On the shores of the Adriatic sea, Slovenia has quietly developed an impressive creative scene. Even though it is best known for its sports achievements such as alpinist Davo Karničar who is the first and only person to ski down Mount Everest, there is something growing up through music, food, arts, and especially fashion.
Today, Slovenia might just be Central Europe’s most uplifting location to have an eye on. To discover one of its gatekeepers, you have to cross the country and settle near the Austrian and Hungarian borders. In Maribor, fashion designer David Hojnik makes unique and handmade clothes and jewelry in a very dramatic way and is the one who defines what fashion means in Slovenia. He tells us about his label DH Fashion, how creatives are shaking things up in his home country, and why he collaborated with neubau eyewear for his last collection.
What is your first fashion memory?
When I was about six years old I started with ballet classes. Dance was a part of my everyday life for about twelve years. Although I’ve switched different dance styles through the years, dance has always remained my passion. And when it came to dance costumes I discovered an even bigger one: fashion. I guess it was meant to be, because my grandmother is a seamstress and I was practically living around a sewing machine.
Despite the fact that as a child I often tried to make dresses for my sister’s dolls and all the enthusiasm about special glittery dancing dresses, I later started to study media communications, because the fashion scene in Slovenia as I saw it did not show a great potential. It was only during the student years, when I started working as a stylist, I began to think about creating my own fashion brand and designing jewelry at first and quickly afterwards also the clothing.
Can you describe your label in three words?
There is so much more in every unique and handmade piece we create, but first there are “dreams, passion and devotion.”
Why did you choose neubau eyewear to accompany your latest collection?
As a guy who was wearing contact lenses for a decade, not feeling confident with frames on his face, neubau eyewear came to my rescue. I immediately connected with the brand, their philosophy and fell in love with their style in every aspect. After becoming a ‘local hero’ of neubau eyewear I quickly saw the connection between my fashion label and neubau products, so our collaboration was inevitable.
What makes the clothes and jewelry you create special?
Every piece I create represents a part of me and my vision of beauty and aesthetics in the world. I am open-minded but firmly on the ground, so my designs are dreamy, extravagant, glittery on one hand and wearable on the other. It is mostly about dramatic materials, sexy cuts and provocative messages presented as everyday style.
Why did you not settle your business in the Slovenian capital, Ljubljana?
I did not plan this to turn into a serious business, I was just developing my hobby and passion for fashion, while living in Maribor. But already after one year my creating has overgrown. It is not a secret that Maribor, which is the second largest city in Slovenia, is anything but a fashion capital. But precisely that convinced me to open a fashion studio right here. It was something new, fresh and for some even ‘exotic’, but that is exactly what I used as an advantage and create recognizable fashion brand, based in Maribor. Fortunately, Slovenia is a small country, so we are approachable to everyone.
Tell us more about the Slovenian fashion scene: is it hard to get in as a newcomer? What are current trends that are special for Slovenia?
It’s hard to tell which is the right way to become a part of fashion scene in Slovenia. Sometimes I feel that I created my own. My designs made me recognizable so I choose to work hard instead of just waiting and promoting myself. I think that majority of our scene has not yet figured out, that the purpose of being a designer is to create for people, get closer to your customers through your ideas. Only people can pour the life in your designs, not hangers. And there are people on the other hand, that rarely support and appreciate local, because the things “over the border are always better”. But luckily this trend is slowly but persistently changing, so there are more and more Slovenian designs that you can spot on the streets and go extremely well with popular world trends.
What other creatives should we have an eye on? Do you consider Slovenia as a hub for creative people?
Despite the fact that we are mostly known as a sports nation with a lot of successful athletes, there is more and more space for creative people, culture and art and it’s getting more appreciated every day. Next to talented designers you can find amazing musicians, dancers, actors, painters,… some of them also world known. Together we prove from day to day that there is always a space for creativity and art, regardless the size of a country… and mind.
What do you expect for the future?
I am very well aware that in order to dreams come true, a lot of work needs to be done. I have a lot of plans for the future which can sometimes get a little over-ambitious, but I believe from my past experiences that I can make it through anything and become bigger and better, starting from Maribor to the world.
Watch DH Fashion’s AURA film :
By Louis Danielou