VERONIKA KOCARIKOVA, A Designer Embracing Slovakian HeritageFashion
A Designer Embracing Slovakian Heritage
Veronika Kocarikova is a Slovakian Designer embracing sustainable fashion through her cultural heritage and personal experiences. By creating modern designs that are personal to her, she has landed with a collection featuring family history with threads of emotional design. Slovakia, one of the many countries encompassed by Europe, is home to traditional wear embodying a premise of folklore inspiration and embellished tactile experiences.
Through her collection Almara, which is a Slovakian word describing wardrobes used to store folklore costumes, Veronika takes you on an artistic journey to the past, with a twist of modern day. Showcased during Designer Nest Fashion Show 2017 at Copenhagen Fashion Week, Almara has made way for a revolution of designs featuring pops of color and tactile fabrics. With sustainability at heart, Veronika has set out to create a collection displaying organic materials and themes that are true to her past.
With the fashion industry constantly on a venture to find the latest trends, it is refreshing to instead look back in the past to find beauty for the now! Almara has set a new tone for sustainable design, that not only focuses on high quality, but also cultural inspiration that is true to the designer. With such an interesting take on sustainability, I have had the pleasure to sit down with Veronika and learn further about the inspiring work that went into creating Almara!
What is your design aesthetic and reason for a sustainable focus?
I centre my designs around the idea of return to times of ethical, honest and well-made clothing that is meant to last. My design strategy is built upon creating products that are made with high quality, leaving the people and planet with lasting sustainable profit. I communicate all these values through the process of prolonged production, with a strong focus in attention. I want to encourage the consumer to think of their garments as a lifetime investments, rather than a momentary satisfaction.
Sculptural, monastic and peculiar are three cornerstones of my design aesthetic. I seek balance between volume, shape and weight of the fabric. Drapery has been continuously my starting point for the design process and It is essential for me to form a relationship between the wearer and the garment.
In regards to Slovakian Heritage, I believe it is the quality of the product and the attention to detail they create that I have chosen to embrace. Apart from the inspiration of the traditional garment construction, my main takeaway is the ability to merge eastern and western design aesthetic. I am designing to create a subtle balance between modern shapes, abstract folklore references, historical practices and quality of crafts finalizing in a high quality design.
What is your design process like for your collection Almara?
A starting point for me was the combination of research and inspiration. I did a lot of research into folklore artisan inspiration and based my starting point from personal experience, by focusing on heritage inspiration I found in a family album. All of the historical photographs and clothing I saw I drew inspiration so I could create garments which were connected to my own personal life and family. In regards to materials, a strong focus was placed on natural materials embraced in the past, such as cotton, linen and hemp. I wanted my collection to be raw and natural, combining past Slovakian heritage, family history and modern appeal. I believe that if I have a personal connection to the garments, I will be able to create the same for my wearers. To start the collection process draping, sketching and material experimentation is my favorite path to take.
Why do you think heritage, craft and tradition is important to embrace?
Keeping heritage alive is necessary for cultivating cultures, since it is what makes us who we are. It shapes our personality and allows us to be authentic. Growing up in a region with a lot of folklore craftsmanship, I have a deep respect for people developing craft and design with their hands. My goal is to to mimic a sense of community and well-doing through my designs, encouraging the wearer to acknowledge the process behind each garment, cherish and embrace its flaws. I believe that the movement of ‘hand’ and its work cannot be replaced by a machine. The soul of the product is given through the ‘hand-work’ and the time spent with it. Slovakian design techniques embrace these values as well and put forth an ambition of quality over quantity.
What Sustainable materials and craft techniques did you use for your collection Almara?
The materials I used were sourced in Europe supplied by smaller factories, in support of local businesses and economy. The origin of all the materials are either organic or from a process of naturally-recycled. I mainly used linen, cotton and wool. Organic natural materials, are most pleasant to the body and easy to recycle or degrade. To avoid the harm and excess water use from chemical dyes, I use materials which were vegetable, indigo or dry-dyed.
Overall I love to embrace all crafting techniques. Actively, I use pleating, embroidery and tactile development. In the future I would like to add frame cross-linking and felt weaving as well!
Are there other sustainable methods you want to start implementing?
I would like to implement holistic approaches from the theory of ‘Spiritual by Design’ introduced by Walker. I am interested in re-evaluating the issues of traditional business strategies and embracing a positive impact on the planet. I am focused on creating spiritual enlightenment for the wearer and influencing them towards more ethical consumption. I want to work closely with artisans, craftsmen and other design visionaries to explore the possibilities of cross disciplinary collaborations, by adding a spiritual value to the designs I create.
Sustainability means embracing responsibility, not compromising on materials and creating fair production. It is crucial to design garments that will be appealing for generations to come and last. Quality garments embrace capability to withstand long-lasting change, instead of a going down the path of seasonal trends.