Featured image by Meaghan Coles , other images by Fatema Sitabkhan
Russian-born designer Katya Komarova has created her namesake label to become one of the most well-known and well-loved labels in Adelaide and South Australia since 2014. Boasting of a minimalist look with her classy accessories and clothing, Katya Komarova has incorporated her experience in the fashion industry as a model towards aiding her business to become what it is today. Being recognized in fashion shows all over the world, she has created a range of products that not only add and enhance your overall look, but also comes from sustainable, vegetable-tanned leather that is long-lasting and environmentally friendly.
As someone who is a huge fan of her accessories and clothing that is all about the femininity, minimalism, and versatility with a range of daily / casual / formal looks, I was fortunate enough to get a sneak peek of Katya’s latest collection, which made its debut at this year’s Adelaide Fashion Festival, as part of the SA Designer Showcase runway collection – have a read of our exchange below:
Tema: Who is in the team of Katya Komarova and what are their roles?
Katya: I have a few suppliers working with me here in Adelaide helping me source leather and laser-cut it. I also work with a few of TAFE SA graduates on some of my clothing items. On top of that, I have recently collaborated with one of the local artisans, which was revealed as part of this year’s AFF collection.
Tema: What are the primary elements in your designs that make you stand out from other fashion labels?
Katya: I believe, sustainability, minimalism and versatility set me apart from other designers in Australia. There are not many designers producing locally and using biodegradable material, and I am proud to be one of a few.
Tema: What are the main messages that you hope your fashion label is representing?
Katya: Buy less, wear more of what you have. Each of my accessories can be worn in so many different ways and that’s the main message behind it all. There is just too much fashion and at the end of the day, we just fall in love with one item and wear it a lot. But in order to make it look different, I have come up with interchangeable straps and handles for my bags.
Tema: Is there a reason that you’ve specifically chosen to work with vegetable-tanned leather? What are its benefits / advantages?
Katya: It’s the cleanest way of tanning leather. There are no chemicals used in the production process. This definitely helps with the life cycle of the item. It’s also a long lasting material in comparison to chrome-tanned leather.
Tema: Let’s talk about your gorgeous handbags – where did the idea of customizing their handles come from?
Katya: I just didn’t want to have many bags because I finally designed the one I really loved and I wanted it to fit all of different outfits and occasions.
Tema: How did you design on deciding what color handbags would be part of your collection?
Katya: I lost my grandmother recently. She really loved browns. So that was the first idea behind picking the colour and then I was lucky my supplier had it so in was meant to happen.
Tema: How do you think your accessories help with reducing fashion waste in the industry?
Katya: Well, firstly, by having some accessories in your wardrobe, you can simply play around more with clothes you already have and make it look different everyday. On top of that, the production process has evolved and now by using laser-cutting machines we reduce production waste as well. Also, the unused items can be reused for different purposes, as all of my new styles are stitch-free.
Tema: How do you think your label has evolved over the last 8 years (did you start marketing your designs in 2010)?
Katya: It was a different label back in 2010. I launched Katya Komarova in 2014 and it changed dramatically, in my opinion. Apart from moving all the production to Australia, the aesthetics have changed a lot as well and I am very happy to see how far it’s come.
Tema: Your new collection boasts of a pop of color, in comparison to your earlier collections, which primarily included neutral tones. What made you decide on a shift in the color scheme?
Katya: I listen a lot for my customers and see what is actually trendy and adopt it all into my new range.
Tema: What do you think is rewarding about being a small scale label in Australia
Katya: It’s definitely easier maintain my stock and control the quality. I also think it’s a good selling point these days. People want to know the story behind an item before it goes on a store shelf.
Tema: What do you think are some of the challenges about being a small scale business in Australia?
Katya: Being price-competitive.
Tema: How do you feel about being a part of AFF this year? What are you anticipating from this year’s turnout?
Katya: It’s always a great pleasure to be a part of such a major South Australian fashion event. It will be my third year and I can’t wait to see what is has in store. It is definitely a great platform for me to showcase my work. I have a lot of clients in South Australia and hope to see some of them at the runway.
Tema: What inspired you to create your unique accessories for this year’s collection?
Katya: There is a lot of geometry and simple lines. I want my designs to be clean and easy to be worn by a modern woman so I absolutely watch out for how women dress and try to adjust my designs to what I see.
Tema: How is your latest collection different / unique from your previous collections?
Katya: New colours, more mature shapes and, yes, there is a lot of consistency from my previous work, as some items have become real hits, like the bucket bag.
Tema: What do you hope for your customers to experience, when they buy your gorgeous accessories / clothing / hand bags?
Katya: I want them to wear my items everyday and make them feel special, unique. I also want the to feel good about wearing smarter fashion. My items are very meaningful in terms of materials and production and we all should be proud by making difference and choosing something better than fast fashion.
Tema: When you release your products by the collection, what keeps you motivated during the planning process? How do you keep challenging yourself in a creative medium?
Katya: Some rest helps, but also keeping myself in the loop of what else is happening around in the fashion industry motivates me a lot. And exhibitions, of course.
Tema: What are your plans post-AFF? There’s a rumor going around that you might be moving interstate? Will you be returning back to Adelaide if that’s the case (for visits / appearances)?
Katya: Yes, I am moving to Sydney and don’t know when and if I will be back. I have my core stakeholders here, so there are a lot of reasons to be back on a regular basis. Will see.
Tema: Is there anything else that you’d like your customers / our readers to know about your label?
Katya: I would like to say a big Thank You to everyone who has been and keeps supporting what I do. It would be very different without my amazing customers and brand admirers. It keeps me going and I promise to bring more and more amazing designs so stay tuned!