Bangs Meets Biko
As I prepped for my trip to Toronto, I put word out that I wanted to meet the movers and shakers of the city; the designers, bloggers and generally cool creatives who make the city tick. Time and again, the name Biko came up. I did a little research, discovered it was a jewellery label and I instantly said a little prayer for my bank balance as I rapidly fell in love with damn near everything in the collection. I made a point to meet up with the designer Corrine Anestopoulos while in town to hear the story behind Biko and her plans for world domination.
How did you start Biko and why is it called that?
Biko was my nickname as a little girl. My parents and cousins called me Biko up until around the age of 10!
I started making jewellery at the age of 21 while studying Image Arts – The New Media at Ryerson University. I had no idea that jewellery-making was my calling, but I quickly became obsessed with it. Biko became my part-time job until I graduated school in 2005, when I took it full-time. I don’t think I was too interested in jewellery as a little girl, but my mom loves to tell the story of me as a 5 year old on the subway with her one day. Apparently I pointed at this lady sitting next to me and yelled very loudly, “Mommy, I don’t like this lady’s necklace!” My mom seems to think that was the day I began to notice and appreciate (or pick apart) jewellery.
How would you describe the style of Biko?
Biko’s style is cool, effortless and edgy. The mix of old and new in the line has been coined by me as ‘Modern Nostalgia’, which is the feeling I like to keep in mind when designing. Always a nod to the past, but with a modern sensibility. I would say the collection has got quite a range of pieces, and thus any woman can find the right Biko piece to accentuate her personal style. I would say the typical Biko woman is fashionable, but not a slave to fashion. She’s confident and put-together, with a bit of a wild side.
How would you describe Canadian style?
Canadian style is known to be a bit blah in general. As for street style, I would definitely suggest that Toronto is the most fashionable city in the country, and I am personally quite inspired by street style here (and in several other cities, especially European cities). With regards to designers, I feel there is a lot of talent, but Canadian fashion isn’t taken very seriously on the world stage.
What inspires you about Toronto?
Living in Toronto has never been better. I went through a dull and bored spell here a couple of years back, but this past year has been full of great opportunities and positive vibes. I would have to say what inspires me most here are my friends and the communities within neighbourhoods. I live in Little Italy, which feels very European and is super busy with lots going on all the time. However, from my bedroom window I hear nothing but trees waving in the breeze and birds chirping each morning. It’s a real neighbourhood with a great community, right downtown. Even better is that my friends are all a short bike ride away. Most of the year we all ride our bikes between neighbourhoods in the west end to get to local restaurants, bars, and each others’ houses. I love it.
What are your favourite areas of the city?
My favourite area to hang recently in the city is Dundas West, west of Ossington. Several friends of mine either own or work at bars and restaurants along that strip, so it’s always a great night out. I also love Trinity Bellwoods Park and the Toronto Island on sunny days. My favourite shop in the city is Bicyclette Boutique, owned by my friend Paige. Its very well curated with something new and excited waiting for me every time! I also love Love of Mine, which I find to be the most perfect accessories store ever! Go – you can thank me later! Oh, and both these shops stock Biko as well!
What inspires you design wise?
Design-wise, I’m inspired by a mix of street style and high-end style. I’m also in love with old photographs, modern-industrial furniture design & lighting, and quirky collectables. One of my favourite inspirations are a series of original photographs from the Barnum & Bailey Circus in the 1950s. I bought them on eBay and they hang on the huge inspiration wall in my studio.
What’s the future for Biko?
The future for Biko is so bright! We’ve come very far in the last year with a full re-brand and launch of the new website (www.ilovebiko.com) and I’m excited to be soon expanding to the US market via new Biko sales representation in NYC. We are just at the beginning of working with local production help, which will make growth all the more possible. The goal is to plow through these growing pains and eventually establish Biko as a world-wide indie jewellery brand.
To check out Biko’s cool jewellery stylings, have a gander at their website www.ilovebiko.com