Photos by Amanda Coen for Ecouterre
Firma released its Autumn/Winter 2013 Inside Straight collection, revealing several distinctly Eastern European touches. The Slovenian label is designed by Sanja Grcic who sources materials for and produces her line within her home country’s boundaries. Grcic was recently in New York City to share her latest collection and we caught up with her during her month-long residency at the RSPOP pop-up at the Roger Smith Hotel.
Inside Straight offers sophisticated, flowing silhouettes, playful prints and cuts, and transformable elements that can be combined in unique ways to suit various occasions. One design in particular, the six-sleeved top, offers three different sleeve lengths that give the wearer plenty of fodder for creating various looks from one garment. Another silk and viscose top features a transformable collar that can be left unbuttoned for a sailor-look, can be partly buttoned for a date night or can be completely closed for cooler days when neck-coverage is key. Combined with flowing, green silk pants, the complete outfit is comfortable, stylish and distinct.
The designs result in part from Grcic working in a context that is different from many other international designers. In Slovenia, the fashion industry is almost non-existent and things move at a different pace. Production is handled by familiar faces and fabrics tend to be sourced from Slovenia or neighboring Italy. With Inside Straight, Grcic pays homage to several Slovenian traditions and values. For instance, tall Kekec hats that accompany the collection are inspired by the popular national folklore hero “Kekec.” Hand-felted by local people from their animals’ wool, the hats revive a Slovenian cultural icon from the early 20th century and give new meaning to the popular style.
Living in a region where workmanship is still a strong part of the culture, Grcic doesn’t have to go far when thinking of where to produce her line. Other options are barely considered as she finds herself surrounded by the skills needed to accomplish her visions. For the printed fabrics used in Inside Straight, Grcic turned to fellow Slovenian artist, Milanka Fabjancic of the brand Ha ha. Fabjancic created custom illustrations for Firma that were later printed on fabrics that appear in several dresses and tops. When it comes to production, Grcic brings her designs to be cut and sewn by the same neighbors with whom she shares meals and conversation on a regular basis.
Beyond her own line, Grcic has also found a way to have an impact on her country. As the main stylist for national television, the fashion choices she makes are visually consumed across Slovenia. Grcic is familiar with fellow designers’ work and does her best to support them by collaboratively crafting a vision of Slovenian fashion as communicated through the media. Grcic also works to impact change on a smaller scale by offering educational design workshops for youth. Using scraps from her collections, children create and sew their own designs while building on a long tradition of craftsmanship and resourcefulness.
Though Grcic’s time in New York City has come to a close, the designer was able to accomplish a great deal during her three-month stay. Beyond the RSPOP pop-up, Grcic was invited to bring her work to Chelsea Market for a week in February and participated in Brooklyn Fashion Week[end]. Keep posted as this Eastern European designer will undoubtedly make more appearances in the near future, adding to and expanding upon the sustainable fashion conversation.