Fast Confession - Nikol and Jakub Poner: Dressing the First Lady was an honor, we probably wouldn't turn down anyone but a terrorist
We probably don't have to introduce Nikol and Jakub Poner. These days they're among the most famous Czech designers and their dresses can be seen at every high class social event. The siblings have also recently decided to expand their portfolio, so these days you can even find stylish sneakers or leisurely fashion for everyday wear in their studio. They've already had several successful shows, including the prestigious Fashion Night Ignites in Washington DC, some time ago they also agreed to take up dressing the First Lady Ivana Zemanová and her daughter Kateřina. The Poners talked to us not only about their plans and ambitions, but also about what it meant to them to dress the Czech President's family, and what surprises they've prepared for their clients next year.
When you look back and see the amount of work you've already done, what comes up on your mind?
Nikol: That it's unbelievable. It always warms my heart to see the amount of work we've managed to do in such a short time. Sometimes I ask myself how we've even pulled it off. And I'm proud of us.
Jakub: I hold the same opinion.
In the past you've spoken about expanding overseas. How is that looking out for you?
Nikol: We've been working with several actresses over there. It's been slow, but we've been working on it for sure. (laughs) We've also started considering one of the foreign Fashion Weeks.
Jakub: All of this stuff has kind of been finding us on its own, so we've already gotten some offers. But we want to work towards something really meaningful.
Nikol: I've been against Fashion Weeks the whole time, because I was a bit disappointed by the Czech one. But we've been playing around with the thought of trying out a foreign fashion week more and more.
Nikol, you said that you mostly do marketing and that Jakub creates and sews. What would a day at the Poner studio look like if your roles were reversed?
Nikol: I have to say that I don't make formal dresses, but I do come up with various kinds of skirts for everyday wear or pieces with the Poner elastic. When Kuba was on holiday I came up with a knit dress for example, which sells really well. I'd just do my thing, but I probably wouldn't be able to make a dress, so I'd just be walking around the workshop.
Jakub: It'd definitely be worse for me, because I'm barely even able to pay rent from my account. So I'd be fighting with it a lot. It's neither my strong nor my weak point. It's just not my point.
Do you remember the actual moment when you first realized that fashion was your life's passion and you wanted to devote yourselves to it?
Jakub: I've known since I was a child that I was going to do this. It only took the right time and encountering the right person, in this case Niky, to push me into it in some way.
Nikol: I never thought that I would be working in fashion one day. I'd liked fashion since childhood, but I didn't think about making it my livelihood. I delved into it completely from the start though, the moment I ran to Kuba and told him that we were going to do embroidered lingerie.
In the past you'd been criticized for dressing the first lady, President Miloš Zeman's wife, and their daughter Kateřina. Did these criticisms affect you at all?
Jakub: Any criticism will affect you, of course, especially in the beginning. But if you were supposed to take every criticism that you get told to heart, you'd probably go crazy.
Nikol: I think that this made people notice us even more. People talk about it and for us it isn't anything we'd be ashamed of. I'd give the same answer a hundred times, it's an honor for us to dress the first lady.
Is there anyone you'd never dress?
Nikol: No. There's no one we resent so much that we'd never dress them.
Jakub: Well, it depends. If some kind of terrorist showed up at the studio, I probably wouldn't work with them...
So you do not feel any antipathy towards anyone and work with the motto "the customer is always right"?
Jakub: We've already turned down many people who came to us. But it's more about when somebody comes to you who you just don't gel with. In this case it's better to say that you won't take the job, rather than deal with conflict later.
Nikol: That's true. Such a job gives you more stress than joy. It barely ever happens, but it has happened before.
How important is the idea of sustainable fashion to you?
Nikol: We've been doing sustainable fashion from the start, we don't do "fastfood" fashion. We work with quality materials, so it might be a bit more expensive, but it will last you longer. We work on all materials down to the finest details. Often we re-sew things we don't quite like. I think that it's a popular topic now, but we've been involved with it and presenting ourselves with it from the start.
Jakub: It's like this, when I use lace on a dress and have leftovers, I'll use it on a pair of shoes, for garters, we try to utilize it further. When we have leftover fabrics, we have people who take them to schools where children use them further. So I think that everything is used up to the last bit.
When we're talking materials, what are your favorites ones to work with?
Jakub: I love velvet, silk and lace.
Nikol: I like everything. Many times I like fabrics that are like lining, and my brother asks me if I'm kidding. (laugh) So I don't look at it from a professional standpoint like he does. I like a fabric and I don't wonder whether it's possible to make the thing out of it or not. Bro's got the final say in choosing.
Faux or real fur?
Jakub: These days the technologies are good enough to make faux fur that looks real. So I'm not opposed to faux fur.
What are your plans for 2020?
Nikol: Our e-shop really took off, so we'll be putting a lot of energy into that. And we'd really love to open our first physical store in 2020.
Jakub: We haven't finalized plans for 2020 yet. We have this tradition that we write everything down at the end. And that dictates how our whole year will go.
Nikol: We're definitely planning to have another designer show. Or plans and goals keep changing all the time, because things often happen really quick and then we upgrade them. But the thought of a physical store has been on my mind all year, so I think we'll open it in 2020. We'll start small and then we'll see.
Have you already picked the location? Do you want to stay close to the studio?
Nikol: For us it's really important to see how the place vibes with us. We've had several offers this year, but none of those were quite it. We definitely want something in the center, but the surrounding area is important too, to have the right vibe and to have us look forward to coming to the store. Isn't that right, Kubí?