I recently spent the afternoon strolling along the Former French Concession, buying flowers, cooling down with ice cream, and chatting about the future with my friend Annie. A modern nomad with a sense of self and style, that’s Annie- a woman on the go who does not compromise comfort for style. She has spent over 18 years living as an expat in Shanghai and is a lover of astrology, fashion design, travel, and nature.
It has been a rough past two months in Shanghai, but Annie has continued to radiate her positive energy and outlook on life…
Name: Annie Oksness
Current City: Shanghai, China
Occupation: H&M Ladies Concept Designer
How would you describe your style?
Usually a bit androgynous with an emphasis on structure, but every once in a while the girlie version of me makes an appearance.
Have your cultural roots and upbringing influenced your style?
My grandmother was a dressmaker/tailor and made all of her clothing. I loved how perfectly all of her clothes fit her and how she carried herself. It gave me an appreciation for shapes and silhouettes in clothing and also a form of self-expression.
What do you like most about our garments?
There is an ease to BagLady that I appreciate. It’s a happy marriage of structured materials and clean lines in accessible designs. I love the mix of silhouette and accessibility.
You have been living in Shanghai for over 18 years, what has your experience been like over these years? How has Shanghai as a city evolved?
Well, it’s an interesting time to actually do these reflections on Shanghai. This year with the lockdown and what Shanghai has become is nothing I recognize. There used to be a freedom and a feeling that anything was possible for so many years, allowing me the lifestyle that I absolutely adored including travel, culture, cuisine in and out of China, all over Asia and so many different experiences daily. I loved that life used to be so unpredictable and there was an excitement about the unknown.
Any advice on finding true connections with people and lasting friendships in a foreign country?
I don’t really have advice on finding connections but I can safely say, you should value the ones that count. I have friends I met in shanghai 18 years ago and they are still a very big part of my life today. I realize these people are hard to find, so when they do come around, I’ll be holding on to them.
When did you realise that you wanted to pursue a career in fashion, and how did you get to where you are now?
I knew quite early, I believe I started taking private pattern drafting and sewing classes around the age of 14. As I said, I had a grandmother that loved making clothing, and being around this was always exciting. I also was very drawn to all forms of art, so this was just another outlet.
Have you ever had to make any hard sacrifices to pursue your dreams/career?
The biggest sacrifice I’ve made is to be so far away from my family and loved ones for so many years. I can say, it never gets easier.
What do you enjoy most about your current life and what makes you feel the most alive?
I’ve actually gravitated back to a more simplistic version of life. Lockdown became a lot of alone time and all I ever craved was nature, walks, and conversations with friends face to face. So now with more freedom, I’m taking more advantage of outdoor time with my pup and friends.
Do you have any daily rituals that help you stay grounded?
Part of my growth has been to check in with myself more. This includes meditation and yoga. It’s not a daily practice but it’s a regular thing to turn to during the week. The breathing, the reflections, the silence, the self-awareness are always needed with the constant unknown and chaos around us these days.
How do you show kindness towards yourself?
I like to pamper myself not with items but more with treatments like massages, healing sessions, and acupuncture, things that are lovely to receive but also have a positive outcome.
Describe your life 10 years ago in three words.
Social, Movement, Variety
If you hadn’t a career in fashion, what other career would have pursued?
Farming. Hahahaaha. Maybe that’s just where my mind is right now, but man, living off of what you grow and in a natural environment sounds amazing right now.
What are your passions and are there any personal projects that you are working on?
My passions are creative expressions in all forms typically working with my hands. This can range from metal/welding jewelry to working with different forms of healing including Reiki and crystal healing, and lately I’ve been drawn to the idea of getting back to basics and understanding more about farming and growing things. I’m guessing this is due to finally making my way back to my Minnesota roots this summer!
Wishing Annie a safe and fun Minnesota Summer!
Thanks for hanging with us during this read!
Until Next Time,