“Overall this was an incredibly valuable experience in every aspect.”
In March, United Fashion landed in Skopje for Fashion Weekend Skopje, a filled 4 day event in which 28 designers were given the chance to expand their business, meet local and international buyers and press, attend workshops and seminars, and much more. We asked the Latvian brand One Wolf, for whom it was not the first time they participated in United Fashion, to share their experiences with us.
My name is Katrina Butāne and I am a part of the One Wolf team as a wholesales manager. This decision was made because our designer had to be in Riga where the Riga Fashion Week was going on at the very same time. That is also the reason why I had to bring the Spring Summer 2019 collection for the showroom because our latest Autumn Winter 2019/2020 collection was on the runway. Honestly, we were quite concerned how the SS collection will be perceived amongst other AW collections but as we did not have another choice we took a risk and brought SS19.
At the end everything turned out very well and we received very positive feedback from buyers and media in Skopje. I would like to believe it is because One Wolf designs and aesthetics are not about one season or fashion whims – it is made to last, both – quality and style wise. This is also one way how we try to keep our collections sustainable and slow fashioned. On the other hand, maybe it is because we cleverly selected heavy denimwear, jackets and coats made of thick cotton and just few lighter garments, leaving more summertime part of the collection at home.
Riga & Berlin Fashion Week
Speaking about how we found out about and got the chance to take part in in Fashion Weekend Skopje, I must admit that this was the third time for One Wolf participating in United Fashion Project. The first one was in Riga, our home, from 23 to 27 October 2018 and the second was in Berlin from 15 to 17 January 2019, where we had the opportunity to show our AW19/20 collection in Premium Berlin Showroom, take part in Neonyt Conference and participate in extremely valuable workshops organized by Fashion Council Germany.
What did we expect from Fashion Weekend Skopje? When we applied, I must say, we did not have any idea, because nobody from our team have been in Macedonia, nor explored any business possibilities there, so we were extremely excited! Already from the application form we foresaw that the region is quite strong in production and we were keen to learn more about this aspect and hopefully establish helpful contacts in this field. Later, when I received the manual and timetable, I saw that there will be a lot more to be excited for – all the offered opportunities – workshops, presentations and factory visits looked very promising.
When I arrived at the location of the showroom, I was pleasantly surprised how delicate yet urban and well put together it was. Every designer had separate space provided where they could create their own little world intended, all the necessary help was given to assist setting up the booth and briefing for the showroom was very professionalas well as the styling and fitting for the fashion show where each of the designers had a chance to show one full look next evening. The whole showroom looked cohesive at the end, yet everyone had a chance to express themselves.
The first thing that gave me some clue about the textile and apparel industry in Balkans was the production summit, where the overall information was presented. More detailed insight I got when we visited the Okitex factory in Skopje, which was impressive indeed, because it revealed every step of garment manufacturing process starting from sketches and pattern making till the last finishing details which includes very strict quality control. Later that day we got the chance to meet factory owners and find out about production possibilities. As most of the designers found out at the end of these meetings everything comes down to minimum quantities that factory can produce and the price that designers can afford to pay and if both can come to terms then business can happen. Unfortunately, the designers whom I talked to agreed that for factory production the minimum quantities for acceptable price or the prices for the amount necessary where too high. As a part of comparatively small and up-coming brand I can very well relate to them. Moreover, I must add that we have quite well productions possibilities and conditions at home in Riga, and it would not make sense to add more transport costs and customs taxes as Macedonia is not a part of European Union. So – no production for us in Skopje, at least for now, but it is worth to know for the possibilities in the future.
The most valuable part of all the offered learning experiences for me was the Lambert and Associates presentation, and I was not the only one who valued this information as extremely useful, I would say even crucial in order to get any success in the fashion industry. For me it was a good reminding how important is to be on top of the buyers’ schedule and have our timing in order. Basically it is everything if we as a brand want to close any profitable purchase deals, because, no matter how brilliant the designs are, if we cannot get our collection, linesheets, markups, pricelists and communication plan on time then there is a small possibility of success in the plentiful fashion scene at all. Personally, for me this presentation was a huge motivation boost for my direct everyday responsibilities, and I feel very grateful for that.
Press and other contacts
Overall this was an incredibly valuable experience in every aspect. One Wolf received the best feedback from the press and media in the showroom – the project that is already completed because of the presence in the showroom is the interview with our designer Agnese Narņicka by Luca Imbimbo in “Fucking Young!” magazine, that you find here. Also, I had a chance to establish valuable business contacts for the future collaboration and meet few partners that we are already working with – it is always nice to see friendly faces abroad. Not to mention all the incredible designers and guys from the organizing team which I had a chance to get to know and learn from them – it was truly a pleasure. As I mentioned above, the business section was covered in a very high level by Lambert and Associates presentation and the technological possibilities were explained in the smallest detail in the Production Summit, Factory visits and B2B meetings.
In conclusion I have to say many thanks for this opportunity to all FWSK team who made me feel very welcome and taken care of, to the United Fashion project for selecting One Wolf for participating, and to my wonderful One Wolf team who trusted me to bring back home all the knowledge and experience possible. I feel very grateful indeed.
About One Wolf
One Wolf is a unisex, streetwear fashion brand founded on 2012 by Latvian designer Agnese Narņicka. Its unisex, ready-to-wear collections blend functionality with wit, intelligence, and asceticism, portraying the designer’s reflections about the savage aesthetics of a contemporary urbanite. Experiments with constructions and silhouettes are an intrinsic proposition of the brand, thus breaking conventions of genders and clothing, while mixing up opposing details and contrary styles of classical, casual, and sporty garments.
Text by Katrina Butane
Photos FWSK by Ani Dimi Photography & Fashion Weekend Skopje
Photo One Wolf by Andis Jurjāns