easiest way, but the one that makes garments have a soul rather than just being something you wear.

You designed your first collection when you were 12 years old. What was it that drew you to fashion?

(Laughing), I wouldn’t call it a collection. I asked for a sewing machine when I was ten years old. There were fashion competitions in my school, I couldn’t sew, and I was too young to take part. I bought loads of second-hand clothes, cut the sleeves off, made a skirt, just adjusted all of them. And then, I took part in all of the school competitions and drew loads of fashion sketches. It was the only thing that interested me. Which was quite boring for my parents because they were like, ‘this can’t be a career or a school choice’. Then when I was 14, I decided I really wanted to go to Central Saint Martins. That was the only thing that I wanted to do.

Flannels blog article
Flannels blog article

What does fashion mean to you?

It’s a complicated balance. It’s the only thing I can do, the only thing I’ve been able to master or that I have an interest in. But I remind myself often, these are just clothes, it’s not like you’re curing cancer or changing the world.

You grew up in Estonia when it was part of the Soviet Union. How has this shaped your approach to design?

Maybe that was the reason I was into fashion and coming to school abroad and wanting to be part of everything and that felt so far away. With clothes, I loved that feeling of getting something and feeling happy about it. That made me appreciate clothes and fashion. I think [now], the way we’re making things… I like things being out of stock. I like that some pieces, they’re made to order. I love receiving messages where people are like, I’ve received my first salary and I’m spending it on your dress. I recognise that feeling from these women. It makes me want to create pieces that are so badly wanted and then once they’re received, they’re so, appreciated. They hold an emotional memory rather than just being a piece of clothing. I just like to create the same craving I had, that made me love and appreciate fashion so much.

During your studies you interned with Alexander McQueen before moving to Paris to assist at Balmain. How did this influence you?

My internships made me who I am. From every designer, I took everything up as a sponge. I was trying to be a minimal designer. Then I went to Pairs with Balmain and that went all out the window. Every sparkle, every texture, everything we were scared to do in London, they were doing it times ten. It made me so much braver as a designer.

When you were 24 years old you bypassed the British Fashion Council’s rule that requires designers to be in business for three years before consideration to make the official LFW list. What was it like to break into the industry when you were in your early 20s?

It was weird because it was a lot of nos before you got the yes. And when you got a yes, it wasn’t even that insanely exciting because it felt like I had worked so long on this, it felt like I really deserved it. That mostly came from having amazing support on social media. There are so many ways to do fashion, you just have to find your own thing that is right for you.


What does maximalist fashion mean to you?

A lot of people get it [maximalism] confused with kitsch. Maximalism is brave and bold. It’s the feeling that it embodies for someone who wears it. But kitsch is also colourful and bold, and this and that. It’s a thin but important line which comes down to how the customer is wearing it and how it feels. For me, maximalism means 90% what kitsch means but without feeling cheap and commercialised.

Women have often been told to be seen and not heard… how do you feel maximalism helps empower women?

The women who wear our clothes, they wear it for themselves, not for someone else. They don’t put a dress on to be seen or for someone’s attention, they’re the women who don’t need that, because they have it all inside them anyway. They wear a dress because they feel good in it and they want it for themselves rather than anyone else.

Your designs are the ultimate fun party pieces. What attracts you to designing in this way?

Luxury fashion is about creating a dream. What makes me happy is seeing women put dresses on and see their faces literally light up or see the way they carry themselves change because of their new-found confidence. That is part of why we want to do womenswear. We want to make it fun, bold, and dreamy.

Your designs have been worn by some incredible women, from Jorja Smith and Gabrielle Union to appearing on Issa Rae’s HBO show, Insecure. What does this mean to you?

I find myself questioning that a lot. I’m not one of those people who have celebrity goals. For me, it’s humbling looking at these women. They’re just like us. A girl can go and graduate in school buy that dress and she loves it. And Gabrielle Union she loves it as well. We’ve done so many things for Jorja, she’s just one of the most humble and amazing people. It makes me feel like we’re all the same. It makes me feel like I’m doing the right thing for everyone.