Established by Svitlana Bevza over a decade ago in Kyiv, Ukraine, BEVZA has become known for its timeless and elegant silhouettes. Bevza’s philosophy is that making clothes should be as sustainable as possible and that they should be worn over and over again; so minimalism and simplicity have become key variables in her work.
The brand has been slowly but steadily growing every season, but as of this year it has reached a mass audience. The front rows alone – busy with buyers, editors, and a surprising number of influencers – testified to the amount of exposure the brand has been getting. In great part due to her consistency and sustained evolution as a designer, it didn’t hurt that the likes of Gigi Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski were spotted wearing some of her pieces.
For her S/S collection, which she presented earlier this week in Manhattan’s Spring Studios, Bevza found inspiration in the Woman; her power, her femininity, and her beauty. Both literally and metaphorically, the Ukrainian designer used her collection to create a parallel between women and nature, highlighting their strength and their offerings.
Bevza kindly took some time to chat with us about designing with feeling, feminine power, and why sustainability has become a core element of her process.
Your brand has been gaining momentum and is quickly growing. Did that influence the way in which you designed this collection?
I mostly work using my intuition, but I also did a lot of thinking about creating and making this collection. I wanted to concentrate on the essence of Bevza while also showing some classical and elegant pieces. I feel purchasing clothes today must be a very thoughtful process. It has to be a profitable investment in the sense that it should be about the quality, clothes made with natural materials that you will use for years and years. There is too much overproduction these days and it’s not a good thing, for us or the planet.
Is that from your customer’s point of view then?
Yes, but it’s also important for me as a designer because I can aesthetically show that it is possible to make beautiful long-lasting clothes. I want to make clothes that give my customers choices. I want to create clothes that look feminine and that feel good but at the same time make us think of the future, our children, and nature.
So, the collection also visually represents your philosophy?
Yes, exactly – it’s not just as an idea. I also wanted it to be something you can feel visually. If you noticed some of the details, like weaves and textures, there were references to grain wheat which is symbolic of Ukraine as it is known for its wheat fields. Wheat grain is harvested; it is what nature gives us [it is also a symbol of fertility], so I am also speaking metaphorically about the nature of women and the power of their femininity. That is why, for instance, I placed wheat details on the belts here (she places her hand on her womb). I tried to connect these themes: beauty and womanhood and nature.
I did explore the meaning of beauty because it is not just the appearance. This collection reflects the beauty of women as an attitude. How she understands and interprets the word ‘beauty,’ how she treats people, how she treats herself and the planet.
Many of the pieces felt sensual but also strong, pairing both power and femininity; how do you combine those two?
Because women are strong! Separately, they are different, even as words. ‘Power’ is a strong word, and ‘woman’ and ‘feminine’ are interpreted as weak words, as something sensitive. But I speak of both in my collection, the ‘powerful women’ and the ‘power of women,’ so I wanted to combine that in my collection.
Would you define your design as emotive?
Bevza is all about feeling, definitely. It is very emotional. For me, the detail of a color is something that speaks to you behind the scenes. From the beginning, it’s always been very interesting and important for me to speak through these collections with feelings.
Is this something your customer is in tune with?
Yes! We get a lot of feedback from our clients and they always tell us about how they feel. Not how they look but how they feel, which is amazing.
How does it feel to be getting so much attention and recognition?
I realized that there are many people who appreciate Bevza and I’m still getting used to it. I just prefer to work on the collections and then allow other people to take over the rest of the processes. Now it feels like we have fans, which is amazing but also a little bit strange.
Please tell us a bit about the sustainability of this collection.
The entire collection is earth friendly. There are no synthetic materials except for maybe viscose, but that is also recyclable. We also used Ukrainian recycled fabrics, a type of linen, in three color schemes. To be perfectly honest, the only production problem we had in the Ukraine was the soles of our shoes. It’s synthetic because we don’t want to use leather, but we are working on that too!
Was there a specific point when you decided you would do everything as a designer to keep your process as sustainable as possible?
It was after I had my first baby. After having my first baby, I really began to think about those things. Even recycling! The culture of recycling doesn’t really exist in Ukraine yet. I am an activist for it there. Sustainability has become my initiative, which is why it needs to be reflected in my work. I believe in it!
Photo by Elizabeth Pantaleo for NOWFASHION