UPA brand is the winner of the 'Best Brand Pitti Bimbo 2020' Award, awarded by Hooligans Magazine in Florence, Italy.
Enjoy an interview with our Creative Director Vaida Rasciute for Hooligans Magazine. Thank you to Marina Ansaldo and Natasscha Girelli.
First of all, congratulations on receiving our first Hooligans Heartbeat Award at Pitti Bimbo; you really made our hearts flutter! Tell us a little bit about yourself and your beautiful brand.
Thank you very much for this award. We are thrilled that you were able to see the essence of our brand. Many amazing people are involved, and we are steadily growing. It's not just a brand; we believe we are creating a movement that is connecting many hearts. Winning the heart-shaped trophy at Pitti Bimbo was particularly symbolic for us, especially after receiving an eye-shaped trophy in Ireland. If you believe that everything happens for a reason, as we do, we have enough to conquer the world :)
- What does UPA mean?
I believe my story is not much different from other designers in kidswear. My inspiration for this venture was my third child, my daughter Liepa. She used to jump in a jumper, and her aunt used to say 'upa upa upapa.' When the time came to think of a brand name, I chose it led by instinct. I allow myself this luxury – to be led by instinct quite a lot :) I am not even sure if this is the exact place where the name came from, but it surely came from the heart.
- We know you are from Lithuania, but now live in Ireland. How do you keep both countries in your heart and in your designs?
I am 'levitating' now. I am no longer in Lithuania and not yet in Ireland. I believe that I am a bit 'lost in translation,' and I think it is a permanent condition now. Although I am strongly influenced by my homeland, with a special place in my heart for its seniors, heritage, and nature, I also feel Ireland has influenced me a lot. Ireland is my canvas for all the things I create, but I like to use mediums from Lithuania. I hope this makes sense to you :)
- We fell in love with your brand at Pitti Bimbo, where you told us about the Natasha dress. Can you tell us Natasha’s story again?
Certainly. Myself and my three amazing girls, Jovita, Kristina, and Jane, were walking via Market Street, and one salesman shouted to us, 'Natasha, Natasha, idi siuda!,' which means, 'Natasha, come here.' He wanted to sell us something, thinking that we were Russian. So we just laughed and walked. One of us got hungry and started to be grumpy. So we were joking, 'this is not you, this is Natasha.' We went out that evening, had a fun time, and joked that we released our Natashas. Then we met our friend Dimitra; we told her this story, and she also related to it so much. She said, 'you know, you have to do something about it.' And obviously, I said I will; I will create the Natasha dress. And here, Natasha was born. It is becoming such a cult. And it really is a way to say that it is ok not to be ok, it is ok to be different. And we do want people to embrace their imperfections, to make them strength. And we want to plant this 'seed' in a child's mind as early as possible. Do not compare yourself to anybody; you are one and only, embrace yourself.
- How would you describe UPA in 3 words?
Heart, soul, artistry.
- Is your personal style similar to UPA’s style?
Yes and no. I think that my personal style is a little more aggressive. But UPA is for sure an expression of my artistic twisted mind. It is like a world inside my head transformed into something you can physically touch and feel. I think I create out of a passion for life. I have a wonderful life; it is giving me the greatest gifts, the most beautiful people, and I thrive by creating all this. I tend to use mostly silks and linen. It is something raw and also so soft and all so real. The same sensual palette I bring through our visual stories. And it is similar to my personal style.
- How and why did you create the brand?
My daughter and my mother. My mother, a very stylish and rich-soul grandmother, my biggest influencer, knitted a dress for my daughter out of silk and mohair wool. This was the beginning. People were asking where we got it and so on. It developed organically. All opportunities and the right people came when needed. And now I feel that we are on the right path stronger than ever because people need new consuming behaviors and different shopping experiences. That is what we try to build – a community with deeper relationships and innovative ways of consuming culture. From the very beginning, I was saying that UPA is a quiet invitation to stop.
- What was the inspiration behind the Spring collection?
It is called 'Showtime.' At the same time, it is Natasha's debut. Like all collections, it was inspired by nature and a few talents that, in one way or another, have influenced me in my creative life. I am influenced by Tim Walker, Wes Anderson, and Alexander McQueen. I wouldn't say I am a typical fan of them, as I do not even know much about these people. It is more something about some of their work that is within the same narrative as my mind works. And I always get influenced by things, objects, neglected spaces. I tend to naturally build or fix, or see beauty in broken. I think that all UPA pieces should be experienced by looking at our fashion film, editorials, listened to, seen, and then touched and worn.
- I remember you telling me you also design weddings; how do you carry that form of art into your children’s clothing brand?
It is more advertising campaigns rather than weddings, but I did those too. I have done many things, I must say. I have this Carrot Inc company that I call 'my trash,' where I do so many different creative projects and collaborations.
- Can you share something secret that you’ve been working on?
Oh, I talk a lot, so I would love to share so many things! But probably the most exciting one for our customers would be that there will be more Natashas and in more forms than clothing. And the most exciting one for me, and I am sure it will be for our customers, is a live art installation that will take place in Ireland at the end of August. All I can say is that it will involve UPA dresses, more than 100 people, a lake, a piano, and movement. It should be AMAZING! And everybody is welcome to be part of this ;)
- As we head into the push for the digital era, how important is social media for your brand?
I believe we haven't fully harnessed the potential of social media yet. Clearly, it serves as a platform to better understand our customers, develop relationships, and convey our message. We also envision it serving in some innovative way that we haven't figured out just yet, but we're working on it. Currently, the primary goal is visibility. As time progresses, we anticipate discovering how to leverage it further. Undoubtedly, we aim not just for numbers but for genuine connections with real people.
- Can we expect to see any women’s pieces in the future?
'Never say never.' While it's not in the immediate plans, there's always room for possibilities. At times, I ponder the idea, but it might be too serious for me. I thrive in my wonderland, and childrenswear provides an excellent platform for my creativity. However, we do have plans to introduce interiors to our brand at some stage.
- Where can we buy your gorgeous masterpieces?
You can find our beautiful creations in our online shop at www.upa.ie or through our wonderful retailers worldwide.