Top Slovenia interview: Julija Kaja Hrovat

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Julia Kaja Hrovat, you are one of the best Slovenian fashion designers and we always look forward to seeing your new collections at Ljubljana Fashion Week. How would you describe yourself to those who don’t know you that well?

I was born in Toronto, where all my immediate family still lives. At the age of one we moved to Slovenia. I was raised with an awareness of Slovenian heritage, which has become a huge influence in my work. I love art and culture, dislike reading books but love movies and music. I love living in the city, can’t live without a bicycle, love coffee, try to spend my weekends in nature and in the mountains, I have a dog named “Lepa Vida” and I love to laugh!

Did you always dream of becoming a fashion designer?

Yes and no. When I was a child I wanted to be a hairdresser, then I wanted to be a painter and soon after I decided I will be a fashion designer. I enrolled in a graphic design program at the Ljubljana high school for Art and Design and later on studied fashion and textile design.

Where do you find inspiration for your creations?

My inspiration comes from the rich heritage of Slovenia, but it is a combination of cultural heritage and every day city life. This is also the intent of my brand – JKH identity, to bring Slovenian heritage in to the 21st century and make it wearable in our everyday life!

How much time does it take you to prepare a collection?

The ideas come fast, the process takes a bit longer. If I want to launch a new collection in the beginning of April, I start working on it late December.

Slovetno is a line that honors Slovenian cultural heritage. How would you describe your fashion brand Slovetno to those readers who haven’t heard of it before?

The project slovetno is and always will be an ongoing concept, just like identity that is never a concluded idea. Slovenian identity for years was shaped and preserved by its culture much before the countries independence.Slovetno, a line of JKH identity is a modern take based on tradition. The fashion & lifestyle line evolved from the idea of ​​preserving the Slovenian cultural heritage in a totally modern way, with the help of digitalization and modern textile processing techniques. Slovetno is here to point out our heritage. A line of clothing and accessories, focusing on Slavic heritage patterns, designed to fit into the modern world we live in. By digitally manipulating identity patterns we bring them back to life, “NOW”  they become more modern, wearable, made from natural materials, just like clothing used to be. The pieces are designed for people to wear, when making new memories reminding them of places they visited, the place they are form and the heritage and identity of Slovenia.

Where can we get your stunning pieces from the brand Slovetno?

The whole range of slovETNO products can be purchased online at www.jkh-identity.com/slovetno, also by appointment at my studio on Gosposvetska cesta. A range of selected products are also available at Galerija Kar=in and soon at www.the-slovenia.com 

You are a part of the younger generation of Slovenian fashion designers. In your opinion, how are the younger fashion designers changing the fashion scene in Slovenia?

I think we are bolder in our ideas. We dare to take more risks in our designs.  Our risk taking in our approach to fashion has been well received. We grew up in the age of the internet and digital technology, that helps a lot, we also have presence on social media and therefore are more approachable than it seems.

Do you think Slovenians are bold enough with their fashion choices?

I wish that we/they could do better. Sometimes I sit down and watch people pass to get inspirations, how they move, what they wear and lately they all look the same. I think Slovenians are obsessed with the question: “what will others think”, if you like something you should go for it no matter what it may be-an item of clothing, a job, etc.

What are you going to incorporate in your next collection? What can we expect?

I’m just in the process of launching the SS21 collection that will be in pastel colors, graphic prints and light flowing materials. It will be a tribute to a folk story about mountain fairies that lived in the Valley of Trenta – called “Krivopetnice”. They had long green hair and feet turned backwards, they keep watch over the mountain goats, helped and steered hikers on the right paths, told fortunes to new born babies and honored the “Goldenhorn – Zlatorog”. The Goldenhorn, was prized by all Hunters who wanted to hunt and kill him in order to obtain his golden horns. These horns were the key to a treasure in the valley that was protected by a hundred headed dragon. if he was wounded, the Triglav flowers grew where droplets of  his blood fell, as it had magical healing powers. After a series of unfortunate events in the Trenta Valley, Krivopetnice gathered all their mountain goats and left the valley forever. Now only live in legends.

What do you think about fast fashion and why should we start investing in sustainable fashion pieces?

I never really liked fast fashion. Firstly we have too much clothing that we end up not wear, we all look the same and then we throw these clothes away being of poor quality that cannot be recycled or resold. I was raised with the awareness of sustainability; my mom taught me how to choose my fashion pieces and how to take care of my clothes so they would last.  She opened the world of vintage clothing and quality second hand clothing to me. First we should buy thing we like and love, buy quality not quantity, take care of out clothing starting with a basic wardrobe with statement pieces that we build upon. This way we find that we never tire of our clothes and easily own them forever. If we do decide to part with an item it is easily resold of passed on.

Is your style different from what you present to us in your collections? Do you wear your own pieces or is your everyday style totally different?

My personal style is my brands identity; I think that the designer is the best representative of the brand. So yes, my wardrobe consists of JKH, slovetno and vintage.

What are your go to key pieces in your collection, and in your own wardrobe? A little black dress, a good pair of jeans, or something else?

Slovetno socks, a printed summer jumpsuit, a knit winter sweater dress, wide pants and a sweeter with the Triglav flower patch. In my wardrobe there is also a good pair of black jeans that go with everything and red lipstick!

Was quarantine a time for you to relax or to bring to life new ideas and creations?

In the first round I took time off to rest and collect new energy. In the second round I worked like crazy, launched my online shop, made some bold decisions and also started a new project to help young Slovenian designer get noticed – “Vili Van Style”, the first Slovenian mobile boutique. We’ll see what will happen in the third round…

What are your personal wishes and business goals for the year ahead?

Personal: to rember myself everyday to take time for yourself, recharge and relax. Business: focus on my brand, do what I love and live off of that.

What is your motto in life?

Go for it. Do what you love and enjoy life, the rest follows.