PROTEZKA: Give Punk Diplomacy a Chance!

Me, watching the runway show live at CLEC in Valencia:

This is very cute. Is punk allowed to be this cute? Maybe this is post-punk!

My students, rewatching the show online at IFA Paris:

We love the self-referential irony! We can’t get enough of upcycled denim!

Designer Alina Firtas:

Protest is the original sustainable lifestyle!¡Viva la Revolución!

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This November, Protezka was one of three emerging brands invited as a case study for the Fashion Media Management MBA seminar at the International Fashion Academy in Paris (full report). Students had an opportunity to practice collection reviews, interview the designer, and curate a small exhibition/shoot on the Quai de la Marne campus. Here are our discoveries.

Protezka debuted during the Fashion United for Peace showcase at CLEC Fashion Festival which celebrated Ukrainian talent in the Valencian region, both those of the longtime diaspora and those who found refurge here recently. “I identify as an artist first. Having lived in different places has enriched me. Together, the Ukrainian and Spanish cultures taught me the most beautiful things in life. But my heart will always be with Ukraine,” shared Alina. The DIY aesthetic in the garments echoes both the ingeniuty of teenagers in young democracies who turn everyday elements into symbols of independence as well as the whimsical luxury of Vivienne Westwood, Gaultier and other members of the enfant terrible fashion club. She was working on a collection when Russia invaded Ukraine. “It affected me a lot. I had a creative block, because it was (and is) very hard to see my homeland suffering. Eventually, I was able to transform that pain through fashion. I want to give it a steeled voice as a protest.”

How did the brand Protezka begin and what does its name mean?

I’ve wanted to have my own brand, but I couldn’t find a name. Despite having spent more than half my life in Spain, I always felt my Ukrainian roots very strongly. Protezka is my mother’s maiden name; she is my example to follow. The name represents the deepest part of me and the woman who inspires me: strong, independent, unique.

How would you describe Protezka style?

The style is authentic, personal, somewhat dark/punk, revolutionary, daring. My brand is the message that I would like to send to the world, and clothing is a way of transmitting it to anyone who identifies with it. Bold, happy, crazy people who choose to live life their own way.

So what is Protezka’s vision and mission?

Today the fashion industry is the second most polluting in the world, we are not aware of what it is costing the planet. As a designer and a person, it is something that worries me. Our mission is to make society aware of wasteful consumption and make Protezka as sustainable as possible. 80% of the collection has been made from recycled fabrics. I get the materials from second-hand stores, markets, and friends and family who donate clothes they no longer use. Our vision is to demonstrate that unique and fashionable garments can be created this way.

What is your earliest fashion memory?

I was five years old when I saw a fashion show on television. I only have blurry images in my memory now, but I remember clearly that I became fascinated. I understood that how I dress will define who I am and my personality. From that day on, I said I wanted to make clothes.

How has fashion shaped you as a person and a creative professional?

I always really liked punk and rock; my way of dressing was related to my musical tastes. It took my family a while to accept it, but in the end, the most important thing is to know who you are. The A Project collection is about the struggle of values inspired by my personal growth in adolescence. It is the creative consequence of all the events and people that made me who I am now.

How would you describe your creative process?

There is almost always a brainstorm that never stops in my head. Although there are exceptions, I try to follow the process of extracting ideas and drawing stylistic codes to design everything step by step. Otherwise, that’s how mental blocks are born and it can be a disaster.

Are there design elements you want to become associated with Protezka?

I would love it to be graffiti. My brand is characterized by its messages reflected in the garments. Fashion as a form of criticism of society, and so is graffiti. In the future, I will surely collaborate with graffiti artists and musicians, because they also have a way of creating their revolutions.

What are your brand goals for 2023?

I would like to continue producing unique and sustainable garments and making noise… You know, creating a revolution!

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IFA Paris students were fortunate to work with a graffiti manifesto dress generously provided by the brand. “Not only was being introduced to Protezka interesting and insightful, but also useful for our future endeavors in fashion communications,” noted MBA candidate Patricija Eglite from Latvia. As the designer begins to chart her own trajectory embracing the rebellious aspects of her formative cultures, we are reminded of another seeming struggle of values. Literary punk of his era, Dostoyevsky once enigmatically claimed that beauty will save the world. This theory begins to crumble the moment you turn on the news from the Ukrainian frontlines. On the other hand, anthropoligist Margaret Mead is oft credited with the reminder that only “a group of committed individuals” has ever changed/saved the world. Watching the news of heroic Ukrainian resistance, one cannot help but say, “I’m with her!” The world needs more Protezka spirit to win this revolution again and again…

Check out this CLEC backstage video to upgrade the mood into a whole vibe!

If you enjoy my projects, encourage me via Buy Me Coffee or Patreon

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