Serbian designer duo Marko Ilijev and Saša Stević, also known as MATES presented their Spring Summer 2022 Jadran Collection. For this season, they turn to films, photography and trends of another time. The collection was captured by AUDSHULE, with assistance from Nemanja Halilovic and makeup by Milan Bauranov. The star of the collection is model Jelena Petković represented by J’s Management.
DSCENE Digital Editor Maja Vuckovic sits down with Mates design duo to talk about their new collection, the inspirations behind it, their favorite past and present trends and more.
Hi MATES, nice to have you again at DSCENE! What have you been up to since our last talk?
Marko: Hey there dear people, we’re glad to have another topic to talk about and, by the way, happy anniversary, stay as cool as ever! Last time we spoke, we’ve been working on our winter collection and now we’re showing you our summer one and taking you to a coast far away from the city.
Saša: Same goes for you, DSCENE pals! Um, I’d say a lot has happened, but let’s focus completely on summer, we have the feeling it’s already started, even though we’re still counting down till “day one”. We have been working on our summer collection and I honestly can’t wait to share that MATES atmosphere we’ve wrapped this summer in.
You shared with us your new collection, what has been the biggest inspiration for the SS22 Collection?
Marko: Adriatic coast, the sea, 60s, Yugo cinematography of that time, unencumbered people spending their summer on the seaside, daydreaming of their deepest wishes.
Saša: “Jadran” inspiration arrived from a few different places and we’ve come to realize on several occasions that we’d enjoy spending some time in the 60s, like this at least. We’ve had a few interesting movie nights that left us mesmerised by Milena Dravic’s wardrobe in the movie “Rondo”, by Zvonimir Berkovic, as well as fashion and atmosphere from our legendary movie “Ljubav i moda”. Maybe we also got addicted to the sound of šlager (Yugo hits), since we had some luck with vinyls during our long Pancevo vintage market tours. Dancing and parties are something we both missed and see as a critical part of this 60s period, so that’s definitely a leitmotif that had a lot of impact on the story.
What was your thought process in making the “Jadran” collection?
Marko: I wanted to convey the nonchalance that summer bears and share it with every person who opts for MATES pieces. The cuts and silhouette of the collection are very loose and unburdened, with recognizable accents of our aesthetics.
Saša: Our idea was to transpose but also preserve some really beautiful and simple segments from that period. We went from movies, through music to dances and the exchange of emotions in dance and in touch, all of which somehow intensified during the summer days. We also got to the photos, fashion and silhouettes of that period.
Can you describe us the MATES girl for this season?
Marko: A woman on the beach eating peaches and reading her favorite novel, while her dreams and MATES “Picnic” dress are drying on the fence of the hotel terrace.
Saša: I see a MATES girl dedicating this summer exclusively to having fun. That is her only goal this summer – to enjoy.
Most of your collections draw trends from the second half of the 20th century. Can you see your brand shifting to the futuristic side?
Marko: Honestly, not really – future nostalgia is the mantra I am bringing into my work in the past few years.
Saša: I think about this really often since I am a big Sci-Fi fan when it comes to film and gaming, but also big names in fashion and even new ones that we get to learn about almost every day. I would be lying if I said that I am not interested in or inspired by technology or architecture. It’s all just energy and atmosphere, maybe one day it will pull us to that side.
How do you think your design styles have changed over your career?
Marko: In fact, it hasn’t changed so much but the first three collections are perhaps the most distant for me now. I do still feel a stylistic connection with the things I do now, though. I think that the aesthetic of the brand has been very recognizable for the previous four years, for example.
Saša: We are constantly playing and that’s something you will always notice in our work.
How do you walk the line between being unique and having commercial appeal?
Marko: There is an imaginary line I draw when it comes to a too commercial formula or a product. I think the commercialization of our pieces has been present from our very beginning in this business and I have no problem with that – I wanted to have a brand that people will actually wear. It is also crucial that I never lose my creative ideas to commercialization, the story and concept around the collection is much more important to me than the initial value of a piece. People still don’t realize that when they wear designers, they wear personal stories, affinities and whole ideas of these artists.
Saša: I believe in everything we do with our hearts involved and I hold that people recognize and read it as authentic. I would say that it is this authenticity that forms an invisible line between commercialism and uniqueness.
What are your favorite trends in fashion, past and present?
Marko: Honestly, I am not the most up-to-date person and careful follower of the trend for the last couple of years. Today, so much is “allowed” and considered a trend that for me to be trendy is to be authentic.
Saša: I’m not a trend kind of boy. I grew up focused on people that put all those regularities aside and gave the imperative to fun, art, hedonism and fun again.