Anika Ignozzi, the founder of OOH BABY, a fashion line deeply rooted in upcycling and forged in the street markets of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is unveiling her first fully manufactured-from-scratch collection, “Imagination Activation.” With unyielding determination, her goal is to make Ooh Baby By Anika a household name.
Her mission is to revolutionize the fashion industry, steering it away from mundane neutrals and into a realm of personalized expression.
Anika takes pride in presenting this vibrant ready-to-wear collection while remaining committed to the idea of “upscaling the upcycling and preserving more clothing.” Anika and her growing team currently occupy a spacious, paint-splattered studio in the Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, which, in many ways, serves as the epicenter of vintage and upcycled fashion trends on the East Coast.
“It’s important in terms of where I come from and where I’m going,” Says Anika. She is fervently dedicated to reducing harm by upcycling, using recycled materials, and less environmentally impactful production methods. As an example of this dedication, OOH BABY’s studio has recently acquired 400 pairs of pre-owned 501 Levi’s, recognizing the environmental impact of denim production. Anika and her team have transformed these jeans in the studio through printing and reworking with denim scraps. One of the designs called the Snap jeans allows customers to pick their own patches and customize their own look on the spot at the Ooh Baby shop in NYC. “Being able to customize your own upcycled jeans is a really fun and personal experience” says Anika.
The Fall collection for 2023, “Imagination Activation,” is a meticulously crafted and professionally manufactured line, with 100-250 pieces per item, thoughtfully sized. It showcases a vibrant array of ready to wear pieces, including classically cut ombre trench coats, a sheer handwritten letter top from the designer, and sherpa coats lined with Anika’s paintings., Looking ahead to the upcoming Spring collection, Ooh Baby has ambitious plans to utilize recycled fabrics, further exemplifying her commitment to sustainable fashion. “This company is my everything. I love sharing my designs with the world. I love it even more when it inspires others to express themselves and wear what makes them confident. Have fun with your style!! Everyday is your runway.”
Anika’s path was one of experimentation and self-discovery. As her passion for fashion and painting evolved, it began to intertwine with her budding interest in sewing. Her very first venture into upcycling, a piece that a close friend still cherishes, featured one of her dad’s denim button-down shirts, embellished with a hand-painted character on the pocket.
During this period, her older brother, Sal, found himself in the world of modeling, working with local and regional brands. “He introduced me to a guy who did fashion shows in Pittsburgh. He happened to have a show coming up. That was January 20th, 2018 and I was turning 20. He told me to make 12 looks. So I started working right away. Emphasis on working. I mean a lot. But that’s when OOH BABY came to life.”
Anika’s work garnered significant praise and attention. Her first collection, was been rooted in upcycling because, as she candidly noted, she lacked the financial resources and knowledge to start from scratch. Nonetheless, her commitment to the do-it-yourself upcycling mission, combined with her playful designs, infectious spunkiness, and unwavering work ethic, began to draw not only the creation of unique clothing but also a substantial following.
Local television stations took notice of her unconventional street activations, where she enlisted her friends as models to showcase her early upcycled designs in the vibrant atmosphere of the Strip District in Downtown Pittsburgh. This neighborhood, known for its progressive vendor-driven street market, served as the launchpad for Ooh Baby. Initially, Anika operated a highly DIY pop-up shop in a garage-like setting for three years, allowing her to open up a storefront in pittsburgh for a solid year, and then moved to NYC to open her own OOH BABY storefront with the help of a nonprofit called ChaShaMa in the West Village at 21 Greenwich Ave.
The impact of her work even caught the attention of the Andy Warhol Museum, which reached out for an interview.“I’ll never forget, that first day I opened up my Pittsburgh storefront it had a line waiting around the block,” Anika recalls. “Because of the amazing community, I really thrived there which gave me the confidence to keep on going.
Ooh Baby’s mission extends beyond scaling upcycling. An equally vibrant and diverse line, brimming with distinctive, colorful pieces, has emerged. Anika is inspired by the New York city streets. The concept of the collection stems from Anika’s artwork. Imagination Activation began from photographs of Brooklyn streets that she painted on. This process creates the colorways and words incorporated into the clothing. You can even see two of the paintings as the lining of the sherpa coats. This collection is thoughtfully designed with unisex options, ensuring that everyone can discover an item that resonates with their personal style. It’s all about bringing a playfulness and expression to your everyday look.
In Anika’s world, Ooh Baby isn’t merely a clothing brand; it’s a canvas for self-discovery and personal style, with sustainability as its cornerstone. She envisions a community where each unique piece sparks interactions and positive conversations, kindling inspiration in everyday encounters. As a customer of Ooh Baby, you become a catalyst, inspiring others to elevate their own style.
Anika’s passion isn’t solely about selling clothing; it’s about curating a transformative experience, a sanctuary for self-expression, all while championing sustainability. Her objective is to reshape the fashion industry, one distinctive, upcycled, or meticulously manufactured piece at a time. With her unwavering spirit and unshakable determination, Anika is on the precipice of transforming this vision into a resounding reality.
“The reason I create and upcycle such wild and colorful stuff is because I don’t see it in daily life,” she adds. “I’m tired of the same old boring stuff. It doesn’t represent who anybody is. I want to bring my weird universe into reality.”