In Conversation with Julia Kaja Hrovat
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I'm a Fashion Designer based in Slovenia, Ljubljana. But though I have been raised in Slovenia basically Ii was born in Toronto, Canada. Then soon after my birthday, I and my mom moved to Slovenia. I grew up here but was raised with the different mentality than all my other friends let's say the same age and I think this triggers also questioning because I got the values of North American education but lived in Slovenia, so I got both. I think I'm very lucky to have this, the sense of my Slovenian identity has been interesting to me because my grandparents were immigrants and they moved to Canada and they have never forgotten where they came from. They always also to their children passed on like Preseren mission and what not about Slovenia. they also visited Slovenia and for example for my grandfather can never move back here but he likes visiting Slovenia and he was just in love with the country and I think there is a little bit of this also in me.
Which past experiences would you say have shaped your work, design sensibilities, & aesthetic?
Well, first of all this double culture education and childhood and then also I think all the cultural events and travelling I did with my mom. We have been a family that involves cultural events and theatres and things like that. I also did a lot of travelling as a child which sometimes was boring but in the end now I see it was actually amazing and remembering all this, it’s a great thing I think. and then all my abroad experiences for sure I did one year of school in Istanbul at Art Academy and it gave me really good knowledge and understanding of different cultures and then also like the question of who am I as a designer and how can I give a message out to the world. But that's basically when I start, you know, identity, all the other like I did an internship in Antwerp in Stockholm so I spend a lot of time abroad which gave me a lot of information so yes I think I learned a lot.
What is your personal philosophy in life?
Well for sure I think that the most important thing is to be happy to do what you love and turn into a small moment in life to be conscious of a time you feeling happy or a tie you are doing good. It makes life so much easier when there comes a time when not everything is perfect so I think that should keep you going on like the memories of great times and intertwining what you do like for me it's never difficult to come and work because I do this with so much of love and passion that it can't make me grumpy or even if I'm sad then I come to my atelier it just makes everything so much better.
What's your personal style?
My personal style I think is an eclectic mix of vintage and modern. I love vintage clothes, they have certain power when I wear them I think but it's not like I walk around like a person from the 50's I just make a few pieces of vintage and mix them together with basically my own designs mostly. Red lipstick is a must and I can't leave the house without earrings.
What inspires your work?
Well, Culture, history, vintage and basically the question of identity I would say.
What is your vision for your work?
I would like to spread the story of Slovenia, about its history, culture, and heritage. It is such a small country that half of the world probably doesn't even know it exists. It's a very beautiful country and the nature is astonishing. The history is rich and powerful even though it has been its own country for only twenty-eight years. But still in the past as a nation Slovenia in world is always a nation and no matter what was the country they lived in, they still nurtured this nation. I think the culture has a big role in creating the identity of this nation and there are so many symbols that not even the Slovenes are aware of. I would like to spread the word around because I just find it so amazing.
Who are your favourite artists?
Well, this is very hard to say. I think I don't have favourites, it changes for example with fashion designers from year to year or from season to season. There is a great Slovene art group which is called NSK and they work in different fields. So you should definitely check them out because they have a really interesting story and the work they do is also amazing.
Your favourite activity that motivates & inspires you?
Okay, this might sound childish but for a book I would say 'The Little Princess' is just amazing, I love the character. For films I couldn’t decide on what I like in films, I watch a lot of them. Music I would say my old-time favoUrite Red-Hot-Chili-Peppers, like they never die. My favourite travel destination - I would go back to Istanbul anytime and then I also have my own travel wish list. I have Morocco and Alaska that's what I would to say.
Can you tell us more about your brand?
So the concept as I already mentioned is a concept of identity. Every time I discover a new story or symbol that inspires me, I dig deeper and deeper and it gets more interesting. So it just drags me into the concept. A concept I think by creating a collection is a very important thing you basically can tell the stories through modern clothing. Sustainability definitely has a big part. I try to do most of the things local, a lot of the things I still do by myself or find small companies basically mainly in Slovenia. I also sometimes use vintage fabric or hand woven or table cloth from the serving area and then I incorporate this into my clothing which makes the pieces very limited of course, but that's also a nice quality to have. So as a woman's aware of brands, I do think a lot of the different women, shapes, sizes and everything and I'm trying actually to create like pieces of clothing that, could be worn to different occasions so you don't need to have an evening gown. You can just style it with something else. Or like from the tonight clothing. also I keep in mind that, like for example, what is, what is something every woman should own in her wardrobe and then like try to make the basic pieces, my own and also create basic pieces for my brand, as well as like a pieces that are not so basic but can be worn with basic, basic items so that you don't need to be head to toe in like one designer, but you can mix with other small local brands.
For example, yeah. And then, I don’t know, the aesthetic of the brand would be, again on the eclectic mix as if my own styles, so a mix of, something with the like a, a glance of old or let's say history and then modern or ethnic, and then a little bit of boho and sometimes a little bit of glam. So that's why I also, I think because also my customers are very different women from different areas, from different countries. So with a different background. And I think this way they can find like everybody can find something for their self. Also like prints are a big part of my work. I do all the prints by myself from drawing to the end print. Um, and these prints I think can also be mixed and matched from other collections if you're, that's kind of a person that likes mixing prints.
How do you ensure sustainability?
I source most of the fabrics I use or natural fabrics. I try and source, like come to a local or family-owned mill for linen for example. the prints I do actually are made in Italy and the printer I use a very ecological system for printing, which makes all the coloUrs nontoxic and all the packaging is also recyclable. The prints are always on natural materials because this is just, I don't know, being in a natural material is way, way better than being wrapped in polyester.
And also like the pieces I designed I don't take to considerations, trends as much. Because I think like there's almost like there are no more trends. Like maybe something is trendy and then the other year something else is trendy, but it's not like it used to be. I think you can just make some match everything from different seasons. Also, there's a lot of clothing in my line that can be worn. Summer, winter, it doesn't matter. so yeah, also don't, I don't have a lot of stock because I'd rather do, by order or for example, we'll make a little stock and then when it's starting to disappear, I do another, let's say a batch. So yeah, the basically there almost no waste of from past collections. I like to keep something just for my archive, but other than that, I try to, sell everything. I mean, do not think this makes it so much easier cause I don't have a lot of stock. I know approximately how much I can make and how much I can sell.