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Words Martin Mitchell

From London, we are happy to present Central Saint Martins alumni Martina Spetlova. With a background in chemistry, the experimental designer infuses her designs with science through shape-, texture- and color experiments. Above all, her leatherwork has seen her innovatively challenge the norms of materials since she started collaborating directly with leather tanneries to fully manipulate the leather's textural appearance.

Martina tries her best to adhere to ethical criteria of zero waste production as she precision cuts her leather using CNC machines and in addition reuses her excess material. Moreover, she sources the best possible material ensuring high quality to enhance the lifespan of her products. To add to her ethical ethos, Martina works closely with a group of skilled female artisans that are part of a refugee charity project in the Netherlands.

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Inspiration is mostly sought in the world of art or drawn from her background in science. For example, her SS/18 collection was inspired by Beverly Semmes' hand painted magazine collage entitled the Feminist Responsibility Project. From this Martina interpreted the color scheme of the collage into her own universe. For this collection, she was also selected by Swarovski to include their newly launched ethnic crystal into her work. This resulted in Martina developing a technique to hot fix the recycled crystals onto her leather pieces.

Continous experimentation is at the core of Martina's design DNA, something evident in her latest attempt at perfecting her signature woven leather technique. For this, she has expanded the technique to include a bonding of cotton onto the weaving. This she hopes will open new territories to her brand that already works with manipulating fabrics to test the boundaries of what is possible. Among other techniques used by Martina are patchwork and hand painted features all tied together by a bold use of color.

Above all, Martina Spetlova is a designer constantly looking to challenge the conventional use of materials and manipulation of those. We like Martina because of her unconventional vision of what ethical fashion can be. It opposes the idea that ethics equal minimal designs, traditional silhouettes, and low-key color use. Instead, she displays a playfulness paired with great crafting skills that we enjoy experiencing and that we hope can inspire other designers honing their skills in slow fashion.

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