I actually don´t know well Aleksandra, but after few rare occasions talking to her one on one and by talking I mean just some lines, I got that impact and feeling like knowing her for ages. And believe me, this interview only confirms me this. “How is this possible”, are you probably asking now? Passing years and getting older, you´ve become “filled” with experiences that life brings and all of them help you, especially when it comes to perception of new people you meet through your life journey. What sort of it I got about her? As an honest, straightforward, open, creative, spontaneous and buddy-type of a person with that sparkle “joire de vivre” in the eyes that only children have. But there´s much, much more, that I discovered throughout this interview. The one that was like writing a book, she said at the end. And sure it was. Intense and funny, due the fact she had a smile on her face even when the talk turned into more “serious” theme. Her “in the first second impact” boyish-like look is a second later "thrown" in the shadow by her very maternal and sensitive side, regardless the fact that she is a mother of three kids.  The time right after the birth of each of them, made her to change work-directions and to experience new shades of design and creativity. After all she is not a “long-distance” (future) plans believer, but she prefers to excel oneself in the current, present ones and then to get that surprise-part of the future.  This is also her brand aleksandrabrlan; unpredictable, spontaneous, comfortable and honest.

- How would Aleksandra introduce Aleksandra?
If the audience are fashion people, then I would go: »I'm a devoted designer. I never want to quit! If the audience are children it would be: »Hello there! My name is Aleksandra and I know some really cool games«, and we would play hopscotch.

- What's your nickname?
I never really had a nickname, but a few variations of my name. My dad and my grandmother called me Sandi (like a boy's name), friends and relatives call me Sandra. Aleksa was probably the first sort-of-nickname that I got during my collaboration with Klemen Klemen as a costume designer. He gave me that name. And then Urša, my dear friend, calls me Leksa or Leksi as a variation on Aleksa. Movrin* calls me Brli. That's about it.

- What is your current state of mind?
As always, being honest and therefore feeling free.

- What's your motto?
As above. (she smiles)

- What's your obsession?
Currently it could be sweets, but really, I don't care for obsessions. I don't think they are good for your soul.

- Your latest dream (during sleeping)?
Sailing with my husband in stormy waters.

- What is your best quality and what is your weekness?
I'm a true friend and I have a weekness for sweets.

- In what occasion do you lie?
I don't like lies. They hurt.

- Which talent would you most like to have?
I don't know.  I've got all the talents I need.

- What would you change about yourself?
There are things one can change, so in that order I always strive for being better in all aspects of my life. And there are things you can't change. We should keep some as they are. It's ok.

- Best and worst memory?
Many best memories and just a few unpleasant ones, nothing much.

- Blogs you like to read / check?
Hmmm ... you got me! I'm not reading or following any blogs, really. I pop an eye here and there.

- Top 3 magazines?
I prefer books, although recently I'm not in a reading phase.

- What is your personal style and who do you mostly wear?
I like it loose ... I have some Jelinič, Persuh and Sadar in da house! Margiela, Sportmax Code and Kenzo, too. I wear my designs as well. But I also buy less designed clothes and shoes. I'm not so into designer fashion.
- Your 5 top essentials?
My husband, my 3 children and me!

- Which smell reminds you of your childhood?
I have no specific connection between smell and childhood.

- As a child what you thought you will become when being grown up?
A hairdresser was one of the ideas. (she smiles)

" When finishing high school I was like: OK let's try fashion. I passed the exams and thought of it as a sign. And here I am. "

- When did you become aware of your talent? Is it something you had since you were a child? Or did you develop your potential over the years and practice?
Thank you for the compliment.  I don't know much about talent but I guess the thing is with me since I can remember. It's an urge to express yourself.  When finishing high school I was like: OK let's try fashion. I passed the exams and thought of it as a sign. And here I am(she smiles)

- Years ago you´ve started as a stylist for Elle Slovenija. In between you´ve experienced many different jobs in a fashion sector (including organizing fashion events) and life phases that influenced one another. Few months ago you presented your degree collection at the LJFW**. Everything remains in fashion, but where Aleksandra sees her at best? Could you also tell me about this life-work evolving experience?
I’m a mix and I love it! First I thought I have to choose one occupation to be like normal. But I love doing various stuff and Slovenia with its limited possibilities is a perfect place to do it. I started as a stylist at Elle and was soon appointed as assistant to fashion and beauty editor. After my first maternity leave I was offered to become Elle.si editor and I said yes. That was a perfect job for me! Soon I had another child and after returning to work I realised I needed a change. So I quit Elle and wanted to live from my design. It was in 2009. Do I need to say more? So I began to take other jobs to earn money. I worked with Zavod BIG as the fashion editor at the Month of Design’s Design Expo fair. I managed FNSI’s Final fashion show in 2009 and 2010 as the creative director and did some small steps into costume design ("The Little Bear Creeps into Himself", directed by Jaka Ivanc,  Katja Šulc’s "I love You YouScream" video, directed by Miha Knific). In between I was selling my collections at Ostblock boutique in Zürich and at Sisi shop in Ljubljana.
Finally I had enough of this freelancing stuff and I applied for a job at Sportina Group as the area visual merchandiser. I managed 12 stores across Slovenia which meant a lot of driving and late work. And after I finished this project I took a break. I was only focusing on my collection "No time on Tuesday". But I thought that wasn´t enough to keep me occupied, so I decided it was time to finish my studies. Then a third child surprised us like totally! Here I am now, being a mom of three with a beautiful collection to be sold at Local boutique in Vienna and with the diploma to write. (she smiles) I have no clue where life will take me after my maternity leave. I want to be surprised!

- How do these experiences influence your work and aesthetic?
Good question. With Elle I became even more organized as I was before. I like things well organized. Only good team work and well organized milieu can produce flawless products. Elle aesthetic is really easy to comprehend; you just have to have that Elle woman’s joie de vivre state of mind. I don’t think Elle had a big influence on my aesthetic but we were definitely a big match! Other jobs influenced me in a way that I became more and more independent and skilled in various fields of work. Now I’m able to design, lead a project and write about it. (she smiles)

 " Yes, we have a fashion system, but it is specific. But no one says one can’t go global! "

- What do you think of the fashion system in Slovenija? Does it actually exist?
I don’t know how to answer this … In one way it’s very simple: we’re small and our fashion system is small. When you have a production of fashion goods, is it a boutique or a large industry, a consumer, a designer and a fashion educational sphere, you may call it a system. So, yes, we have a system, but it is specific. But no one says one can’t go global!

- Why fashion in Slovenia is still not taken seriously, especially from the economical side of view? Will ever fashion in future be equal to other industries? How that can change?
Globally fashion is equal to other industries. In fact fashion industry is one of the biggest ones. At this point in evolution, the economic system is such that only financial profit is valued, sadly. We shouldn’t see Slovenia as a textile country as it was before, with its large textile and clothing factories that provided so many jobs. We had a market then and there’s a market now. And it’s a whole new market. So we shouldn’t try to rebuild what once was, but should seek for new possibilities and solutions to this issue. We should recognize good fashion design on a national level and give it credits! A lot of fashion designers are working abroad and are recognized worldly. They all ‘sell’ something Slovenian. We should all be proud as we are when our basketball team wins a big game. Then we should try to make Slovenian fashion design recognisable as something with higher and specific value. All these could take Slovenia to a world textile and fashion map and make fashion equal to other "industries" in Slovenia.

- Top 3 designers?
There are too many, to point out just 3, honestly.

- What does the word freedom mean to you?
Hmm … a true philosophical question. I hope I’m going to answer it properly. (she smiles) When you’re young you think freedom means that you’re able to do whatever you want. But we all know this is not true. Doing whatever comes to mind is not always good. When at war, the meaning of the word freedom is very clear. Freedom of speech? Freedom of the mind? I guess freedom is a big responsibility. Only responsible people can truly be free and those who accept the rules as they are and these rules become their rules. And yogies, I guess.

" A lot of fashion designers are working abroad and are recognized worldly. They all ‘sell’ something Slovenian. 
We should all be proud as we are when our basketball team wins a big game. "

- What inspires your designs? In general inspirations come in any possible time, situation and place. How do you capture/note it? Part of the creative process are also days filled with creative holes, when the idea is not yet here or maybe somewhere in the middle. How you deal with it?
Inspirations come as visions to me. At first they are not very clear, just some images or feelings. Sometimes is music. I mould these for some time in my head, then I try to make some sketches, just to be sure the idea is ok to me. I don’t know anything of the days filled with creative holes. (smiling) Having a family makes my days filled with so much that sometimes I can’t take a breath. So when there is a sign of this hole you’re talking about, there’s still so much to do that I can’t even notice it.

- How much does intuition play a part in the way you work?
A lot.

- Best movie, track, album, exhibition and/or event?
Ah, I like classics: "Blade Runner" could be the one; “Nanook of the North” is beautiful, too! Then with music I’m sentimental and there is a lot of music I like for specific reasons, but the one that takes me back to the wild teenage years is EKV. I don’t go to exhibitions a lot. I don’t remember it clearly but back in 2002 or 2003, maybe in Vienna, there was an exhibition devoted to sound. It was very, very impressive!

- I´ve tried to find the year/date when your brand was established, but with no big success. What I´ve found about it, is that somehow it started like a year after your first child was born. What was the turning point? Was it your plan (dream) from the beginning? Describe, please, the process of making your brand. How to start, especially if you maybe don´t have a strong financial background? You do everything on your own (instincts)?
That’s because I’m a mystery! (she blinks with her right eye) O.K., let’s go gradually because this is going to be a long one. You want to know so much about me! (smiling) I don’t have a registered brand, but I started to make collections when I quit at Elle. Fashion design is what I studied (textile design as well) and during educational process I fell in love with designing clothes. It’s an everlasting love! I don’t like to see myself as a fashion designer, because I don’t follow fashion. At first it impressed me of course, but doing researches for my faculty projects I found out that design can be much more than this twice-a-year trend everyone follows. It seemed so shallow and still is in fact. Although we were encouraged to design prêt-à-porter*** collections, my approach to design was different. I wanted to tell stories and I was very conceptual. I still design in that way. So when I started doing collections I didn’t want to focus on seasons and I knew the market was small. As I said before I was earning money doing other projects, too. So fashion was a sort of a hobby. Gradually it became more and more serious. Now I have a selected circle of people, who buy my designs and I am very pleased with the way it is. I’m not a big design name; I’m not even a brand. And this is exactly what I want: to be small, intimate, homely, and special. I didn’t have a financial background to be able to start a brand as is expected to, but I have a strong wish to express myself through design and I do it in a way that suits me best.  If you’re asking for advice on how to start a brand all I can say is ask yourself who you are and what you want. I’m no business expert, so …

- What makes your brand, aesthetic unique?
I don’t know. I don’t analyse my aesthetic in that way. I never thought of it as unique, I just follow my urge to express myself. Maybe that’s what makes my brand unique. (she smiles) You tell me!

" I’m not a big design name; I’m not even a brand. And this is exactly what I want: to be small, intimate, homely, and special. "

- How would you describe your aesthetic as a designer?
Clear but loose. I’m not good at giving myself names. (she smiles)

- Could you please describe your work process (the process of building one collection)? And what is the best and the worst part of your work process? Do you have any person, muse that inspires you while making a collection? Is there any ritual?
All the phases of the design process are interesting, but I like the creative process best: I imagine the scenery of the fashion show, the music, the models, I plan everything. I imagine what the photos are going to look like, when done. So being an art director of my ‘brand’ is the best part. No specific persons inspire my collections although I always think of a woman or a man when designing. “What sort of a man/woman would be this time?” I ask myself. I have no specific ritual. Collections come and go, like days. Sometimes it’s sunny, sometimes it rains. And I love it both ways!

- Who are your customers and how much influence does this customer have on your vision and creative process? Did the size of the Slovenian fashion market and the possibility of selling more ever compromised your creative part?
I think I answered the first question somewhere above, maybe not directly, but it will do. The size of the market is surely something to have in mind when thinking economically, but I don’t work that way. I’m lucky enough I don’t have to.
- The importance of lasting/durability in sense of quality and design - how important is it to you that your pieces and designs last and it´s not just a season-trend thing?
It’s not the season-trend thing.

- Tell me about your latest collection “The Future Tribe”.
Honouring tradition and looking ahead into the future.

- Your collections are all handmade and produced in Slovenia. Could you describe what kind of materials and techniques do you use? Do you re-elaborate (upgrade) materials – making them by yourself?
With the Future Tribe collection I was doing shibori****. I love upcycling***** and transforming. But it’s not something I do in every collection.

- You collaborate with other artists, making with them some special products that even more evolve the spirit of each collection. Most of the time it’s about jewellery pieces. How two energies find each other and then start to collaborate?
I follow my instinct. Then I make a call. (she smiles)

- Your garments are made for women, but I can easily see few pieces on men, too. Is there any plan to start doing menswear?
Thank you and yes.

- Nowadays we are deeply involved in social networks, all other technology stuff and first-look impact that are becoming more and more relevant in business. How is this important for your brand? Does it help you as a sort of a promotion? How do you generally promote your brand and what you should do more?
I follow my instinct and trust my experiences. I don’t have a classical business plan. Social networks are media where I again can express myself in the way I want. You have to clear it out why you have a facebook/twitter/instagram page or profile. If you do that honestly, you get what you want. Otherwise you just float around. But if that’s what you want it’s ok, too. Mouth to mouth is a good promotion for a small brand as I am. What I should do more? You are thorough, you! (she smiles) I’ll think about it and let you know soon!

" I follow my instinct and trust my experiences. I don’t have a classical business plan. "

- Where can we buy aleksandrabrlan pieces?
I don’t have a selling point in Slovenia, but I do have one in Vienna. My stockist is Local boutique at Zollergasse 12 (www.ostformshop.com). And of course you can get in touch with me through social media. Slovenia is small. The other day someone that I would have never thought to called me. God knows where she got my phone number! (she smiles) But it ended up as a beautiful experience!

What are your plans on how to expand the brand?
Expanding my brand isn’t on my mind at the moment.

- What is next? How do you see in your next 10 years?
More man’s fashion. Happy with my family. Everything else comes naturally.

- Thank you.
Thank you so much for the questions. It felt like writing a book. (she smiles)

/ all original photos are courtesy of aleksandrabrlan, photographer ada hamza, featuring škrabzi and nejc vašl /

*designer Peter Movrin
**Ljubljana Fashion Week
***ready to wear
****shibori is a Japanese tie-dye technique
*****recycling and then upgrading the material

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