kaisa kahu Apr 09, 2016
NWind mag on Keta, Marit and Liucija
They are different, stubborn, hungry and eager to conquer. A cool insight into the fashion worlds of Keta Gutmane, Marit Ilison and Liucija Kvasyte worlds. 3 fashion designers from 3 Baltic countries interviewed by N WIND, the LT platform for exchanges of creative Northern energy. Glad to have helped with Keta's part in it, give it a read and let me know in comments what you think!
Text by: AUŠRA PRASAUSKAITĖ
I discovered Keta’s work after the film “Lust Lust”, that she was involved with., It won “A Shaded View on Fashion Film Festival” award back in 2010. It was a part of my fashion film study program at the London College of Fashion. “Lust Lust” was seen as a great example of a novel genre of fashion films. But Keta’s love for it didn’t last.
Her two-year old namesake label is her main focus at the moment. “Focus” is the word this Latvian creative mentions over and over again during the interview. After dipping her toes in a variety of creative projects, having collaborated with artists, musicians and film directors she has finally found her focus. It lies in designing her own collections, which are gaining more and more international recognition. Ironically, she hasn’t made any films for her own brand.
- Your studies started at the end of the 90ies, a completely different era for fashion from what we have now. What was going on back then and how has it shaped your work ideas?
- My studies started with me discovering the phenomenon of anti-fashion. Back then, we were very focused on individualism, on the inner world of people. I completely fell in love with the designers that came with a big manifesto, for example, Belgian or Japanese creators. Fashion is about producing a small art piece as a series, and each collection starts differently. I noticed that I mostly concentrate on the questions exploring my darkest fantasies, my inner world. You can see that through my images. My brand images tell a better story about my influences and ideas than I
- Do you think your work would be any different if you came from a completely different cultural background?
- It’s not quite precise to make a comparison between me and a specific cultural background. Of course the environment where you live leaves an impression on you, but it’s a big question if it directly influences my creation. I haven’t used the Soviet Union background consciously. I am not interested in exploring those roots this way. There are many other aspects that form me, like family, karma, etc. This is a relative question for me. In this life you were born as a Latvian, but in some previous and future ones it’s something else. Through the 90ies rave scene happenings in Riga I could live my outsider nature, and since then I have always been looking towards the outside, looking west.
- Do you follow the work of other designers?
- “Follow” wouldn’t be the right word. I wonder about the way designers can express their ideas and create history. In order to make history, your work needs to leave a very big impact on the society. This is what I’m interested in, not following them, as that sounds a lot like “copying”.
It’s important to know your history, know the history of fashion and create your own path. It is very important to concentrate on yourself. However, it’s hard to do that as we live in a digital era and see many pictures every day, each of them quietly leaving an impact on us. One needs to be very careful in observing and working with this visual info in the right way.
- Is it hard to find the balance between what you want to create and what the stores and customers want you to create?
- When I build my collections, it starts with me and the concept of the collection. Then, my team comes in and tackles pricing and other issues outside design. We have our own vision, handwriting and style that we work with, and as we can see, there is a rising demand for this. The buyers understand and want to be a part of this and sell it. I am not making fantasy clothes, I make quality everyday clothing, it’s very wearable, this is my main task. I make no abstractions about relics or parquet floors.
- What is the essence of Keta Gutmane as a brand?
- Keta Gutmane is a brand of womenswear that bridges classic tailoring with urban aesthetics. We choose to work with quality and natural fabrics and our garments are well thought out in their technological solutions. Quality is of utmost importance. The brand outfits form a language that
always stretches into a deeper search for convictions and seeks the mystery in the image of a woman, where the masculine and feminine unite. Beauty is emphasized not in a physical sense but in an unworldly one, which has great physical and spiritual power.
- What do you lack the most for your brand to succeed?
- We need more knowledge, to discover better ways to how to work with international teams, sales and PR agents, stylists – it’s all very important and interconnected.
- We do not have big success stories of great fashion designers coming from the Baltic region. What do you think needs to be done to change that? We already have the advantage of great locally based factories, producing clothes for the best brands from all over the world, and yet, Baltic designers are struggling.
- This is an interesting issue, I think it all starts with individuals, with personalities. If you look at the history of fashion, it’s great personalities that make great impact. I think we need to start with education. It would be great to have one institution in the Baltic States, bringing together designers from Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Professors and teams working there should all have international experience. The biggest problem for the Baltic States is that we lack connections and dialogues. I have spent one year teaching at the Academy of Art here in Riga and I noticed that we have talented students, but they have nothing to do here after finishing their studies, no-one to help, advise or guide them. So, we end up having that very unfortunate situation where those talents go outside to learn more – be it London, Belgium or any other place – and do not return. It’s an inadequately structured educational system issue. …
- Do you show your collections at Riga Fashion Week?
- I wanted to have that experience, so I did try it a year ago. But it didn’t have any impact on sales or press – absolutely zero.. I think it might only be useful for established brands, which are only focused on the local market.
- Your designs are very particular, they’re not for everyone’s taste. How do you do in Latvia, where you have such a tiny market?
- My clients are from abroad. In the Baltics, we need a longer time to enter the market in order to be perceived as equals to those brands who are from abroad. Everything is unfortunately very slow and happens too late here, like the arrival of trends or fashion seasons. At the same time, we try to enter the market anyway.
- It seems like it’s fashionable to be in fashion now, with so many small, new, amateur fashion brands popping up. Have you noticed this trend in Latvia?
- Yes, definitely. We’re living in times when anybody can be a designer, with or without education, it’s just a question of how one handles it, what kind of ambition one has. I however, am at the point in my life where I care more about focusing on the things I have to do personally, not looking at others. I understand that if I reach more people internationally, I will be successful the way I want to be. I don’t really look at the local scene. We live in a democratic society and each one of us can be a creator. It’s also a question of taste. The young generation is educated and cultured; they’re in tune with what is happening around us and where to go if they need to buy quality clothes. They question things.
- You have witnessed a lot of changes in fashion, can you guess what will be next?
- It’s very difficult to predict something. I think the current situation in luxury fashion houses such as Dior and Balenciaga is really sad, when great fashion personalities are leaving.. Whatever happens, it will have a big impact on society. My guess is that fashion will become merely a playground for big, corporate companies. Big fashion houses have become corporate businesses, I think that the time of personalities is over.
- What are the best and worst things about living in Latvia?
- I love my country very much, and I believe in the people living here and in those who try to make our living environment better and smarter. But I’m also upset about the political situation here, it’s like two different parts of society who do not understand each other. It’s as if the politicians are trying to do everything in order to make people feel unnecessary here. It’s sad that many young people move abroad looking for a better life or better education and are not coming back. I love, however, how calm Latvia is, I feel comfortable living here.
- What’s the one ultimate thing that you would recommend for me to do when visiting Latvia?
- Gastronomic culture is now booming in Latvia. We have great new restaurants, boulangeries,
serving very tasteful and interesting things. My current favourite is Kolekcionārs café.
Text by AUŠRA PRASAUSKAITĖ
Production by KAISA KAHU / THINDIVIDUAL
Read all at https://issuu.com/n_wind/docs/nwind09_2016_april-may