A few days ago I shared my thoughts on beautiful Latvia in the travel section with you. Thus, I was more than happy when I got to do an interview with Visual Journalist Agnese Kleina who told me about current fashion trends and much more. :-)
1. The Baltic states have more models per capital than almost anyplace else in the world, would you say the fashion industry in the Baltics is starting to emerge as a serious money-making business? I’d separate the modeling business from the fashion industry as such. While models are a part of the fashion industry, there’s more than that – designers, retailers, media, events, producers etc. I’d say that we learn and acquire more and more experience with every fashion week and trade show, but there’s still much more to learn to seriously say that fashion in the Baltics is a serious money-making business. Just give us more time please. :-)
2. Many people automatically think of these Latvian traditional costumes when talking about fashion and culture in the Baltic States. Do they still play an important symbolic role and are there regional differences? I wouldn’t necessarily agree with that. Some would say it’s actually The Song and Dance festival or the globally famous Latvian opera singers that present Latvian culture. Other than that, recently there is this trend to incorporate details of Latvian traditional costume into modern everyday fashion. I’m an example here – I wear traditional bracelets, footwear and headpieces along with modern Latvian fashion design.
3. A few years ago designers from the Baltics were known for their wildly creative but rather impractical clothes. What has changed over the years? (…) Overall, with a few exceptions, traditionally Latvian fashion design has been more a form of art than a practical piece of clothing but this has changed during the recent years through experience acquired by designers taking part in international trade shows and showrooms (Paris, Berlin, London, etc).
4. What are the biggest influences in Baltic fashion? As in the previous questions, I can answer only about Latvian fashion. Latvians have always been taking inspiration from the nature. In recent years there’s also been traces of inspiration taken from urban living, eco lifestyle (recycled fashion) and Latvian history (mostly 20s-40s and 80s-90s).
5. What are your favorite local designers? I like that we have real opposites here – from elaborate lace and crazy custom made prints to architectural cuts and shapes executed in black. My favourites are BLANKBLANK, MAREUNROL’S, One Wolf, QooQoo, Katya Shehurina, ArtJam, YAYOI and Elīna Dobele.
6. How would you describe street style in Riga? Depends on the generation or the crowd. Teens are into the 90’s craze ruling over the world at the moment, while architects and graphic designers will do anything for a new garment in black. J Overall, Latvians are not afraid of colours, girls are more feminine here than in, let’s say, Scandinavia.
7. Who are currently the biggest fashion icons in Riga/Latvia? People in Riga don’t really follow fashion icons, they want to be ones themselves. I’m not bragging here, it’s just the reality.
8. How would you describe your personal style? Unpredictable (except for a hat or a hairpiece – a common thing of mine because I need to dot my own i). I always wear at least one piece (at least a bracelet) made in Latvia by local designers or craftsmen. It gives me a certain kind of energy, I just don’t know. Recently I’ve discovered a new color for me – black.
9.What are your favorite fashion boutiques and hot spots in Riga? I always bring my foreign guests to design concept store Paviljons (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Paviljons/153661214722376) and RIIJA for locally made crafts and interior design elements (https://www.facebook.com/pages/Riija/148104515248533). Hottest spots for a quick lunch/ meeting for work or leisure: Mākonis cafe (https://www.facebook.com/MakonisCoffee), VEST (https://www.facebook.com/VestRiga) and Žanna Café (https://www.facebook.com/zannakafe?ref=br_tf). Do take a stroll along Miera street for little shops and artisan cafes.
10. What are three essentials you always carry along on your travels? Something to read – Apartamento magazine or occasional book, my laptop (wearing a cover by Pap Sweden) and a hat. Two reasons for the hat: easy to hide unwashed hair and easy to spot me in a foreign crowd by my fellow traveler.
photo credentials and copyright: Agnese Kleina