Meet Katya Komarova
Each month we celebrate an emerging fashion designer. Our Revolutionary of the Month for October is Katya Komarova.
Katya has a unique insight into the business of fashion, starting her career as a model in her home town of Moscow, Russia. Travelling as a model, Katya had the opportunity to experience the world including a trip to Thailand in 2010 which changed her life and led her to start her own label which evolved into what it is today after moving to Australia.
Katya spoke with Jacqui Miholos.
Tell us about your background and your journey to working in fashion.
I was born in Moscow, Russia. I was a very artsy kid and loved to perform. I grew up in the 90s. It was a very hard time for my country. We didn’t have money and there wasn’t much available in stores so there wasn’t much fashion around to influence me. But I loved music and I loved dressing up in my grandma’s clothes after school. By the age of 15 I’d come to the conclusion that I’d have to become a model, no matter what. It wasn’t as easy for me as I hoped and I only got into a good agency by the age of 18. Then there were hundreds of runways and a Master’s Degree in Drama Acting.
When I graduated, I started modelling all around the world. While I was in Thailand in 2010 I randomly met a local artisan. I was simply walking past his cafe. He invited me to have a banana smoothie. I thought ok, I can have a smoothie and I never would have thought this moment would change everything. While he was making my smoothie, he told me he also makes leather accessories to sell to tourists. The studio was right next to the cafe. He showed me a few of his bags, belts and bracelets and gave me a piece of leather so that I could try making my own bracelet. I did and I never stopped.
What are the different roles you’ve had in the fashion industry across your career?
I’ve been working as a model for over 15 years now. There were times when I also taught catwalk, worked as a stylist and a casting director. I launched my first fashion brand in 2011.
What inspired you to start Katya Komarova your label?
After moving to Australia, I realised my brand back then, byMosquito wasn’t fitting into the Australian market. I simply wanted to reshape the product, the positioning and start a new chapter.
We’re loving the versatility of your creations and how you show your audience and customers how to style your designs. Tell us more about how you design with this in mind.
Oh, thank you! I truly believe we don’t need much to look different everyday. Accessories do all the magic. And the bags, I wanted one bag to be as versatile as possible. With my new interchangeable straps and handles you can have a day bag, an evening bag and a weekend cross-body, all in one. Also, most of my new corsets have removable belts to enable creating more different looks.
What are your values when it comes to ethical fashion?
I work with biodegradable materials like vegetable-tanned leather and cotton. These materials are also long-lasting. On top of that, my current range is made with laser-cutting machines and all items are stitch-free. This allows me to not only minimise waste but also reuse leather pieces of finished and unsold items. Furthermore, by moving all the production to Australia and innovating the actual design, I can now maintain my stock more efficiently and not overproduce.
We’re looking forward to seeing your designs featured in the SA Designer Showcase during Adelaide Fashion Festival! Can you give us an insight into your new collection?
That’s one of the most exciting events of the year. I look forward to getting feedback on my latest work. So hope to see you there. The new collection brings more versatility, new colours and shapes. I am always trying to communicate with my audience to hear what they want and to address those needs in my unique way.
What are you most proud of in your career and life so far?
Last year’s runway at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Russia was definitely a HUGE highlight of my career. I jumped above and beyond of what I thought I could. So, that’s definitely a proud moment seeing all the positive responses to it. In regards of my life, I think I’ve done pretty well with my marriage haha… My husband is a great supporter of whatever I do. It really helps.
What’s next for yourself and your label Katya Komarova?
I mostly sell online and would really love to get a store at some point, so I am working on that. In terms of the product, I think I am really defining more and more what is cool and unique about my brand and why the Katya Komarova bags are better than somebody else’s. There is a deep meaning of smarter fashion behind each piece and my ultimate goal is to tell more people about it.
Photos: Meaghan Coles
Follow Katya Komarova on Instagram.