Anja Wakeham is a designer, tailor, and all around sewing machine. She is also my mother’s cousin. On a family trip to Germany in June, I saw (for the first time since I was 14) just how hard Anja works. Though she and her husband, Dave, took some time out of their busy work days to make us breakfast and show us around Hamburg, where they live, Anja was constantly working. From restaurant uniforms to wedding gowns to her own line of organic clothing, Anja sews it all. Luckily, I had time to hang out in Anja’s home studio and hear a little about what she does.
How did you dress as a teenager, and how has your style changed since then?
As a teenager I was a punk. When I was 15 I went to London to learn more English. When I came back after three weeks I wore my new black and white checked trousers that I bought on Carnaby Street and my hair was red. My mother’s first question was: “Does that wash out?” My style is still a bit rock ‘n’ roll, but more stylish. When I started to study fashion design, the biker style was very trendy and I made a lot of stuff out of black leather and studs for myself. That was in 1989.
How old were you when you first started sewing? Why did you start?
I was 18 when I first started sewing. I still went to school and I made trousers without a zipper, because I couldn’t do difficult things like that. I just sewed loops on them for a belt and the belt would hold them up. Some people even asked me where I got the trousers from. I always knew exacty what I wanted and so I thought it was better to be able to make it myself. It happens to me all the time with other things, like shoes, that I want something that I can’t find in a shop. Sometimes it’s in the shops a year later!