Fashion

London Calling: Interview with Petar Petrov

Austrian designer Petar Petrov has chosen the British capital for his debut on the international fashion scene. Why Vienna might even be a possible venue for the future and how he deals with the current changes in the industry, is just some of the news he reveals exclusively to L’Offciel Austria.
Reading time 6 minutes
A portrait of designer Petar Petrov.

Why did you choose the British capital for your debut instead of Milan or Paris?

Actually, our biggest partners were in London from the beginning, so the UK was a comfortable choice for us. We also decided to go to a place where creativity and new proposals are very openly received. London Fashion Week is known for its creativity, and people there have an eye for finding new things.

What about next year? Will you stay in London?

At the moment, our biggest problem is that the entire structure of the fashion industry is changing. We don’t know if anything is going to be presented in the same form as before. Saint Laurent recently announced that they will not show this year, and they are still to decide on their form of presentation. I hope everything gets back to normal soon, but I think people are starting to reevaluate what we were doing.

Yes, it’s true. We should be adaptive, take it easier, and develop in other directions.

Yes, even structurally, because our company has grown very quickly for the last two to three years. We have had so much demand for our products, and we have had to produce up to four collections a year. I hope that people will go back to the notion that less is more. Actually, I think it’s good that the fashion industry has slowed down. That was also one of the reasons we decided to go to London, as things are a bit slower there and not as hectic. Perhaps next time we will go to Vienna! So, let’s see.

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The London design scene includes Richard Quinn and Ed Marler, whose work is considered to be very rebellious and non-conformist. How do you see yourself in comparison?

During London Fashion Week we stood out because our collection was elegant and reflected the street style in London. We design for the customer, and I think people love that. I don’t see any competition because our products are different, for totally different occasions.

What inspired you to create your fall/winter 20/21collection, and can you give us some insights regarding the materials and techniques?

We always say that every collection is part of a woman’s journey. This season is more about quiet colors with interesting silhouettes that are modern at the same time. We used materials that also feel a bit more timeless, often with bold textures, but in very high-end materials. We focused on two categories: knitwear and outerwear. Our new coats are more fitted, have a tighter silhouette, with a more relaxed shoulder. I wanted to create something that feels softer but is still strong.

Does this only apply to this season or do you have a new focus for your work?

Every season we look for new challenges. I am inspired by paintings, by colors. I work quite intuitively, and it is always about what we have learned previously. How do we want to challenge ourselves this time? Every season we see what we can do better, and what we also feel is relevant for us. I think fashion has a psychological aspect: what does a woman want? People want to be surprised, and this is our job as designers.

Previously, we needed a lot of dresses and clothes, and perhaps now this is no longer relevant. 

I need to reflect on what will happen now. Will we go back to normal, or will everything be different? I think we were lucky with the season that we just showed in London. We focused a lot on daily wear, which is perfect for today’s environment. I feel that it is important for us to look elegant from day to night. It doesn’t have to be an in-your-face elegance -sometimes it’s just about the right combination of pieces.

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Petar Petrov`s FW 2020 Show

You were born in Ukraine, grew up in Bulgaria, and have been living in Vienna since your studies. Which design elements of each culture do you incorporate in your work?

I feel that my designs are a culmination of all my past experiences. I grew up in socialist Bulgaria where almost nothing was accessible. We all had the same things, and individuality wasn’t something that people appreciated. I think growing up there gave me a push to be creative and taught me how to make something out of nothing. In Austria, there is more classic elegance, which is so interesting. It’s a culmination of everything, my background, and all my surroundings. I have strong opinions and a strong sense of individuality.

From Moda Operandi to Bergdorf Goodman – your brand is now listed at some very exclusive retailers. What challenges does this pose to you as a smaller label?

We are honored to work with all of our esteemed partners, the latest of which is Bergdorf Goodman. Our first partner that believed in our product was Net-a-Porter and they propelled our label to a different level straight away. In the beginning, we did everything ourselves, and there were a lot of challenges for a young brand because we needed to prove ourselves, we needed to be better than the others, and our products had to sell. It was a journey. And we had to convince the top retailers that our products are good enough. It is also challenging to sustain our very high quality. I never thought that design work was going to be so much talking and explaining the brand!

What is coming up next for your brand?

We want to create our own retail space! We’d like to be present online and have our own stores. Most of our customers know our products through the retailers, so it’s important for us to now tell the story of our brand ourselves. 

Photo: Petar Petrov

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