Athenian leather has a reputation all its own, and Ippolito pieces convey an easy elegance that is quintessentially Athenian. After, years of study in London, Milan and New York City combine the company was born in Athens where it is part of a renaissance in the city’s design community.
Much more than a handbag line, Ippolito designs functional items whose aesthetic appeals to women, men and everyone in between. Born in 2009, Ippolito was founded by Pavlina Papailiopoulou, a graduate of Istituto Marangoni and the University of Reading. Influenced by her studies abroad, Athenian culture and the globalizing forces of the post-internet-culture we now live in, the line defies any tropes and expectations. Handmade in the heart of Athens, the quality is striking. A visit to the showroom leads to leather wafting through the senses, the olfactory equivalent of visiting a bakery in the morning – but for leather. (Be careful, this may lead to over indulgence :))
Read on to discover more about the history and process behind Ippolito’s bags and leather goods, as well as founder Papailiopoulou’s thoughts on design in Athens in 2017.
You’ve lived and studied in London, Milan, and NYC, but chose Athens to base your company Ippolito. Tell me a bit about why you chose Athens as opposed to a city with a bigger reputation for fashion?
Athens is my home, it is as simple as that. The purpose was always to come back even though the thought of living abroad excites me at any given moment. To be completely honest I don’t work in the fashion industry for the reputation, it is all about creating beauty and that, one can do where one feels inspired. Athens is a highly inspiring city full of raw contradictions, and this what I love most about it, it’s kinda decadent, real, an honest city. Now the internet is there to make us all global I believe, so where you stand as long as you create with your heart, makes no difference.
I love that the brand is diverse: you carry items specifically for men, have a maternity line, and often communicate an androgynous aesthetic. What inspired this choice?
About the men’s collection, I have to give it to my very close friend Greg Haji Joannides, a super talented visual artist, who insisted on working with Ippolito and me in order to create men’s bags, I suppose he wanted one for himself to begin with! The maternity line was inspired by the baby boom frenzy in my environment, my friends pop babies one after the other and where will they put all these baby stuff with grace? I had to take care of that.. The Ippolito Maternity line is dedicated to them, these young stylish new mommies, who will carry their maternity bags even after the baby is a child.
Tell me a bit about fashion in Athens – has it changed dramatically in the last 10 years?
It has! I am very happy to say so. We have a wave of young designers who create beautiful collections and then we also have the audience to support this. The idea that ‘what comes from abroad is better than the local’ has changed.
Who are your greatest living inspirations – fashion wise?
I love looking through street photography & everyday people that pass by me.
Your designs are equal parts classic and fashion forward (the May backpack comes to mind), do you see yourself playing more to fashion or form and function?
I am definitely more into functional yet stylish design. There needs to be a reason why one chooses an Ippolito piece and that would not be the trend, it would be the recognition of a timeless versatile design.
All of your bags are handmade in the heart of Athens. Do you think enough Greek designers create in Athens?
I think so yes, there are plenty of us as far as I know.
There seems to be a renaissance of design in Athens that often goes overlooked because people are so wrapped up in the narrative of the crisis. Do you ever find there to be friction around your industry due to the fact that so many people are struggling? To me, more people should create, even with what little they have, and try to draw customers from elsewhere + exploit Greece’s incredible tourism industry
The crisis has an impact on every field and believe when I say we all struggle in Greece financially because we learned differently. In my perception, the clue is to see it as a challenge and not a battle… if we make this through what can stop us?
Challenges are creative, battles are exhausting, it’s a state of mind and a point of view really.
Do you think it’s important for Greek artists – whether in Greece or not – to identify with their Hellenism? Why or why not?
Well, being from wherever in the world identifies you as a fact itself and an artist should be free to express whatever he/she feels the need to. Not that tradition and culture are not important, but because creating is a personal thing, an artist should identify with his/her heart, mind & soul. And if that consists of where they came from that’s great, if not, that’s great too, as long as it is true.
Visit Ippolito’s breezy, beautiful showroom in Athens at 38 Voulis Str., Syntagma, Athens, 105 57, Greece.
And visit/shop online at www.ippolito.gr