Can clothes make you forget the boundaries and clutter of everyday life
for a moment? Perhaps, when one slips into the plissé dresses of Julia
Heuer or gauze shirts of Ala Sowiar.
While plissé and prints are the hallmarks of Julia Heuer’s eponymous
label, and multi-layered and transparent textiles are those of Sowiar’s
brand Halo Labels, what unites them is their approach to fashion and the
unusual garments that emerge as a result.
Neither think in terms of classic fashion collections; rather, their way
of working is influenced by their past studies at an art academy. The
designs follow the zeitgeist, but not trends; their garments are created
through the careful research of materials and many years of developing
their own techniques.
The poetry between form and function also lies in the lightweight and
sheer fabrics. The cuts are simple, too much decoration would only distract
from the essence of the piece. It doesn’t take much to celebrate the
lightness of being.
Julia Heuer: Pleated, fancy and joy
Julia Heuer creates her whimsical, colourful prints herself. In fact,
her forte lies in the pairing of patterns and colours. Before founding her
label in 2017, she designed prints for major fashion houses at the Swiss
textile design company Jakob Schlaepfer. Few pieces of her label are still
painted by hand, most prints are digitally printed on slightly sheer
fabrics. Based on the Japanese shibori technique, Heuer developed her own
method which, in interaction with the prints, gives the garments their
appearance and final shape.
“Our strength is that we come from a different starting point. We didn’t
really develop a fashion collection in the classic sense; we worked with
the combination of print design and shibori, which we delved into,” Julia
Heuer explains. “By doing this, we developed a product that had an
eye-catching feature, which was different from other products. I don’t know
of any other label that combines prints and handmade plissé in this
Heuer first came into contact with shibori during a semester abroad in
Denmark, when she was still studying at the State Academy of Fine Arts
prints and pleats have since become her signature style and helped the
label grow. The brand can now be found at places such as Canadian online
retailer Ssense, as well as at US department store Nordstrom and
Frankfurt-based boutique Supermercado. A small team of women in Estonia
learned her technique and has been helping her make the garments ever
since; only by pleating the garments by hand can they obtain their shapes.
Heuer also hopes to grow with her label so that she can hire more staff and
have more time to be creative herself.
“I would like to continue to grow – grow in the sense that we can dive
into new techniques and expand our collection,” says Heuer. “Also, the
technique of shibori itself offers so many more opportunities for
development. My goal is to continue to create unique collections in these
Distribution: Via the label itself
Target group: Women aged 18 to 85
Sales points: Mainly boutiques in the US and Japan, but also
in Canada, Germany, Switzerland and Indonesia. Heuer does not run her own
Retail prices: 330 euros for a sleeveless top up to a caftan
for 820 euros
Halo Labels: Transparency, light and textile
A fascination with textiles has accompanied artist Ala Sowiar for a long
time. When she studied media art, she projected her digital works onto
fabrics. And in her signature gauze shirts, too, the diffusion of light
between different layers plays a crucial role. Sowiar discovered the gauze
fabric – which is unusual for clothing – at a flea market and tried to
imitate the see-through effect, which fascinated her.
“I was always triggered by transparency. I am very attracted to this
idea of haziness and fluidity that transparency brings, also the way that
light diffuses on a textile, when it’s transparent,” Sowiar explains.
Her tactile shirts need as many as four layers of delicate gauze on one
side. Only then does the material, which is otherwise used in medicine or
bookbinding, become wearable as a garment. Sowiar dyes the gauze by hand.
To work sustainably, she starts with the lightest colour and ends with the
darkest. Combining different coloured layers creates the matte shimmer on
the surfaces of her best-selling design.
For her other garments, the designer works a lot with deadstock fabrics,
and her gender-fluid collections are created intuitively. She designs her
collections in her studio in Berlin, and the pieces are made by a
two-person team in Poland. She sees her brand Halo Labels, which takes its
name from the English word ‘halo’, continuing in the future with boutiques
with similar values and herself as an artist.
“I don’t see myself running a big business, I’d rather stay connected to
the artistic field. And maybe even expand my creation a little bit more
into art,” Sowiar says. She would prefer to run several projects, like her
fashion line, and make art objects or films alongside it. “I am grateful
that having a fashion line also allowed me to do other projects that
revolve around this universe, textiles and fashion. I would love to expand
a bit more as an artist, I think that are two areas that would always
Distribution: Via Ala Sowiar
Target group: Women and men
Stockists: Mostly boutiques in the US and Japan, but also
Australia. Two-thirds of sales currently come from its own webshop.
Retail prices: 89 euros for a t-shirt up to 179 euros for a