Meet Anna Pang, the founder and designer behind womenswear label Index Series
. Before launching Index Series in 2014, Anna worked for many notable names in fashion such as Prabal Gurung, Zac Posen and The Row. Eventually, she launched Index Series and centered the brand around relaxed silhouettes, quality fabrics and elevated designs. Each piece Anna produces is mindfully designed to seamlessly layer together or be worn effortlessly on their own. Essentially, Index Series is about redefining and simplifying the wardrobe for the modern-day woman. In this interview, we wanted to dive deep into the heart of Index Series and learn about Anna's definition of sustainability, what lessons she has learned since launching her brand, and why she chooses to create her knits in China.
Who is Anna Pang?
I'm a first generation Canadian, born and raised in Toronto by hard working Chinese immigrant parents. I moved to New York in 2011 to study fashion design at Parsons and despite the love/hate relationship I have (as do many) with the city, it has become to feel like my home.
Can you tell us about Index Series’ beginnings and how it has since transformed into the brand it is today?
I started Index Series as my own creative outlet. Working in fashion and living in a small apartment in New York, I grew tired of excess things that consumed space including clothing. Index Series became a desire to find a meaningful approach to dressing, narrowing down on versatile pieces that pair seamlessly with each other and our evolving wardrobe in the years to come.
What does sustainability mean to you and how do you incorporate it in your work with Index Series?
Sustainability for me is to consume consciously and to be intentional in the decisions that we make. With Index Series, I consider the lifespan of a design. It doesn’t have to be a basic piece but 2, 5, or 10 years from now it should still feel timeless, special, and versatile with our evolving style.
What are some of the greatest lessons you have learned since starting your brand?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is to accept something that doesn’t seem to work anymore, whether that’s a design, a practice, or a business structure. I’ve stopped following the traditional fashion calendar producing 2 big collections a year. It always felt forced and wasteful and no longer relevant. Making that transition and embracing that change has been liberating and it has allowed me to develop a more meaningful way of designing.
Can you tell us about the first garment you’ve ever designed and created?
The first garment I ever designed and created was a cocktail dress for my friend’s wedding in 2012. I was still in school at the time.
What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
I don’t really have a typical work day as it depends on what comes up that day but in the mornings, I like to ease into my work so I like to check my emails while having my breakfast. Some days I can spend all day in the studio sketching, working on tech packs, researching, or planning production. Other days I can be out in the garment district sourcing fabrics, visiting my factory, attending meetings/fittings, or shooting content for social media.
As a designer in a world dominated by fast fashion, there’s a sense that you need to be in a constant state of production. How do you keep yourself grounded amidst all this and prevent yourself from burning out?
It’s hard not to be exhausted by the fashion industry with these immediate demands and the need to react to them right away. I remind myself not to compare myself to others because ultimately we have different customers with different goals.
Where are your favourite places to shop and eat in New York?
New York always has new and trendy restaurants popping up but my absolute favourites are the small neighbourhood spots tucked away at a corner or on a small street. 88 Lan Zhou has the best dumplings (unfortunately the pandemic has affected them), Simple for Poké bowls, Super Taste for their baos, Kiki's, and my new favorite is ACRE in Greenpoint. In terms of stores Tokio7, Assembly New York, Coming Soon, and Homecoming.
What are life’s small pleasures for you right now?
My cat, he offers the best cuddles and reminds me to focus on the present.
What kind of silhouettes are you drawn to when designing pieces for Index Series?
I'm always drawn to oversized silhouettes but since I've started designing more knits, I love combining both oversized and fitted silhouettes together.
Can you describe your ideal weekend?
I don’t have an absolute ideal for how to spend a weekend as long as it’s balanced with both activities like seeing friends, visiting a museum, walking around the city and having time for myself to just relax at home.
In the near future, what are you looking forward to most?
I look forward to creating more opportunities to meet my online community whether that’s pop-ups or hosting events.
What aspects of designing clothing do you love the most? What about dislike?
I love seeing my designs on customers and their excitement when they put it on. It reminds me why I want to create in the first place. What I dislike the most is figuring out production and not overproducing.
There’s a lot of negative sentiment surrounding the “Made In China” label and we’re always trying to dispel the myth that “Made In Canada” or “Made In America” is always better than “Made In China” or “Made In Bangladesh”, etc. Can you tell us a bit about the knitwear factory you work with in China and what drew you to them in the first place?
The knit factory that we use is a Chinese family-owned factory established in 1979. Their HQ is in Hong Kong with a factory in Dongguan China. I was drawn to them in the first place because of their high quality craftsmanship combined with their commitment to sustainable practices. Our knit factory is approved by GRS, GOTS, SMETA and BSCI who produce premium sustainability knitwear with a traceable record.
Something that recently challenged you?
Social media. Trying to figure out how to balance the growing demands of social media with everything else that’s on my plate.
Who, what or where are some of the influences you draw on in your designs?
Inspiration for me can come from anywhere, anyone, and at any time. It can be an image I came across, a film, a vintage garment, an artist, or a fabric I fell in love with. However I do often find myself in a particular mood or longing for something and that can be a starting point for researching inspiration.
What do you imagine the future of fashion to look like?
I imagine the future of fashion to be completely free from the traditional framework. Runway shows have such a big carbon footprint; they no longer serve a beneficial purpose. Perhaps it evolves into a digital format but regardless all brands will have to adapt to the industry’s new rules and standards that include not just sustainable practices but also gender, race, and body inclusivity.
What is the legacy you hope to leave on this world? What are you out to accomplish?
I hope to create cherished pieces that will be passed down, connecting generations with a story to tell. Some of my favourite items are my mom’s so I hope that my pieces will be that special vintage piece for someone in the future.