For Ivana Tomic, fashion is more than the final product; it’s the process, too. Ever since she started her eponymous brand in 2009, this Croatia-based designer wanted to think minimally. “I have wanted to focus on small and limited edition collections and a personal approach to every garment,” she says.
And it was this intimate approach to fashion that attracted us to Ivana. At Ichtus, we were intrigued by her brand’s relationship with sustainability and by her lax yet dramatic pieces. We were able to chat with Ivana about her commitment to environmental responsibility, her life abroad and the hottest spots in Pula, Croatia.
What inspired you to start your business, i v a n a ‘ t o m i c?
I started developing my brand soon after I graduated from college and moved to Madrid, Spain. I always loved working with my hands, creating new shapes, finding new cuts and patterns, so I didn’t see myself drawing on the computer all day long and copying other designer’s clothes for fast fashion brands. That’s when I started working on my own collections and slowly developing my brand.
How do you incorporate sustainability into your brand?
I try to use only natural fabrics, and currently I’m focused on using deadstock fabrics instead of buying newly produced fabrics, which are often lower quality than fabrics that have been produced some time ago.
I think about fabric waste early in the design process, so I often use different zero-waste techniques.
That way, most of the fabrics are used, and there is much less waste. I also offer to my customer’s repair or redesign of the garments they’ve bought and worn.
In five years, I see my brand as plastic-free and even more sustainable. I have a lot of new ideas, but it’s a step-by-step process.
What do you love about your job?
It’s the fact that I can do what I love and choose how I spend my time. Being a designer and having my own business means I work 24/7, not 9-5. So it’s oftentimes frustrating and difficult to manage multiple roles, but I consider myself lucky because I make a living working on my passions.
Running your own business can definitely be stressful. How do you like to unwind?
I go to the beach or the island near my hometown in the summer, read a book in a hammock, no shoes, no clothes, just nature. Or I travel abroad. That’s what unwinds me the most. And when I’m overwhelmed with designing, I balance it with photography. I always loved taking pictures, so it came naturally. I started photographing my designs, and now I’m working for other brands and designers as well.
Tell us more about your life abroad before settling down in your hometown of Pula, Croatia.
I studied in Ljubljana, Slovenia, and Lisbon, Portugal, and I lived in Madrid, Spain, for many years. Living in different countries and cultures is my biggest inspiration. To be able to learn new languages and meet new, interesting people is a great way to grow.
You learn a lot about who you are when you are not in your safety zone. It just makes you think differently and makes you more proactive and open-minded.
I think this quote by Oliver Wendell Holmes explains it best: “A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions.”
Absolutely. Why did you eventually decide to move back home to Croatia?
After I spent a year without going back home, I came for a longer vacation and stayed. I felt it was time for something different, so I freelanced and traveled before I decided to give it a try and recreate a brand here in Pula, away from fashion centers.
Pula looks incredible. Can you give us your best recs?
Instead of hotels, I would recommend renting a villa or vacation home. If you want to be secluded, there is a gorgeous lighthouse to rent on Marlera. If you want to stay in Istria, there are many vacation villas. I can recommend these two: one in Rojnići and another villa nearby.
You can rent a car and drive through the Istria region for some great local agrotourism. If you like steak with truffles, go to Stari Podrum in Momjan. The best craft burgers are at Arboretum Pub in Fazana.
We are in the Istrian peninsula, so there are a lot of beaches around. And you can find a spot for yourself. If you like pure nature, there is Cape Kamenjak where you can spend the whole day chilling. You can eat and drink at Safari Bar or Njive Bar. In the city, you can go to Verudela, which has many nice beaches such as Havajsko and Svjetionik. The best part of living here is nature.
Here some others mediterraneans creators.