Warsaw’s fashion industry is at a dynamic point in time. Historically seen as an underdog, the city’s newly eclectic scene encourages designers to draw inspiration from their surroundings and is convincing increasingly large numbers of up and coming designers to make the city their home.
One of the city’s brightest stars is Kasia Skórzyńska. A recent graduate from the Warsaw Academy of Fine Arts, she runs her own label, KAASKAS, with her sister Julia. The label represents a contemporary aesthetic that is both intricate, bold and doesn’t attempt to play it safe.
“Inspiration can come from very different sources,” she says. “For me it is mostly travel, new observations and art that keep me inspired. I love to observe people – how they behave and how they live. It gives me a good base for thinking about what do I want to add to my offer. There is so much product out there – I want my designs to be thought through and to be conscious about what I’m sending into the world.”
Skórzyńska believes that her education at the Academy of Fine Arts was crucial to her success.
“I think what the Academy taught me really well is how to explore your imagination to the most and not be afraid to experiment,” she tells Emerging Europe. “Also, to stay true to what’s inside of you, creatively. That your own personal aesthetic is what distinguishes you from others and how you can translate that into a well-designed product in all aspects – design, textile, quality. What I think is specific is the interconnection between different art disciplines – drawing, painting, sculpture, textile design – the programme is not just about garment design and I think it’s incredibly creative and specific to fashion faculties in fine arts academies like Warsaw or Antwerp.”
Excited about the developments in the Warsaw fashion scene she nevertheless admits that it can still be tough to get noticed outside of the region.
“I think that over the last five years the Warsaw fashion scene has changed a lot in terms of new brands,” she says. “There are definitely a lot of Polish brands that produce exceptional products that have to work extremely hard to get noticed outside of the country, just because this region of Europe is still a little bit underestimated. But I think that slowly, things are moving in the right direction, thanks to social media of course but also the launch of the Polish edition of Vogue. It helps, and it’s a good sign.”
Skórzyńska sees the future of fashion in Warsaw in product-oriented brands built very organically, just like KAASKAS.
“I love that,” she says. “Not celebrity designer brands but brands that offer great quality products, and which often specialise in one type of product and grow from that. I think it’s very smart and allows the business to grow in a more thought-through and authentic way.”
Warsaw, says Skórzyńska, is down to earth, “in a good way.”
“It responds to actual needs and is accessible, price wise,” she adds.
“Generally I think that we are in a very interesting and revolutionary time for fashion – the old system, and the ‘fashion bubble’ is becoming more and more irrelevant to the world we live in and so smaller brands have a chance to grow and appear with their ideas worldwide. At the same time I feel that there is less and less creative experiment in fashion in general, and lots of brands are creating a very similar offer. The social media that help with promotion and recognition on the one hand also – in my opinion – make a lot of brands look kind of the same. It’s very difficult to stay unique. I feel like Warsaw has that fresh potential but we really have to be careful not to fall for the current instamood.”