10 Polish Fashion Brands You Need to Know
They dress Justin Bieber, TV murderers and urban individualists – we present to you ten young Polish fashion designers you can’t afford to ignore.
Dream Nation (Luiza Jacob)
Before she founded Dream Nation, Luzia Jacob worked as a manager for a big clothing corporation. For a long time, she was reluctant to leave it behind, but her unexpected pregnancy finally triggered her frustration with the politics of clothing companies.
Jacob doesn't attend celebrity parties and she’s not fond of the fashion world. She started her brand with the assumption she didn’t need to seek publicity – good design would stand up for itself. She doesn't want to suck up to any celebrities. What she appreciates the most is when Dream Nation clothes are worn by girls similar to her, so-called 'urban individualists'.
Everything started with costumes and performance for Joanna Hawrot – in the beginning, she perceived clothes as only part of an artistic event, just one of the ways of conveying an aesthetic message.
Hawrot worked in artsy Kraków's bohemian circles, immersed in their taste for the retro, the gothic and the surreal. It led to her wanting fashion to be treated as contemporary art that can be placed and analysed in different contexts.
Kaaskas is a family brand by sisters Kasia and Julia Skórzyńska. Kasia always sticks to the plan and doesn't allow herself to doubt anything, while Julia is responsible for the realisation of the projects, being the negotiator and manager. The underlying philosophy of their brand is to meet with diverse people and change environments often, and to never remain in one place for too long.
The designers want their brand to be associated with art. Their first collection was inspired by the filmmaker Wong Kar-Wai, the next one by architect and modernist pioneer Adolf Loos. The autumn/winter 2015-16 collection was inspired by William Eggleston's photographs, and their summer 2015 range by Henri Matisse and Sonia Delaunay.
Julia Kaleta was in the first year of students to graduate from the Fashion Department at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. She was the youngest student there, enrolling right after high school. During the first few months, she felt she couldn’t keep up with her classmates. The breakthrough came when Monika Brodka appeared on stage in one of her dresses.
She spent a lot of time preparing her diploma. She wanted her collection to be reminiscent of the sweet aromas that inspired her choice of materials. It resulted in silk chiffons wrapped around the body like perfume, as well as colours and skin-like hues touched by perfume.
The brand Local Heroes was created just for fun, but everything changed when Justin Bieber wore their clothes. Overnight, it turned from a small, local (as the name suggests) brand into an internationally-recognised trademark. Areta Szpura and Karolina Słota were soon dubbed a 'Polish miracle export' by MTV and popular magazines.
Local Heroes don’t think of themselves as designers, preferring to say that they 'make clothes'. Maybe in a year’s time, they’ll turn their energy to something else entirely – perhaps open a shop or a café? After all, Local Heroes is a lifestyle and not a tailoring style. Their clothes are simple, almost basic: T-shirts, sweatpants, sweatshirts, beanies, backpacks, shorts, and simple dresses in the form of long T-shirts. Everything is made of cotton and polyester.
Jakub Pieczarkowski and ODIO
Jakub Pieczarkowski and Aleksandra Ozimek aka ODIO form a fashion duo which is as recognisable as it is controversial. Pieczarkowski explains that in fashion he’s fascinated by all that’s tacky, kitsch and excessive. The underlying idea is for their designs to take anyone where they want to go – the authors don’t like to explain what they mean by that though.
They decided to design three collections, each more complicated than the previous one, becoming richer in inspiration and detail, leading towards the ultimate horror vacui. Rat Salad was only the introductory stage: multiple prints on cotton, formal simplicity. Only in their next projects, the pure experimentation with fabrics truly began. It’s difficult not to think of horror vacui when looking at the autumn/winter 2015-16 collection – it seems that there’s no space left without a print, a tear or a cut.
Michał Szulc is a PhD candidate and lecturer at the Department of Fashion Design at the Academy of Fine Arts in Łódź and at the International School of Costume and Fashion Design in Warsaw. He creates his brand consistently, managing to fund it from his commercial designs. He spends a lot of time in the car and that’s where the ideas for his collections are born.
He enjoys playing with the concept of fashion. He began his designer work in 2005 with the IAPAN collection.
The young designer still can’t decide what brings her the most joy – fashion design, or costume design for theatre and film. She keeps on doing a bit of everything, hoping that she’ll manage to remain versatile.
She cannot say what’s more exciting for her – to see her designs on stage, in camera close-ups, or at a fashion show. Each time though, she’s sure that the clothes mean something more besides superficial quality.
In Wawrzyńczak's first year at the Academy of Fine Arts, fabric design was something she struggled with – she barely passed the classes. But in her second year, during a traditional craft workshop in the Suwałki region, the most north-eastern part of Poland, she discovered crocheting and weaving, igniting a new passion for creating fabric from the scratch.
For her diploma, she used four geometrical shapes (line, cross, square and circle) and a limited colour palette (black, navy blue, azure and white). As important as the fabric was the jewellery, made of modules like Lego blocks, or integrated with the fabric in simple geometrical shapes, made of acrylic glass.
In 2011, Bracka Street saw the construction of a mysterious object – two mobile office containers, upholstered with black canvas. They turned out to be a declaration about the launch of the ZUO Corp. brand, founded by stylist duo Bartek Michalec and Dagmara Rosa, aided by Łukasz Laskowski who is responsible for PR and business aspects.
Their 28 Rooms collection for autumn/winter 2011, presented at Łódź Fashion Week, entered the world of Polish fashion and created its own unique space there. Until then, avant-garde and intelligent shows had never received as much publicity.
Source: own materials, compiled by PW, translated by OK, 19 Feb 2016