Svetlana Bevza is not new to the fashion game, but her brand Bevza has certainly hit its stride. After showing collections for over a decade in the Ukraine, Bevza debuted in New York last year and suddenly everything changed. The current crop of celeb style icons like Gigi Hadid and Emily Ratajkowski have pledged their allegiance via some major street style looks, and Sophie Turner single-handedly put Bevza on the mainstream map by wearing a look by the brand during her nuptials weekend to Joe Jonas. The influencer set is on board as well, taking a special liking to a Bevza pearl bra top. “The idea of seashells and bra tops came to me when I was on vacation with my newborn child and I was baking mussels,” Bevza explains of the now-Insta famous top. “It felt like something precious, so I put the pearls in the most sacred place: on the breast.” It’s this love of women that shows through in each of her minimal, yet special collections. Below, the designer gets into her roots, her goals, and how she really sees a fashion house.
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Let’s start at the beginning. We first heard about you because of the puffer coats that you made with animal prints, in the shape of major furs. What was the inspiration for that and why do you think it really got people’s attention?
Well, first of all, I think that sustainability and consciousness is not a trend, but it’s of vital importance. People need to think and have alternatives to real fur because in Ukraine and all the post Soviet countries, due to climate conditions, everybody wears fur. We never used real fur in our label. But the idea to make this puffer look really fashionable, and to make a good alternative to a fur coat came to me two seasons ago. And I wanted to show that people can have puffers that look like iconic fur coats. So I took some famous ones like Carrie Bradshaw’s fur coats and Margot Tenenbaum and did that on a digital print—some look like a puffer only when you come really close by.
Was it always your goal to create and run your own fashion brand?
Yes, and to make a sustainable women’s fashion brand. I want to bring back elegance. There’s an overproduction of goods on the market and I want to make things that are timeless, that are not about being popular for one season. I want to create pieces that are considered a good investment. So when you buy a coat, it can be good this season, or five years later.
What was your relationship with fashion growing up? Have you always loved it?
Oh yes! It was a dream from early childhood. I told my mother when I was five that I want to own a fashion house, and I thought it had to be literally a house where my mom could live and help with the wardrobe. So my first sketches were of that house, with the wardrobes, and all the workers ate there, and slept there, and had parties and big dressing rooms.
That might not be that far off base.
You’ve really created a bit of a cult following on social media, Instagram in particular. What do you attribute that success to?
Oh, yeah. I am amazed by that. Bevza is already 13 years old. But when we showed during Ukrainian Fashion Week, we didn’t have a lot of international press coverage. But finally, I applied to New York Fashion Week and they told me “Yeah, we liked it! Come on. Let’s go.”
So, right after our first show at New York Fashion Week, we saw big growth on social media because people just saw it and they liked it. Maybe it happened like that because I already had years of practice.
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That’s really important. You were ready for it. And you’ve also had some really big celebrity wins recently, with Sophie Turner for her wedding, and Gigi Hadid. What does it mean for your business when a celebrity wears your clothes?
Well, after Sophie Turner, I mean all of fashion media wrote about it, internationally. And I am so, so happy that they mentioned the brand when they talked about the wedding.
So the interest and brand awareness became much bigger, of course. And that impacts our business a lot. The main thing that we are concentrated on is increasing our production facility and keeping the quality. When I go to the office, five percent of my working time I can do the collections and be creative. And the other time is spent crystallizing the structure the best we can.
What role do you think influencers help in growing a brand?
Before entering New York Fashion Week, I was obsessed with getting Bevza on influencers’ radar. And I was thinking how to reach them or how to try to convince them to wear something from Bevza, but right when I gave up on things like that, they just started to write to us and ask to wear our pieces. Of course, when anyone buys Bevza and posts on Instagram, it sends the message that the product is good, and the design is good. The product starts to sell itself.
Who do you picture as the Bevza woman?
When I hear this question, I feel instantly that she very much is me. The Bevza woman reflects the way I live, the way I think, the way I understand elegance. There is a lot of influence, interest, and inspiration coming from my mom’s wardrobe. Specifically, the styling references the generation that grew up on the edge of the ’90s in Ukraine.
My dream is that the Bevza woman is one who respects herself, a woman who respects her genuine roots. The nature of women is very beautiful, so the Bevza woman is the one who stands for beauty in all the reflections this word could mean—beauty for respecting herself, and beauty in taking care of people she loves, and beauty of the way she speaks or moves.
Where would you like to see Bevza in five years?
Oh, I’m ambitious. I think Bevza has a chance to become really big. I want every girl to have something, some Bevza in her wardrobe.
This article originally appeared on Harper’s BAZAAR US.
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