If you went to Lokal over the past few weeks, then you may have seen her one-of-a-kind pieces in black, white, and beige. Lokal is delighted to introduce you to slow-fashion designer Veronika Vimpelova and make you discover the story behind her eponymous label. A journey from the Czech Republic to Brussels.
If you ask the designer behind Vimpelova why she chose her family name as her label name, the answer took us back to Madrid Fashion week 2014. Back then, Veronika just graduated in fashion design from the prestigious ESDEMGA at the University of Vigo in Spain. “I had to come up with a brand name for the fashion week. So for my birthday, a friend gave me my new business card for my brand with my name. It was spontaneous (laugh).”
It was a decision that fitted her first collection perfectly, as it was inspired by the Czech designer’s heritage and roots. She still has some pieces in her atelier installed on the premises of Mad Brussels. She moved to Belgium in 2019 after living in London for nearly eight years, thus becoming one of the first fashion designers in residence there. Or at least the first designing clothes.
The garments are set up on mannequins and clothes racks, next to the machines and rolls of fabric. Among them, many references to the Austro-Hungarian army uniforms and folklore. Such as this blueprint indigo that reminds her of an apron her grandmother used to wear. A connection, yes, but with a modern twist and more sober pieces.
Family and craftsmanship are at the heart of Veronika’s work. It also led her to the path she took. The tall woman with the bobbed haircut and blue eyes takes us back to her childhood in Ostrava, the third-biggest city in the country. “We couldn’t afford to buy nice clothing. My mom would get fabrics and make clothes for the whole family on special occasions. I wanted to be old enough to use her sewing machine. The first time I tried was a nightmare! Nothing was straight, and I wanted to make it perfect. A character trait or “a curse”, as she describes it, that she has kept ever since.
According to the Brussels-based designer, both her grandmas played a significant role in her choice to persevere in fashion. The one on her mother’s side was a professional seamstress. By day, she was teaching sewing and dressmaking. By night, she worked for her bespoke studio, making dresses for the wealthier ladies in town. “I just remember running around in her atelier, checking at the fabrics, her mannequin,” she recounts. And if her paternal grandmother was not working in clothing, her hobbies were all about it. “I inherited a huge among of boxes full of embroidery threads and fabrics she got at the factory she worked for. Now I am following my grandmother’s example for keeping everything in a cabinet until I find a good project for it.”
Her path to sustainable and slow fashion
If today her creations are made from natural or organic-certified fabrics, Veronika took a few years to be fully aware of the social and environmental issues with the fashion industry. She dug into it in 2015 when she was still living in London. Two years after the 2013 Dhaka garment factory collapse. At that time, she juggled between her part-time freelance work for costume companies and her work for several clothing brands. “I realised how much waste there is. Plus, some labels use materials that you don’t even want to put on your skin. So switching to slow fashion gave me more purpose, primarily because I doubted if I was in the right industry. “
Timeless pieces designed for longevity
Veronika had quite a journey from when she first started to learn pattern cutting and garment construction in High school in the Czech Republic. And with Vimpelova, she aims to bring more than just fashion into the industry.
Sustainability is a commitment, and the organic-certified fabrics she uses may also play an essential role in this ambition. Even though it might restrain her: “When you are a small brand, the length, the colours, the prints you can buy are limited. That’s why I chose a very minimal colour palette.” To stand out, she imagines and realises unique details, often inspired by the place she calls home or by her experiences in costume making. It is a stamp that follows her throughout her work, like the great embroidered corset inspired by the book from the illustrator for children, Ota Janeček. Even if the references in the selection you can find at Lokal might be more subtle, mixed with the techniques she has learned along the way.
Because the 35-year-old designer and her assistant Amy Grosse are only manufacturing small quantities, they take care of each step of the production. The result is surprising: sustainable garments made of a variation of cotton, poplin, linen, or silk—a blend between contemporary clothing and elegance from another era, evoking a certain nostalgia. One thing is sure: you won’t see cuts like this often.
A new release
She confided that she plans to make new pieces and experiment with another approach. “I want to use the leftover fabrics from my last collection and make more garments out of them in the same collection style. I have contacted an Italian lady whose parents owned a fashion brand. The idea is to use these fabrics waiting in the dark and finally give them their purpose.” She aims to conceive a small collection, and why not add a few colours. In the meantime, the selection we have in store will be displayed on our second floor for another month. We can only advise you to keep an eye on Veronika’s exquisite garments.