XZOUIX was born behind the Iron Curtain in 1986, in a country of Czechoslovakia deformed by normalization and visually molded by functionalism. From an early age, she observed her surroundings from a safe distance, curiously watching the world with wonder until she decided to shape it. Her love for nature and design has led her to become a fashion designer specializing in zero-waste design. XZOUIX is not only a person; it’s also a product resulting from the work of XZOUIX. It’s a garment or an object in which a zero-waste design principle merges with a juxtaposition of asymmetry and symmetry, deconstruction, and minimalism. It’s a human, and it’s a thing, and it’s a mood.
It’s a long coat or a dress that flows around your body in a certain way and a mood that comes with it. It is just as particular as elegance of darkness, aesthetics of brutalism and transparence of functionalism. Watch it move. Let the garment whisper and flow. And follow along.
XZOUIX resides in private collections and wardrobes across the world. It has been shown in a number of national and international events, fashion shows, competitions, and exhibitions like Designblok in Prague, Czech Republic; Aspen AIDS benefit fashion show in Telluride, Colorado and at the international Arts of Fashion Symposium in San Francisco, California.
Sassy & Co Magazine recently caught up with XZOUIX to discuss her journey in the fashion industry and here’s what went down:
How did you get into the fashion industry?
I studied fashion design at the School of Applied Arts in Ruzomberok. They taught me everything about the garment-making process, from r&d through garment construction to perfectly tailored custom garments. Later on, I continued my studies at the Academy of Fine Arts and Design in Bratislava, where I got my Master of Arts degree.
What do you like most about being a designer?
The creative freedom.
Downside to being a fashion designer?
My brain is always in work mode. XZOUIX is a one-woman operation, which means I do everything from design and product development to sewing and post-production, including photography, website, and even marketing by myself, so going to sleep or taking a weekend off is often unthinkable. I am still learning to master the work/life balance and take a pause when I need it because I like what I do, and I always get inspired. My teachers used to say that my mind is a river.
The inspiration just never stops coming.
What has been the most memorable experience of being in the fashion industry so far?
Having the opportunity to travel around the world to show my fashion collections and seeing happy customers wearing my designs with confidence, beautifully matched with a smile on their faces.
Who have been the most interesting people you’ve met so far?
People who love their work; the ones that are willing to pass the knowledge and share their creative drive. I love and admire that kind of energy because it makes sense and inspires me always to be moving forward.
What has been the most valuable lesson you’ve learned while in the fashion industry. This can be about the industry or about yourself.
No deadline is too tight. I learned always to take chances and never pass the opportunity to learn something new.
Is your family supportive of you being a fashion designer?
I can’t say they are supportive, but they are definitely patient.
If you could go back in a time machine to the time when you were just getting started, what would you do differently?
Nothing, really. However, I would tell myself to follow my instinct and learn to recognize which idea is worth investing in and when to quit and move on to a fresh start. With the constant flow of inspiration that I have, no sheet of paper stays blank for too long anyway.
What is the best advice you have ever been given?
Learn to say “no.”
What are your future plans? Inside your career or out of it.
I am slowly transitioning from avant-garde fashion to designing functional clothing for motorcyclists. The paths we take in our careers rarely go smooth and straight as planned, but with open eyes and an “always inspired” attitude, even an unexpected detour on the road to the imaginary top can become an adventure with the potential to change our perspective forever. And in my case, keeping my eyes and mind open led to changing my career’s destination from shiny fashion runways to well-weathered back roads discovered on two wheels.
I used to tell myself I should keep a distance between my design work and my other passions. Now that I’ve outgrown my teenage ambitions of unbound creativity and came to understand that my personal life and my work are always going to blend into one, I decided that the motorcyclist in me should be given more space to express herself more freely. I allowed myself to start building a second brand that will cater to the community I feel I belong to. And what better way to spend more time among motorcycles and like-minded people than creating protective gear for motorcycle riders?
I had already found true meaning in recycling fabrics and leather, so with this, I am allowing myself to truly put my effort into something bigger than the need to create. Caring about the motorcyclist’s safety and at the same time giving a second (or third) life to leather means so much more!
A “good design” is well thought out and leaves no negative environmental trace when it’s done. That is why XZOUIX aims to follow a “zero waste” design path. And yes, I know that leather = murder. Just let me explain why leather at XZOUIX matters and, in fact, the purpose driving XZOUIX forward. Leather at XZOUIX is strictly salvaged leather. It is either manually recycled leather or leftover leather, donated to me as a gesture of support from people who know my work. Animals shouldn’t be “raised” only to serve the purpose of becoming pieces of mass-produced clothing, be it fashion garments or functional clothing such as motorcycle jackets, etc.
Recycling materials like abandoned leather is an idea that goes beyond a creative need and design love; it is what gives a sense to what I do. Over the years, I worked with different materials and media, but only recycling fabrics, particularly leather, gave me a deeper sense of purpose. We all need a purpose, especially when it comes to work. If I learned something from the world we live in, caring about the world we live in should correspond with creating the world we live in. I believe that whenever I save at least a few animals or a piece of cow by lowering the demand for new material, I help create a better and more lively environment. This is my purpose and a trace I want to leave.