maandag 4 mei 2015


Meet Liga Garda: a fashion designer based in Riga, Latvia.

Liga Garda joined PAVILJONS, a fashion and lifestyle concept store based in Riga, after she finished her study in fashion design at Teko Design and Business, VIA University College in Denmark. She has created two collections under PAVILJONS label for now. She will participate at the designer market of FASHIONCLASH Festival 2015. Be ready to buy her clothes by then!

Q&A with designer Liga Garda:

How would you describe your work? What is your unique technique?
As PAVILJONS is based in the North, we always try to emphasize the need to dress appropriately for the climate. Therefore, we offer clothing suitable for harsh and cold weather conditions. It was obvious for our ancestors to create clothing which was durable, warm and waterproof and on the top of that all materials were natural. With this in mind, our own vision is to find contemporary Latvian design identity by using the techniques and traditional crafts of previous generations. One of these crafts that are very essential for northerners has always been knitting. Unfortunately, locally it is a dying proficiency, especially in larger scale, such as mass production, which would improve the economics and generally give benefit. Though most of the older people still know how to knit, the problem can reach us along with the younger generations. Therefore, we feel responsible for keeping this craft alive and appealing. Because of this urge for keeping the traditions alive, our collections contain mostly knitted garments and waterproof outerwear. We see ourselves as the keepers of this almost lost art.

Finding your own voice is difficult, where and how do you find your personal creativity?
During the process of design, the biggest problem for me is that I get influenced too much by others and lose my own thoughts and opinions. Because of that, I would lose the focus, get confused, and lose track of my initial idea. Therefore, it is important for me to put aside other people’s opinions on what is ok and what is not during the designing process. It would always help to take a good look onto what are the things you really want to express and what is the meaning of your work. And then, just follow this idea step by step, keeping the track of your goals. I believe that all the creativity in the world hides behind the purpose of our work and lives. If you have a higher goal of your work, it becomes your inspirational source and all the creativity is just the natural need to express your belief and opinion.

What is your most favorite brand? Why? 
I love Yohji Yamamoto because of his old wisdom and longstanding vision on contemporary fashion. He is like the Gandalf of fashion industry.

"Fashion is a form of art which gives us the opportunity to express our personalities or to re-create ourselves whichever is necessary. "

What do you strive for in your work?
I want to improve the perception of how the world sees Latvian design. At the moment, the Latvian design is barely distinguished at all, but the change has already started and I want to be a part of it. Other than that, PAVILJONS strives for equality in any forms as well as the social responsibility.

What are the key factors in your design? 
Our design is produced by using the local recourses and manpower. We strive for leaving as little mess as possible after ourselves. Using high quality raw materials for knits with very little synthetic fibres added gives us the warmest and most viable result possible. For other garments, we choose to use durable, warm, low maintenance or water resistant materials. In other words, our designs are functional, comfortable and made accordingly to Northern climate inhabitant needs.

What makes your items different from others? What is your designing philosophy? 
Our designs are produced here in Latvia, no further than 30 km from our headquarters. This of course affects the prices and production quantities, but we try to keep the prices accessible for locals. We don’t see the point of having local brand if it is out of reach for the people around us. Though it is not that easy to stand strong against the mass production companies and not get lost in this enormous ocean of low cost products that keep the customer stunned and wanting it all. So we have to be different to survive and the path we have chosen is to offer the product which is manufactured with social consciousness as well as the thought of improving economics. We are happy that we get to give people jobs and keep the economy going, which is a huge deal for such a small country. Slowly but gradually people start to realise how damaging our buying behaviour has been so far. We begin to realise the value of clothing and design. As soon as we get the gasp of the idea that when we buy high quality product with higher value and durability, we get a companion for many seasons. It is important not to overthink the fashion that much. We don’t need that many clothing pieces to be stylish or whatever. High quality basics that distinguish our taste, personality and fashion sense would do just fine. We need to stick to what we like and stop wearing anything that is offered. Only that way we will finally be at peace and all the ecological mess behind this industry will start to decrease and the world will heal.

Fashion needs to progress year in year out, how do you keep innovating? 
Personally I think that this part is a bit crazy, but at the same time that’s one of the things that I love in this profession. It never lets you rest and get lazy. You must stay focused and keep your mind in working mode all the time. When you have thoughts, opinions and opposition in your mind, it naturally generates thoughts, draws conclusions and plants ideas. Some of these ideas are innovative and valid so they come to life. This is the only way for me to get genuine and authentic ideas. By using my mind, by making it sweat. In order to get something out of yourself, you must put some information in as well. That’s how our mind works. If we don’t find anything that triggers our mind or gives meaning to our work, it will end up stealing the ideas from somebody else. So my idea is that I should not let my mind wander and get bored and loose. It must be fit and entertained to generate ideas with value.

What is the contemporary condition of fashion in your place of residence? 
Contemporary fashion is at its start position. Everything connected to fashion is quite new; we don’t have any old fashion houses that go way back or large production factories still running. We used to have a quite strong fashion businesses running while we were part of Soviet Union, but with the independence and all the economical errors we could not manage to get them running by ourselves. Though world does not recognize us as a fashion country yet, there is a strong potential to change that perception. We have a lot of talented designers and lots of them have a very sustainable vision. As Latvia is so small, it makes it much easier to break free and get noticed. The biggest problem is to find the funding and solvent clients to keep the business alive. The economy is still quite harsh and people cannot afford the opportunity to choose whether to buy mass production or local clothing. So local designers must look for clients outside the boarders and find a way to diverge themselves from the fashion sharks that has been around for ages. It is hard to be a newbie in this industry, but I think we are up for a challenge.

What is your ultimate goal? What do you want to achieve with your projects? 
It is important for us to do more than just create meaningless clothing pieces in order to earn. We feel responsible for keeping this business alive. We were the first ones to open up a pop-up store in Latvia. We are the first ones to launch a fashion label under store afterwards. We are sort of pioneers in some ways here. Though it is easy to start up something new, the problem starts when you want to do it in a long term. At the moment, Latvia has a very harsh environment for success. So if we manage to keep growing and evolving, it will be a huge success story. If everything goes well, this could become a great example and boost for others who want to do something of this sort here. We want to show that with hard work you can overrun any obstacles and it is possible to succeed here in Latvia without leaving for good.

What are your views on gender categorization in fashion? Is it necessary to differentiate between male and female collections? 
From the very beginning of our existence as a store or a label (does not matter) we have had difficulty dividing the sexes. We believe that we offer clothing for people and that’s it, no more divisions. I believe that the strict separation of genders or any borders for that matter in fashion will soon disappear for good. The problem I see is that most of the unisex clothing pieces are just basics from men’s wardrobe. Unisex is quite manly rather than neutral quite often. I think we should be more daring with making unisex clothing go both directions, thereof letting it also be more feminine. Why is there a term feminine or masculine at all and why they explain a gender feature rather than individuals style? Who says that men would mind trying out the comfort of a dress or the freedom of movement in skirt without judgement? I think that the future of unisex clothing hides behind everyone wearing whatever they feel like. We have manufactured way too many clothing pieces during the past century to throw away the dresses and skirts. Either we all wear them or we up-cycle them in a way that is appealing for all sexes. I think that the future of unisex clothing hides behind everyone wearing whatever they feel like.

Do you believe the western binary gender system (male/female) will eventually disappear? 
Yes, in time. There are some strong presumptions that need to be broken about how men or women should look like. It might take a bit longer in some countries, especially those with old unbreakable traditions and beliefs. However, the change of gender perception along with many other things will eventually catch up with the new generations. We are already much more liberal and look at each other much more different than the previous generations. I believe that the following generations will bring even more relaxed attitude, with the emphases on who the person is rather than the gender of him or her. As a designer, I see the future collections gettiing much more accessible for all sexes. I feel that it is our job to find a way to create various types of garments that somehow fits everyone and not to waste any resources to designing something useless. That’s quite a task. The idea behind this collection is to tell about a group of people who are very liberal, young at heart and open in mind.

"The idea behind this collection is to tell about a group of people who are very liberal, young at heart and open in mind."

What does your collection try to communicate? 
The idea behind this collection is to tell about a group of people who are very liberal, young at heart and open in mind. Therefore the name of the collection is “Generation Y”- the generation with the responsibility to chang the world’s old perceptions as well as finding new solutions to forever lingering problems. They don’t see any borders, any divisions, races or genders. They see world as well as the fashion with a dash or humour and ease. The collection is intended for both sexes, just few of the items might be viewed as rather more feminine than unisex. The collection is fresh, diverse and the clothing pieces can be swapped between the sexes and easily combined with each other. The styles are comfortable and sporty by following the idea that design must be functional. This collection is easy going and rather simple. We would like our clients to wear whatever they want. As a part of Generation Y ourselves, we feel responsible for preserving Latvian and Nordic proficiency and heritage. Though we see our traditions in a bit different light than generations before us, we still consider them extremely valuable and necessary to preserve. Therefore we put the emphasis on knitted pieces, focusing on the need to dress appropriately for our climate. We are playing with the idea of somewhat sporty, a bit quirky and street-wear-like knitwear. As a part of Generation Y ourselves, we feel responsible for preserving Latvian and Nordic proficiency and heritage.

Why have you decided to participate at FASHIONCLASH? 
We see our participation in FASHIONCLASH as a great opportunity for communicating our design and introducing our label to wider public. This is one of our first steps that we take outside boarders to announce ourselves as a fully developed and significant brand.

Who are your target consumers? How do you define them? 
Age 25-65. No gender. No status. Open air urbanists. They value functionality and are looking for wearable design rather than just a garment. The practical side of the garment plays a crucial role. Other than that, the quality matters. People love durable and long-lasting clothing pieces which accompany them for many seasons. Not forget the warm and cosy knits that help them survive the harsh weather conditions. We love our clients because we share the same values as them. And because of them we will keep designing functional, comfortable and warm clothing.

What is your price range? 
69 – 209 euros.

How do you balance between the function of the items and the appearance of them? 
At the very beginning of the design process, the appearance is secondary, as we aim for functional clothing. First, we design all the features and make sure that the garment needs to fulfil its function. And then, we embark upon the design. Though, there are times when the design idea already comes so strong that the design itself serves a purpose. This is the greatest struggle, also the most pleasant part, to find a design in which all the features, all the seams, lines and details serve a purpose. When designing, we keep in mind the rule of form following the function. If the garments function is to withstand a blizzard, the form establishes itself. The item will have a hood, preferably longer length, waterproof shell, lightweight insulation and natural lining.

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