Designer Martina Spetlova discusses fashion, fabric and science

A Martina Spetlova design

At WGSN we love showcasing new talent, and recently one designer caught our eye: leather and texture specialist- Martina Spetlova. What makes her stand out from the crowd? Well, she had a very different entry into the fashion world, thanks to a background in chemistry. Here she explains how she got her start, how sustainable fashion can still be cool and how as a new designer she is building her burgeoning following (after being selected by Selfridges in 2016 as one of their “Bright New Things”).

Martina Spetlova AW/17

What’s your fashion story, how did you get into setting up your own line?

I originally studied chemistry, having always had a love for textiles and colour. I decided to change my career path entirely when a friend suggested applying for a Fashion Textiles course at Central Saint Martins. After the BA course I managed to get on the Masters under the guidance of the late Louise Wilson in 2010, which essentially set me up to start my label a couple of years later.  My fashion story has been an ongoing journey, one of the highlights of my career was being chosen by Selfridges as one of their “Bright New Things” and having my own window on Oxford Street.

From chemistry to fashion seems like a big leap? How did they inform each other?

It might seem like a big leap but on the contrary I can see many similarities in the way in which I approach my work. It always starts as an experiment. I work out my textiles first to create volume, textures and also the form. These ideas then have a very strong influence on the construction of the garments and are then transformed into my collection pieces.

What role does fabric and texture play in your design process? 

Fabric experiments are a core part of my designs. I work with a variety of textures and colours as this plays a very important part in my work. I try to keep the DNA of my brand strong each season by using my previous collections as the inspiration behind the development of my new collection.


Fabric and texture play a crucial role in Martina’s designs.

How hard/easy is it to keep reinventing leather and the way you sculpt and play with it?

I find leather has been the most exciting material for me so far to manipulate and treat to give new looks and textures. Each season I refer to a contemporary painter or painting for the colours and I am always trying to explore new structures and surface textures that can be woven into, punched, embossed or stitched into the leather. Leather is such a strong and versatile base for my experiments and I have been lucky enough to collaborate with great leather tanneries where I can put this curiosity and research into practice with the support of great technical staff.

What are some challenges that you feel within fashion at the moment and any future challenges?

There are many challenges for a small label to design and produce new exciting collections season on season without the business investment and knowledge of more established brands. Brand awareness and publicity help but don’t necessarily equal sales and getting to work with one of the more established retailers can often be very challenging. Also large retailers have many more regulations (ship dates, markdown money requests, labeling, packing) so even with a few stockists the struggle to survive is non-stop. Add to that the uncertainty in the future in the UK, which is pushing up the costs of textile suppliers across in Europe.

Martina Spetlova AW/17

How hard is it to design and sell in the luxury market?

I love the design process and I believe that as a creative individual I don’t find the design process hard however being in the luxury market there is a lot of competition. It’s a very tough market to be in and although I’m building a broader range in my collections to hit different price points, it’s been my most complicated and intricate pieces that get most attention.

How do you describe your customer, and do you design with a specific person in mind?

Yes I always have someone in mind but she has different aspects of her character like the stories in my collection. She is a creative woman with a passion for art and has an active mind and life. Her changing traits are shown throughout the collection.

What role does social media play in your business? And how do you use it to tell the story about the brand?

Social media has been a great way to tell my story, to reach out and grow my audience, as well as put me in touch directly with clients, stylists and editors. Instagram in particular continues to be the most successful at catching interest, so it is really an invaluable, immediate way for me to communicate.

What are you dreams for the future? 

To continue building my brand and inspire people, creating worldwide presence.

Find out more about Martina here

Image credits: Photography: Sylwana Zybura, Art Direction & Styling: Thomas C. Toth, Make up design: Hungry, Hair: Attila Kenyeres, Model: Hungry @ishehungry


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