Ester Kubisz’s luxury brand, emerging in London, has pieces inspired the untraditional and focused on redefining tailored garments. We caught up with the designer for a chat about, inspiration, style and her growing success.
First, tell us a bit about yourself and how you began your label.
Well about myself, I’m from Prague, I came here [London] to study, at Ravensbourne. I really loved my third year basically, so that’s how it started. I did loads of internships; I did about four or five internships during my studies and I just got sick of it. I just couldn’t see myself working for anyone else. I enjoyed the third year so much because I worked on my own collection and I was like ‘yeah I love this!’
How does an idea turn into a final product?
Ah yeah, this is a funny question. It’s like… it depends really, it also depends on the garment a lot. Now everything is developing from the first collection. I’m kind of like playing with the same ideas, to keep the consistency and figure things out still. But yeah… with those pieces, like the pinstripes and embroidery, I just rework it in a different way. Then you have types of garments where I just get an idea like oh this could look fun and I don’t like dwelling, so I’ll just do it and I’m like okay I guess… yeah, that’s fine, that works. So I have times where I know what I’m doing, I sketch it, then you have to drape it and try again and again and again. Then there are ideas or like types of ideas where I just think oh, how would that look? And I’ll just do it and be like okay, that’s how it looks… fine. So it’s not a final idea when it starts, I just work on it, so once I get a final I’m like okay, so that was the idea.
I don’t know if you’ve seen my AW17, with the falling off pieces, it was pretty straightforward, having a jacket that I wanted to look like it had parts falling off, so you can see the shirt or whatever underneath. I just had to work out how it would work from the technical side. But now SS18, I did some… for example, there is this tunic, it’s like a dress but then it’s held with ribbon in different places, so it creates an asymmetrical, really weird shape. That’s one of the ideas where I thought let’s try this, I have no idea what it will look like in the end but let’s just do it and if it doesn’t look completely wrong then yeah, stick to it.
What changed for you after winning Fashion Scouts ‘One to Watch’ SS17?
I think it definitely brought a little but more attention, yeah some attention and more press attention and stuff, so that was great. But on the big scale there is still so much work that needs to be done, that I don’t know maybe… it was definitely… it was really great but there is so much more that needs to be done. It’s not like you win Fashion Scout and now you’re sorted. It helps you a little bit but you still have to put in a lot of work.
What’s the best bit about your job?
That I get to do a lot of different things. So, you’re not stuck doing one thing. Right now I’m researching fabrics for the next collection, then you have to start designing, there’s always something. You do two months on one thing, another two months you do another thing, then you get to prototyping so it’s a bit more hand work. Then you get to promotion, so you have to think of the marketing side of things. So I get to do everything. That’s what keeps it fun for me I guess because if I had to do, say, just designing, I don’t think I’d enjoy it. Or if I had to do just marketing I would not enjoy that at all.
It’s probably good you have your own brand so you can do all those things!
Yeah, it gets really tiring. I’ve started working with a brand communications company now, so they are helping me out with the bits that I really don’t like.
What’s the hardest part of your job?
It just gets really tiring. The hardest bits are probably promotions, like PR and sales, that’s just like ugh… you have to figure out so much. That’s why I started working with the guys [Brand Communication Company] and hopefully, it starts picking up soon.
You’ve described your brand as ‘edgy’, but as a word used plenty nowadays, to describe many things out of the ordinary, what does ‘edgy’ mean to you?
I remember this was for a description for the graduate collection look book, it was with my back-then boyfriend, so he wrote the text and I was like Oh my God, this sounds awful but back then I was so busy I couldn’t think of it, I was like let’s just go with it, everyone will forget, that’s fine. [Laughs]
Well, it is edgy! I would say your brand is edgy, but would you like to describe what it means to you?
I think yeah… if I’m linking it to the brand, I think I would say, it’s the fact that it’s [the collections] very wearable but quite interesting in the detail. The pieces are quite extravagant but in the detail. You know you can get edgy brands that do big, big, big stuff and some diluted pieces on the side that are for sale, whereas I see most the garments from my collection as already wearable – but not boring.
Why did you decide to focus on menswear?
It first started because of tailoring. I love tailoring and I love hand work. When we first started studying suits and how you make a suit, there’s so much work put in it and you have to be so patient, to make it really beautiful and nice. All the hand stitching that comes with it, it’s just like that’s what really interests me. Also the form; it’s a lot of work and it’s very logical, whereas womenswear is always so like shove something on a mannequin, drape it a little bit here and there, that’s it. I mean that’s how I’ve always viewed it. The interest in suits and men’s work attire, that’s where it all started I’d say. But I’m trying to style it on both because I don’t think about ‘menswear’ or ‘womenswear’, like come on.
Yeah, I’ve seen you use both [male and female] models.
Exactly, I started modelling the women’s, like the female part of it myself to be the brand face, so we’ll see how that works.
Has any particular person helped you or inspired you along the way?
Yeah, it’s not really a particular person but how it all started. I went to this exhibition, it was Fiona Benner and Mistah Kurtz. It was in uh… a gallery in Hoxton… PEER Gallery! They had an exhibition there and it was all about city workers, so they did a little video and she did some drawings to it. There was a lot of pinstripes and she worked it, recreated it in a really interesting sort of way. If you get a chance to look at it, after you see it then see my graduate collection and probably the following collection, it clicks and it will make a lot more sense. Well, maybe not a lot more but you will see that that’s my inspiration. So not really a particular person but those two I guess.
Does your personal style also align with your brand?
Sometimes, slightly. If I’m working in the studio then I’ll just wear like all black, jeans. I think it kind of does in a way, even if I don’t wear my stuff but now I finally can because my first collection was stolen, so I couldn’t wear it.
Yeah from a fashion show in Edinburgh [Laughs]. I know, huh. They told me they were transporting it from the venue to backstage, to put it somewhere else and they left it unattended on the street for a bit. Then three suitcases went missing, with other people’s stuff as well. So it was a bit strange. Now I finally have some clothes and samples I can wear, so that’s pretty fun!
What’s next for you? Can we expect any big changes?
Very big. I’m thinking about colour. I know right, wow. So we will see how that works out. That’s the biggest think I think. There are a load of things we speak about with the Brand Communication’s I am working with at the moment. We might do some little events around London Fashion Week, not to be a part of like Fashion Scout Hall but do more concerts, invite some brands, they will wear the clothes and do little lounge/gig sort of things. So that’s what we are talking about – little projects and then colour. Yesterday I went to a fabric fair where I spent a lot of time. I saw it all in colour; I’m a bit scared.
I know, it’s getting a bit dull with like a grey all the time. When I was little or 15, 16, 17, I used to wear so much, it was crazy. Pink and yellow and orange, then turquoise tights and bright, red, big shoes. That was me, really bright. Then I moved here [London] and it was less and less and less, as I was getting busier and busier and busier.
But matches! All black matches [Laughs]
Interviewed by: Jessica Saunders