Catalina Jitaru, founder and designer of Catalina J. brand on how to create a desirable sustainable fashion label.
At the start of the new decade, the calls for positive change in fashion and the stream of eye-opening conscious conversation has never been so high.
As a new breed of fashion designers is emerging, it feels that the old, wasteful, and inconsiderate ways of making fashion are finally breaking.
Either by opting for innovative, sustainable, and zero-waste approaches, or, by changing the societal norms and bending gender roles.
However, despite designers’ passion for making this world a better place and consumers’ consensus that ‘something’ has to change, the primary role of fashion as a medium for self-expression can be neglected:
“Placing sustainability, cruelty-free, fairtrade, and vegan values above one’s need of self-expression is a mistake you can’t afford to make,” said Laurenti Arnault, Co-founder of Wardrobe of Tomorrow, the world’s first marketplace dedicated exclusively to high-end sustainable fashion.
Indeed, beyond one’s desire of doing good there’s an innate need for self-expression – through fashion choices, a secret that Catalina Jitaru has observed before she launched her first collection, back in 2016.
Finally, Catalina is sharing her secret of identifying responsible and sustainable ways to create compelling stories and original interpretations.
It is the ‘sauce’ that has turned the label into one of the most desired sustainable fashion brands to date.
Q1: Tell us more about yourself.
I’m Catalina Jitaru, Fashion designer of Catalina J. brand based in Brussels. Before launching our brand in 2016, I’ve worked for several fashion brands, more of them were mass-market brands where I experienced from the inside of this fast fashion system.
That’s why I decided to create my label, my designs, to develop modern femininity, and distinct original creations.
Q2: How was Catalina Jitaru’s childhood?
I remember being always passionate about creating little stuff, my dolls, crafting something for my family, or my own. Colours and shapes always attracted me, that’s why I’ve learnt to draw all by myself.
So, when I finished high school, it was clear to me that I would love to have a career and do studies in fashion design.
Q3: What is the idea behind your brand?
The main idea behind Catalina J. brand is to make unique, but comfortable designs. Now we must implement innovative and sustainable solutions for our processes at production, that’s why we’re careful about the fabrics which we use for Catalina J. collections.
All this adventure of sustainable fashion started almost two years ago when we decide to create a line of Catalina J dedicated to the white shirt. The entire collection was made from certified organic cotton. After, we started to implement more low impact and sustainable fabrics.
Q4: Who has inspired you to build Catalina J.?
The women! The women always have been inspired me, and they’re continuously doing. Their lifestyle, the way they want to express themselves and to feel confident with themselves.
That’s why, I said to myself it’s better to create unique and individual designs, which represent everyone differently, it’s a different way, a different view and approach to design.
Q5: What is your take on sustainable fashion?
Now, we hear almost every day about sustainable fashion, cruelty-free fashion, or ethical fashion. I guess its not just a passing trend, it’s here to stay and the most of it, its the future of fashion. We’re living in a transition to a more conscious way of consuming.
Most of all, sustainability is not only about certified fabrics, but it’s also a philosophy, its different kind of lifestyle.
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Every one of us can do little things to change and increase awareness about the environment to change the perception of who made your clothes, and how we’re paying the people who work.
Nowadays, more consumers are interested to know and to find out more about the production process not only about the creative part of our designs.
That’s why at Catalina J, we explain that this is a long process, and by implementing each season, solutions we are achieving our aim, to be a part of a circular fashion process of production.
Q6: Describe Catalina J. in three words.
- Ethical – It important to us to have transparency about the production of our designs.
- Slow fashion.
Q7: What are the fabrics you like the most to work with?
I like most of all to work with viscose, organic cotton, recycled wool, but also, we’re open to discover and test each season new fabrics — for example, Tencel. We’ve been using it in our collection for spring/summer 20.
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Why choose ORGANIC COTTON? 🖤No use of GMO seeds and synthetic pesticides 🖤94%less gas emissions 🖤98 % less water consumption 🖤 Anti-allergic and Kind to skin 🖤More durable, soft and last longer fabric 🖤Completely Biodegradable 🖤Fair trade paid farmers #catalinaj #ss19#organiccotton#sustainablefashion organic#slowfashion #jachètebelge #ikkoopbelgisch #createdinbelgium #instafashion#ethicalfashion #contemporaryfashion #ethicalfashion #whomademyclothes#bio#goorganic #fairtrade
We enjoy working with these fabrics because of their high quality and feed with our vision of protecting the planet and taking care of it, but also with our aim of respecting consumers.
Q8: What does a typical day look like for Catalina Jitaru?
A typical day now looks more crowded than ever. Catalina J has more collaborations, more points of sale, and challenges to face every day. So, there’s a lot of different activity; there’s not a day similar to another.
A typical day for me it’s not a programme from 9 to 5, because creation and designing, taking care of the customers, it’s a continuous process.
Q9: What are the projects you’re working on at the moment?
Collection for fall/winter 20-21, and our next coming project – a musical project called ‘Opera for Peace’, a UNESCO project. They have a concert in each capital of Europe, and we’re very proud to dress all the female artists of this amazing humanitarian project.
Also, for the next season, Catalina J has some surprises. We will introduce three new fabrics, but I won’t say the name of these fabrics, we’ll let you discover them yourself!
Q10: What are two of your favourite items from your collections?
One of them is a black jumpsuit, ‘Liz.’ It’s a timeless and chic piece, inspired by my tailoring style. It has causal details that give a comfortable and relaxed attitude. Also, the silhouette is very comfortable, that’s why it’s one of my favourites and one of our customers favourite.
The next one is definitely the must-have of the collection; it’s called ‘Diane cropped blazer’. The most important detail of this jacket and the most attractive are the zippers inside of the sleeve lines that can transform the sleeves into a cape.
Q11: What would you say to new designers, wanting to embark on the same journey as Catalina Jitaru?
It’s not an easy way to choose; its not a short path to success. First of all, work hard, believe and trust in your ideas, in your dream. Do not to give up, no matter what, no matter if you go slowly, or there’re more obstacles than you’ve thought about it on your way.
And, be aware of your comfort zone, because if you find yourself very comfortable, in the area that you already succeed it’s a dangerous path not to improve or better your way.
WTVOX – ‘Voicing the Future of Fashion’
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