Klára Nademlýnská is a professional to the last. Through her words, you can feel her love for the craft and the fabrics her models are made of. At the end of last year, the talented designer celebrated an impressive 20 years of the brand's existence on the market, which means it’s the ideal time for balancing and light nostalgia. In an interview for Luxury Prague Life, she thought back to her beginnings and more. Perhaps her tips will help new designers, whom she also mentioned…
Before our interview you said you were heading to Paris for an expo. Where specifically did your steps lead?
It was the Premiere Vision Fabrics Expo, where I’ve been a regular practically my entire professional life. I used to visit it even before starting my own brand. At that time, I used to go there to choose fabrics with the company I was working for in Paris. So I know my way around, and I also know people from several companies we regularly work with and get fabrics from. We meet up there every six months, tell each other what’s been going on in our lives and share news from the fashion world.
So you like going abroad for inspiration?
I can't imagine not going. First of all, it really is a form of inspiration - what's hovering in the air in the fashion world. And then, of course, the fabric manufacturers also present some novelties, colors... The technology keeps moving forward. You don't have much chance to buy or see such a large palette of materials in our country.
At the end of 2018, you celebrated 20 years of your brand's market presence. How much has the fashion world changed over that time?
Incredibly much. New technologies brought a great change, e-shops, Instagrams, Facebooks. Lots of people follow fashion online and they don’t even go to an actual shop, so they could get a feel of it.
Multinational chains that copy whatever designers and famous fashion houses come up with are another issue. On the one hand, it’s nice that it reaches a broader audience. But because the production is often of poor quality and made of low quality fabrics, young people are not taught to demand quality one day, seeing as they can always buy fast consumption fashion and throw it into trash half a year later. They no longer have fine taste or the upbringing to know what silk, polyester or wool are like, and whether something has been sewn well or poorly.
They care about the looks, but not so much about the materials anymore?
The only thing that’s important for them is superficial appearance. For me, fashion has always meant that a piece needs to look good, but it must also be well made, of a quality material, and it must be a good fit. So that it could bring you joy for a long time rather than being a one-season or a 6-month thing.
What materials do you prefer to work with?
The natural ones for sure - silk, cotton, wool. I’m not saying no to blends, if they are well made, but natural materials still prevail. They’re the best ones to work with.
In your opinion, did it use to be easier to work and succeed in the fashion world in the past?
It’s always been challenging in some ways. When I was starting in Prague, there was almost nothing here. So, on one hand, there was demand, but on the other hand, fashion was being pushed aside and left by the wayside. Now I feel that a lot of people have already found their style, their unique taste, they’ve found their favorite brands and designers, but there’s much more competition than there used to be.
I think the main issue is that people are often unable to recognize quality, and then they wonder why designer clothes cost so much, when they’d pay only a half or a third of the price elsewhere. The difference is in quality - the processing of the material - as well as in the fact that designers never produce five thousand pieces of an item; they make just five.
Did the requirements of your clients change over time as well?
They did. What I can say for us here, our clients are more and more frequently looking for originality. And as I’ve already said, they’ve all found their own individual ways and know what they can expect from which designer. They come to get their favorite pieces and look for something else.
What are you most proud of in your professional life?
Probably that we’ve survived those 20 years. (laughs) It may sound funny, but basically every six months or every year, you can’t be sure how successful your new collection will be, if people will like it and how well it will sell. In fact, every six months are a new beginning for a designer. I think most of us keep doing it because it’s a kind of fulfillment and we enjoy it, otherwise it would be impossible.
Mercedes-Benz Prague Fashion Week has just finished. What’s your opinion on it?
I think it is one of the best events here in the Czech Republic, I myself have participated several times. Right now we’re working a little differently, so we don't participate, because I don't have the whole collection ready so long in advance. But I think it is very useful. Even following the continuity, it's really cool that we have such an event and that it’s functioning the way it is. Most importantly, for many young designers or students it is the only place where they can show their work to the general and professional public.
Do you also visit fashion weeks abroad?
Not really. I rather go to the fabric expos I’ve mentioned, where there is more inspiration for me and where I can look for sources of new materials for my collections. Sometimes I check something out on the Internet, but I'm not really all that invested in following everything that’s going on.
Do you have a message for young designers who are just beginning to create?
From what I can see, we have a lot of talented people here, not only in clothing design, but in design in general. I’d like to tell them not to forget about the craft.
Do you have a favorite among young designers?
I don’t think I can give you a specific name, but there are many people who have the talent. For example, I’ve collaborated on two collections with a student, who is now studying abroad. These are the kind of people I believe will stay in the business and go a long way.
Thinking back, what were your beginnings like?
That was completely different. (laughter) It was a different time, I had just finished the secondary school of clothing in Prague and both me and my husband were aware that things weren’t really open here when it came to the creative site, so we went straight to Paris.
It was a great leap into the unknown, since we didn’t know anyone, and we didn’t know the language either. And indeed, for the first two years we had to fend for ourselves. So I went through the entire scope of the craft from sewing through creating the cuts to designing, and it was a really great school for me. When any of the students ask me, I always tell them: "You should definitely go somewhere abroad, that's the best education you can get."
Which destination would you recommend? Paris?
It doesn't matter if it's Paris, London, New York or Milan, main thing they get out of the country.
How old were you when you made your first piece? And what was it?
Since my mom had a high school education on top of being a vocational women’s tailor, she used to sew for her clientele at home. So I grew up in the middle of it all and ever since primary school - the eighth or ninth grade - I've been making my first attempts. Of course, with my mother's help, because I probably wouldn’t have been able to cut anything myself back then. I remember my first corduroy skirt, I must have been around fourteen and I was proudly wearing it. Of course, my mother helped me with that one too. I was in high school when I started sewing completely by myself.
If you hadn’t become a fashion designer, what would you most likely be doing today?
Well, that's a question… I guess I'd be doing crafts somewhere. I like to work with my hands, to see something take form in front of me. If I hadn't become a designer, I might have gone for renovation of paintings, textiles or something like that.
So you are destined for the art world?
It keeps tempting me! (laughter)