Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Fashion with IMRECZEOVÁ

By Annabelle Schmitt 

People tend to get caught up in the “what ifs” of life and never take a leap of faith and pursue their passions. Zdenka, the designer from Prague behind IMRECZEOVA, is an example of the amazing things that can happen if you take that leap of faith and refuse to give up on your passions. Zdenka’s love for what she does, combined with her work ethic and refusal to give up, makes her an amazing role model for not only those looking to become a designer but to pursue their dreams.

What does fashion mean to you? What made you decide to go into it?

I see fashion as part of one’s life approach and attitude. In my view, clothes should simply underline the personality of the wearer and give him confidence and comfort over the entire day. When it comes to fashion designing, I believe in simple but strong concepts, clean shapes, and silhouettes, perfect tailoring, and devotion to detail.

What was it like starting your own brand? Did you always imagine you’d have your own fashion line?

I started in 2007 during my last year of studies at the Academy of Arts, Architecture, and Design in Prague. I always felt I would like to start my own label from scratch, so I just followed my dream. The first years were not easy, but the hard work was the best “school” I could get. I had to wear many hats in both the business and design fields, which was exhausting and challenging at the same time. However, it gave me confidence in many aspects of the fashion industry. Today, I run a small team of people devoted to the brand in the same way that I am. Together, we strive to develop the brand further.

What made you take the leap and launch your brand?

In the very beginning, when I was still a student, it was more about custom-made tailoring than a real brand. I realized very quickly that was not what I was longing for. Step by step, I switched to producing. I started with limited collections and quickly switched to the regular two seasons system. However, it was, of course, more demanding in terms of production and resources… and brought me numerous sleepless nights.

The crucial point was when I realized I couldn’t manage everything by myself. I had to learn how to delegate responsibilities and actually manage other people. It is impossible to run the brand without a well-balanced team.

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Were there any moments when you doubted yourself? How long did those persist? When did they finally go away, or do they ever come back?

These moments come back with every single collection. You are so immersed in the subject when creating a new collection that sometimes, you just miss the view from above and doubt your own work. When this happens, you just have to carry on, stick to your brand’s DNA and do the best you can. There are compromising moments in everything you do in life, but I believe mistakes are here to give us a lesson and lead us closer to perfection.

You’ve received a number of awards. Of which are you most proud and why?

I am honestly very happy about every award or nomination I get. It is flattering and definitely supports my will to work further. However, the awards are neither the most important part of my job nor the goal I have in mind when designing new collections. I am flattered in the same way when a customer tells me or writes me about how great she feels in my clothes and that she never wants to take them off. That is probably the greatest satisfaction I can get.

Do you think any of those awards marked your “big break” into the fashion world? If not, what did, or are you still waiting for that “big break”?

The Czech market is very limited; therefore, even though I am very grateful that the work I love is paying my bills, the “big break” for me would be expanding our brand internationally. At this point, we still have plenty of steps to take and are waiting for our “big break”.

Your clothing is beautiful and elegant, yet simple and oftentimes loose fitting. Why this kind of style? From where do you draw inspiration for it?

I have always been fascinated by Japanese culture and fashion. In high school, Issey Miyake was the first fashion designer who mesmerized me. Miyake is a conceptualist whose work with form and human body I find astonishing. I also admire Yohji Yamamoto, whose work I feel the combination of sport and traditional Japanese culture in. The purity and cleanliness of Japanese culture and its traditional clothing, mainly kimonos, is somehow present in every single collection of my brand, but of course, my brand is also strongly influenced by European touch and has my personal signature.

What are the biggest changes you’ve seen in yourself and your clothing since launching IMRECZEOVA? How has your clothing line evolved alongside you?

With years of good and bad experiences, the style of the brand has been united and cleaned. I feel that the line is more consistent and recognizable; the brand’s DNA can more easily be defined. We make comfortable clothes, minimalist with interesting and significant details. The collections arise one from another. There is a clear link and designer’s signature and I hope good balance between creativity and business. I believe this is why our clients recognize and respond to our clothing line.

What’s next for IMRECZEOVÁ?

We are working on our SS18 collection. Apart from the usual steps, such as developing the main inspiration and concept, sketching and sourcing fabrics, etc. we are also thinking about closer cooperation with a jewelry designer for this collection, which, if it finally happens, would be something very new for us.

From a business point of view, we are constantly looking for new selling channels and for a foreign showroom to represent our brand internationally and help us grow further.

Tell us something about life as a designer that most people don’t know.

I think most people imagine designers as always full of ideas. In fact, it is not a matter-of-course to have inspiration. In my case, I need a few hours of solitude every day for the inspiration to come. I like to get up very early and have some time just for myself as a sort of meditation when you don’t speak, go for a quick walk while the city still sleeps and let the thoughts flow. On the other hand, it is also very important to meet people of other professions and be aware of current events, not only in fashion but also in music, movies, sport, lifestyle, and food, etc. That all influences one’s opinion of our times and is reflected in designers’ signatures.

If you weren’t a fashion designer, what you be instead?

I would probably have my own café. I am a huge coffee drinker and lover. I worked 6 years as a barista when I was a student and I now live in Prague district with possibly the densest network of cafés. When I have some time for myself, I love to spend it with a cup of good coffee.