In their latest collaboration, Austria-based designer Iva Ivanova and sustainable swimwear label Poleit came together to craft an intimate Spring/Summer collection inspired by the love for nature, city life and timeless minimalism
Words by: Gilda Bruno
Nestled in Graz, Austria’s second-largest city, Poleit is a sustainable swimwear brand driven by the pursuit of a “slow lifestyle and carefree enjoyment of the great outdoors.” Drawing on the bubbly Mediterranean atmosphere of its ‘hometown’ — an oasis of green and cultural ferment located in the Austrian state of Styria and divided into two by the Mur river — the label combines “effortless tailoring and uncompromising quality with a healthy dose of nonchalance, a sprezzatura.”
Founded by creatives coming from all across Europe, Poleit attempts to encapsulate their shared love for the water, which dates back to their upbringing spent on the Adriatic and Atlantic sea as well as on the Austrian lakes, into a “down-to-earth version of dolce vita,” as the founders explain on the brand’s website. With a strong focus on the selection of fabrics designed to ensure free movement and relaxation in any possible condition, the label strives to balance elegance and simplicity through swimwear, clothing and accessories imbued with “precious nostalgia”.
Ahead of the launch of Poleit’s new Spring/Summer collection, co-designed by Austria-based designer Iva Ivanova, we spoke with the team behind the brand and their collaborator to learn more about the values at the heart of the drop, and hear what they are up to next. Discover more below.
Collectible DRY: In this SS22 drop, we see two worlds come together. Could you please introduce us to your respective practices and briefly describe the vision behind them?
Poleit: For Poleit, it’s all about bringing together our love for nature with the enjoyment of city life; a place where the desire to explore is not limited to the mountains or sea, but also directly linked to the vibrancy and unpredictability of hundreds of thousands of people living so close to one another. Both are equally exciting and inspiring for us, which is why Poleit is about evolving and adapting to any possibility that allows us to reinvent ourselves.
Iva Ivanova: At Iva Ivanova, fashion isn’t viewed as something that belongs to this precise moment, but as the result of the moments that have come before and the potential ones that will follow. Whether materially or aesthetically, everything created here is made to last: at the core of the atelier lies a profound love of timeless minimalism, brought to life and celebrated through the creation of clothes that can be worn for decades. With this at the heart of Iva Ivanova, being ‘sustainable’ isn’t something we try to be. It’s what we inherently are.
CD: How did the idea for this collaboration come about? What kind of shared values informed its realisation?
P, II: The collaboration is nothing but the fruit of years of mutual appreciation for what the other is creating, something that naturally led us to work together. We’re both based in Graz and have been nurtured by this closed-knit city through its palpable sense of social responsibility and inimitable aesthetics. For us, creating and producing consciously isn’t a limitation but actually grants us a sense of shared identity. As such, we both produce limited quantities and have a dislike of waste.
CD: How would you describe the essence of the collection?
P, II: Drawing upon the late 70s and early 80s casual looks that effortlessly transitioned from day to night, White Room utilises elastic ribbed material, deep colours and small seams to create pieces that allow for free movement and self-expression. Set against the backdrop of the Covid pandemic, White Room originates within and reflects a world that is more introspective and savouring of joyful moments.
From Poleit, we can see this deep commitment to freedom — freedom to wear and be as we please — which is then harnessed by Iva Ivanova’s discernment for classy longevity. Iva Ivanova has helped Poleit to grow up, Poleit has inspired Iva Ivanova to have more fun, and together we’ve created something that speaks to the zeitgemäß (the feeling in the air): we’re more aware of the need for lightness and ready to be spontaneous.
CD: What was the most inspiring part of collaborating on this launch?
P, II: During the many months of pandemic-induced restrictions, we all struggled with the planning of day-to-day life. Still, working on White Room allowed us to flow with the process and actually enjoy some problem-free time where to creatively challenge ourselves. It was non-questionable that we wanted the collection to be designed and handmade in Austria, so this helped us avoid distractions and focus on what each of us wanted to express with White Room. Through this collaboration, we really managed to influence each other: we’re braver, more trusting of ourselves and others, therefore more daring about what we want.
CD: In a clothing-saturated world, what can POLEIT add to the current fashion scenario?
P, II: If we look around, it’s easy to see how polarised things are at the moment; it feels as if everyone must have a specific take on sustainability and simply go with it. White Room is about growing, embracing ourselves and finding freedom together. When creating high-quality, limited pieces that are about free-movement and classiness, we don’t want people to choose between ‘leisure’, ‘homewear’ or ‘nightwear’: instead, we want them to be as they are, whether they wear their vest to Yoga or on a night out with friends. Let’s not overthink it, let’s enjoy our clothes however we choose to without giving in to standardised categories.
CD: What are your hopes and dreams for 2022? What can we expect from you in the coming months?
P, II: For 2022, we’re looking forward to some more freedom of interaction, less separation and fewer restrictions on being with and getting inspired by people we know and don’t know. Being masks still mandatory in Austria, we really can’t wait to see and be influenced by people’s faces, the movement of their mouths and the power of their personalities. White Room is by no means over, this is just beginning. Perhaps, we will reunite again to celebrate our shared love for the sea with swimwear to enjoy the summer feeling.
Pre-order all items from Poleit’s White Room collection on the brand’s website.