A sensitive and responsible local brand that asks questions in its work and design – “we need to think about how and where the fabric for our clothing comes from. It is up to us to preserve nature and each other. We need to ask questions, to take an interest.” GRETES invites you to ask these questions too. Meet the GRETES brand.
What’s behind the GRETES brand name? Is there a story behind it?
The choice of the brand name was spontaneous. I wanted it to reflect my thoughts and my creativity. It seemed the best option to identify the brand with my name at the time. Communication strategists always recommend preparing a catchy name story, but I like to be open and tell it like it is. No intrigue: my name = my creation. ☺
Why did you choose lingerie and sleepwear design? And do you draw a clear line between how lingerie design should look like?
The decision came very naturally. I like to feel comfortable at home. When I get home or am at home all day, I want to be in my pajamas and nightwear. I think I’m not the only one. ☺ So, I decided that I could create nightwear that would also be dressy and glamorous at the same time. I don’t draw the line of what the design should look like. In life, and when I think about art, I learn not to put anything in a box because that can leads to missing out on incredible opportunities.
How would you describe your world as a creator and the world of the GRETES brand? What makes it alive and unique?
My world is very unpredictable but orderly. Maybe the same can be said for the GRETES brand. It’s free and dreamy (and dreams take you wherever you want to go), but at the same time, it’s down-to-earth, here with you. I love spending time in nature, and I think that’s reflected in the brand image. After all, nature is also us. I wanted everything I create to blend in with human beings so that they don’t feel constrained and feel like they’re naked in a comfortable way.
How do you choose shapes, constructions and colors for your designs?
First, comfort is the most important thing when it comes to design. Did you know that all over the world, clothes are made to “standard” measurements? There is one standard in the United States, another in Europe, another in Asia, and so on. Many brands produce clothes according to a standard to save time and money. When I talked to my sewing team, I told them we would have a challenge – creating a standard that works for everyone. Yes, we have universally accepted sizes, but a girl wearing a size M might have rounder buttocks, right? And that’s okay! It’s our job to create a model that fits all shapes. And I think we have succeeded in that.
Secondly, this was our first collection in terms of colors and construction. So I chose a standard color palette. And there were some very classic designs, some more interesting ones. That’s how I explore customer preferences. I plan to have more colors and more exciting constructions in the future.
What can be seen in your work, and what influences it?
Maybe harmony? That’s how I felt in my life during that period, so that might be reflected in my work.
What is the most exciting part of being a designer, a creator?
No routine, opportunity for continuous improvement. Design and fashion are entirely new fields for me, so I still have much to learn. I don’t pretend to be a professional. But the lack of prejudice allows me to look at the whole process differently, so it’s an opportunity to find exciting and novel solutions.
How do you use the term sustainability? How is sustainability reflected in your creative processes?
I will talk about sustainability in fashion first and foremost; there are three key things:
1. How the textiles and the details of the clothes came about;
2. Who made the clothes;
3. How the clothes circulate in the market and what happens to them.
So I will talk a little bit about each one:
To start with, the emergence of fabric. When it comes to natural materials, they often require a lot of water and chemicals to produce. For example, a single pair of jeans can require around 550 liters of water and between 0.8 and 1.8 kg of chemicals (if they are made of cotton). Or another interesting fact – in India, there is an 8-hour train between two cities called the cancer train. Every day about 100 passengers on the train are cotton field workers from the Punjab region. They are diagnosed with cancer and go to the hospital, hoping to get better. And these workers are getting sick from the pesticides they spray on the cotton. There are cases where they later use these pesticide containers to store drinking water because of poverty and lack of knowledge. What I am saying with these two facts is that we need to think about how and where the fabric for our clothing comes from. It is up to us to preserve nature and each other. We need to ask questions, to take an interest.
The second point is who made the garment. Behind the story of every single item of clothing you wear, there is a person who made it. You must wonder whether he received a fair payment for his work? I have a short story here, too. At the beginning of my career, I sewed hair scrunchies out of silk. I was looking for silk producers for direct orders. It is no secret that China is an exporter of silk, and one factory made me two offers: to buy silk from them and to buy hair elastics made by their employees. And they gave prices. So the cost of the silk fabric was the same as the price of the made rubber. Whereas rubber bands require not only silk, thread, rubber, and human labor, but were all of these elements reflected in the price? The rubber band cost less than EUR 1. P.S. From this point on, I became very conscious of sustainability.
Finally, the presence of the clothes on the market and what happens to them next. Ninety-two million tonnes of unwanted clothes are deposited on our land yearly (Google “Atacama Desert Pollution,” and you will see one example). Only 1% of textiles are recycled. I was shocked to learn these figures. It turns out that, these days, the only materials that can be recycled are those that are made of 100% single fiber, which means that if a fleece is made of 50% polyester, 45% linen, and 5% spandex, it will not be able to be recycled. The presence of polyester in the garment means it will not fall apart. There is also a growing awareness of the problem of clothing made from recycled plastics. The situation is that it is possible to recycle plastic into a garment. Still, recycling that garment into another piece of apparel is impossible, so it will be deposited on the planet again and not break down. It is the creator’s responsibility to think not only about how to make a garment but what its life will be in the future.
So what I wanted to say with these few examples is that the clothes should be made of the most natural or solid fibers possible and that they should be recyclable or they should be able to decompose on their own. To summarise, if a garment meets these three criteria in a good way, it is sustainable.
Tell us about the Naia™ technology and material in your work.
Textiles made from Eucalyptus and pine pellets are produced with NAIA™ technology.
The fabric uses significantly less water than conventional fabrics. No dangerous chemicals are used either. The company maintains the highest standards. The textile can also decompose in nature. The fabric material is also human-friendly: it is non-allergenic to the skin, breathable, incredibly soft, and gentle.
Its texture is similar to silk, precisely what I was looking for. It is tough to manage when sewing – but I believe the customers appreciate the result. I am delighted that the fabric was designed specifically for the GRETES brand. Even though the material can disintegrate, I have worked hard to ensure that customers can return our pajamas once they have been worn and that we recycle them into new ones.
Just recently, we have managed to find partners thst can make it happen – we are working on the last details, and the goal will be realized. ☺
Tell us how the GRETES design space looks like?: chaotic, organized, or a balance of everything?
Tidy, minimalist. I like to avoid getting bogged down with unnecessary things, which makes me feel heavy as if I’m running out of air and my head is under pressure. I only think of chaos or disorder when I need to pack parcels or receive a new collection. But I always try to do it as quickly as possible, even when I’m exhausted because otherwise, I can’t even sleep. ☺
What about the music? Do you like to listen to it while you work and create? If so, what kind of music could we hear if we came to your studio unexpectedly?
Oh, she’s always by my side, whether I’m jogging, going to the studio, working, or just cooking. At the moment, I like to listen to classical music in the studio; I feel like I’m somewhere else, and I can empathize. When I’m running or doing sports, I play random recommended sports playlists on Spotify – the music is more groovy and rhythmic, and it helps me to get through the distance. ☺
I like to listen to 80s-90s music during my leisure time.