Maria Glück has made quite the impression in the past year. She has been travelling nonstop from event to event, including Fashion Clash Maastricht, where we here at So Catchy! Where Fashion Beginswere given the opportunity to talk with the ambitious designer. With three high-end collections, her background in sculpture and visual arts and a studio in Berlin where her assistant helps her cut wood, the intriguing Maria Glück gives us her take on sustainable fashion.
So Catchy!: When and why did you start making fashion?
Maria Glück: I studied art at the Fine Arts School in Bilbao, but I always had this interest in fashion. I was doing sculpture, but I did an exchange program in Berlin for two semesters at a Fashion School. The school was very technical and the way of working was quite rigid, but they allowed me to work freely. After one year in Berlin I went to New York and I worked at the Brooklyn Museum, where I was working as a photographer for several projects. When I returned I won a prize for a video project, for which I was doing the clothes, and I really enjoyed it. I wanted to go back to sculpture, but I really loved working with fabrics. That’s when I decided: I’m going to do a collection and see what happens. That’s how it started and before I knew it, I was selected for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid.
SC!: How do you integrate sustainability in your work?
MG: All the materials I like, for instance wood and rope, I integrate into fashion. I like things to have a texture and a presence. I don’t like to manipulate it excessively. The press always wants to label you, but when someone says ‘eco-fashion’, I’m like: I don’t do eco-fashion. I have my own interpretation of sustainability. I’m interested in design, and sustainability is the way I do it, but I also use prints and synthetics so it’s not 100% organic. I have done a lot of research on fabrics and materials, but not just organic ones. But I’m very interested in traditional materials and techniques. For instance, in the collection ‘Howl’ (‘I like the sounds of animals’) I use Portuguese wood, which is produced in a small area. My approach to these materials is recognized as Northern European or Scandinavian. Some people say my use of rope reminds them of something violent or the ocean, referring to the Marines. But to me it doesn’t refer to anything particular, I just like the color and the texture. But I enjoy that people interpret it in so many different ways.
SC!: Is ‘the city girl’ what you keep in mind when you’re designing, especially if she has to survive the brutal winters of Berlin?
MG: Haha, I guess partly. I like the idea that fabrics are something to touch, you want to feel it on your skin. And you want it to give you the idea that the clothes are ‘holding you’. But I also like the idea of putting shorts in a winter collection, to play around a bit. I don’t really think, ‘who is this person I want to dress?’ I have a dress in my collection with a rope in the back, which for me ideally would be worn by boys. I love a skirt for boys. My collection is quite unisex, so sometimes a female model wears something a male model could also wear.
I like how winters are in Berlin, they’re really quiet. Summer changes the entire city, the days are very long, everyone is happy and outside on the streets. In terms of color, I get really affected by the seasons. I like big cities, but as a designer I love to integrate nature, which is kind of a contradiction.
SC!: You have been travelling a lot and showed your work at different events. Has this affected your career as a young designer?
MG: At Madrid Fashion Week I was selected for the ‘young designers’ program. Doing a show is not ‘industry’; you can do anything, you’re taken care of and you build up a relationship with other designers. I also did a show during Paris Fashion Week and that was different. We were approaching the stores and there was a lot more competition. The stores only have a certain amount of time to see you. Then there are events like Fashion Clash Maastricht, where graduates and young designers come together and you meet people from different industries. In a way Fashion Clash is more challenging than Fashion Week, because of the amount of talented, willing young designers. They push you to move forward with your own idea and concept. In the beginning as a young designer it’s hard, the costs of fashion are very high. It’s very important that a city or a region supports young designers, because they gain a lot from the industry and a brand. But in order to achieve that, you have to invest. Most cities are investing in Fashion Week and it’s good that they do shows, but they should try harder to create a platform for young fashion designers and get them in touch with stores. This way, customers can have a direct relationship with young designers.
SC!: What are your plans for the future?
MG: After 4 collections and a lot of work, I’ve decided to take my time with the next collection. Following the industry’s schedule, so quickly and being a small enterprise, is complicated. I’ve been lucky to be able to talk to many different designers and it seems to be a common problem.
What I really need is time to develop concepts and ideas and research more materials. When you are your creative team and the manager, press agent, logistics… it makes it difficult.
My atelier was part of a collective, an artist association project in Berlin. And the building was bought a few years ago and we had to leave. In some way, this motivated me to make the decision to wait on the next collection and not do SS15. I’ve got a lot of ideas and drawings that I would like to develop with more detail. This is the second important point, the detail and quality that I want to work with requires a smaller, stronger collection and that’s what I’m doing.
I want to spend time on all of the details and work with other people. I think collaborations are a positive thing, the right combination of creative people can produce wonderful things. And I wouldn’t say no to working with a firm or fashion house.
I’m open to many things and taking a logical step forward! So I can come out with a collection with great designs.
I’ll also be in Vogue Talents Italia 2014 with HOWL, which is a good thing too!
To learn more about Maria and her collections, check out her website.
Interview and photos backstage at FashionClash Maastricht courtesy of Ela Colak for So Catchy!
Layout and translation by Michael Padilla