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Mika’s fashion explosion!

Last update - Wednesday, March 20, 2013, 14:17 By Tolu Omoyele

A Swede based in Dublin, Mika Sorvik moved to Ireland over five years ago – and never looked back.


Her label MeekaBomb reflects femininity and other beautiful qualities – experimental, vibrant, multi-dimensional, eye-catching, with a passion for the female representation of the self – and is truly distinctive. She does not follow the norm or the hype, rather she creates her own hype through her meticulously crafted designs so that each woman is empowered to stylishly stand tall. The final-year design student took some time out of her busy schedule to speak about her passion for fashion, how her path in life was determined at a very young age, her greatest achievement to date, and how to run a successful label...


Hi Mika! Can you tell us a little about your background, and how you feel it prepared you for a career in design?

Since I was little I have been designing my own clothes and going through my mother’s boxes of fabrics to see what I could come up with. I did a few sewing courses to be able to make clothes for myself, but never really considered that it was something that I was going to work with. Instead I have a Bachelor’s degree in System Development. I worked in IT for three years before I hit a wall and realised that it was fashion I needed to do. I started studying fashion design straight away and I am now in my final year in college. Even though I realised that IT was not the right area for me, it has given me a lot of valuable experience.


What will you do after you finish fashion design college?

I will be finished with college in June and will then be looking for opportunities within fashion. I am hoping to get an internship or job in Dublin but I am also looking into the possibilities of going to New York or London as the markets over there are much bigger.


You are a student and you already have a stockist in Om Diva. How did you manage that?

My friend Renate Henshke was selling her jewellery label, Maker, there and she told me to go in and talk to Ruth, who owns and runs Om Diva. I went to see her and showed her my portfolio and designs and she liked it. I made a collection and started selling there in 2011.


What drew you to fashion, and specifically to starting your own line?

I was always drawn to making clothes for myself, and when I was wearing it out I got a lot of really nice feedback from people that wanted to buy clothes from me. After a while I thought, why not? And the shaping of MeekaBomb started.


Where do you get your design inspiration from?

From society and everything around me. I always keep a camera with me and photograph everything I see. Some people might think my photos are strange as most of the time I just take close-ups and weird angles to create shapes and patterns rather than an actual object or scene.


What is your style? And who is your style icon?

I like to express myself with what I’m wearing. I like clothes that stick out from the crowd. My ethos is about not being afraid of wearing something that can draw attention, to wear what you want and not to care about what other people think. As a designer I probably design for customers that are a bit similar to me.

I come to think of two designers/labels that I admire, as I think that they have similar thoughts about fashion as I do. Louise Gray is a London designer who has become known for her clashes of textures and patterns. Her clothes stand out and go against the norm. Meadham Kirchoff, another London label, is citing Courtney Love as their perfect customer and the pair are keen to challenge stereotypical ideals of how women should dress. They want to make clothes that empower women instead of demeaning them. Their look is about defiant girlishness and making clothes for a woman with a sense of aggression and freedom about herself and an ambivalent attitude towards the rest of the world.


What materials do you use?

I love bold and colourful materials, fabrics with extreme patterns and clashing colours that in the end, when the finished product is ready, totally make sense. To quote the designer Louise Gray, she describes herself like a magpie that cannot keep her hands off anything that shimmers, and that is pretty much me. I basically love everything shiny!

In your opinion, what exactly is fashion?

For me fashion is about expressing yourself. Fashion is art and textiles, and for me it represents creativity. Bradley Quinn, in the book Textile Designers at the Cutting Edge, sums it up perfectly: “If a body without organs amounts to a human being without a soul, what would fashion be without the creative process that drives it?” However, one can never forget that the fashion business is commercial and in the end it is always about selling your garments. That can sometimes be forgotten on the way.


Do you outsource any of your design work or do you do everything yourself?

MeekaBomb is operating on a very small scale, hence I am not outsourcing any of the work. At this stage I prefer to have full control over everything. It would not be  feasible in the long run, though, as it involves a lot of work that does not get paid for.


What does a typical outfit creation involve?

As a designer you are always seeking inspiration and the first step in the design process is to pick your influence for the collection, or sometimes your influence picks you. You collect information and develop your ideas from this. Once you have decided what designs you want to proceed with, you start drafting patterns and making mocks. You rarely get it right from the start and constantly have to go back and make changes. Once you have a pattern you are happy with, you can produce the garment.


Your design techniques are very distinctive. What’s the secret?

My mother taught me how to sew and she has always been my toughest judge, which is probably the reason why I am so meticulous now. Everything has to be perfectly neat. Most experimental techniques, such as embellishing, embroidery and appliqué, I learnt in college but also during last summer’s internship in John Rocha, which was very developing for me.


What is fashion like in Sweden?

In Sweden, just as in Ireland, craft is a huge part of our heritage and very important to us. I think that is what Swedish design is based on. We honour simplicity, minimalism and functionalism, which at the same time is pleasing to the eye. For example, most Swedes are fashioning their homes rather than decorating them, creating a demand for fashion-conscious textiles that are as bespoke as any couture garment.


How does the Swedish fashion industry differ from the Irish fashion industry?

Well the Swedish market is much bigger than the Irish one. Stockholm has a well established fashion week and a lot of recognised high-end labels. To be honest I am not that well read on labels actually operating on the Swedish market right now, but there are plenty of international labels such as Dagmar, Acne (a permanent runner in London Fashion Week), J Lindeberg (famous worldwide for its jeans), Rodebjer, Fifth Avenue Shoe Repair and Ann-Sofie Back. Anna Ekre was nominated ‘rookie of the year’ in 2012 and is Sweden’s new looming designer. She combines imaginative illustrations with classical feminine silhouettes, imprinted on and made of luxurious silks.


What is your perception of the Irish fashion towards immigrant designers?

I think anyone can establish themselves on the Irish market as long as they adapt to the market and make sure that their target customer exists. Make sure to do your research to find out if there would be a demand for your ideas out there.


What do you most enjoy about a fashion design career?

I get to work with something creative all the time. Fabrics, design, photoshoots – it all excites me.


What is the most difficult aspect in launching your own label?

The most difficult things are finance, sales, advertisement and production. My dilemma is that the label is small-scale and I am making everything on my own. I am not selling enough to make any money and part of the reason is because I am not advertising enough to get my name out there. But if I get my sales up I would not have time to produce more since I am in college at the moment. It is a bit of a catch-22, but I will change this around once I am finished with college.


From your experience, what is most challenging about a fashion design career in Ireland?

I think the most challenging thing about a career in Ireland is that it is such a small market with few opportunities. It is extremely competitive and many people leave. The high-end market is also very small and most labels would go to the London market for that.


What do people need to know about a fashion design career?

A fashion design career is exciting and rewarding in so many ways. But it is very time-consuming, competitive and involves a lot of hard work.


What skills do you think are important in having a successful fashion design career?

To be driven is one of the most important skills as a fashion designer. You obviously need to be creative and have an eye for fashion, but without working really hard and making it happen you will not get anywhere. I have also learnt that practice really does make perfect. When I was younger I used to think that I could not do certain things, that it was not a talent of mine, but now I know that you can learn anything and become really good at it as long as you practice. Confidence is really important within fashion, and of course, you gotta love it.


Aside from design, what other interests do you have?

Music and films are big passions of mine. Then I love all the general stuff like getting lost in a forest, drinking tea, growing plants, pottering around in my house and going swimming. I’ve even learnt to enjoy the cold Irish waves.


What do you wish you had known before making the leap from IT to the fashion industry?

Because I started my fashion career fairly late in my life I have not encountered any particular surprises so far. However, I wish I had known or believed earlier in my life that I could do this. When I was younger I did not have the confidence to apply to art college because I thought I was not talented enough. I wish someone had told me that talent can be taught and that I totally had it in me.


Where do you see the business in the long term?

I am hoping that MeekaBomb can grow into an established label which will naturally develop with me. I have grown a lot design-wise since the first collection I did with MeekaBomb and the collection I am working on now is much more mature than my first pieces.

When I started MeekaBomb I was convinced that I was going straight out on the market to solely run my label after college. After talking to a very successful Irish designer I realised that you first need to learn and get the experience from the high end side of fashion. Then you can run your label and choose what level you want to operate from.


What is your greatest design achievement?

Design-wise I suppose it is the collection I am working on right now. It is my final collection in college, which will be finished in May. It is my biggest project so far as it has involved a long design development period, exploring different techniques and developing experimental embroidery and crocheting. I am now in the middle of making the final touches on the patterns for the garments before I can actually produce the garments.

My greatest career achievement to date is my internship with John Rocha last summer. I was part of the production team and was doing everything from hand-stitching buttons to drafting patterns. I was also working at the John and Simone Rocha shows at London Fashion Week for the last two seasons which included show preparations and backstage work.


What advice would you give those who want to give fashion design a go?

I think internships are great, and why wait till after you’re finished college? You are better off getting the experience as soon as possible, which will set you up in a better position once you are finished. I learnt so much doing mine, which made me really confident and motivated going into my last year in college. However, it was also hard leaving as I very much would have liked to stay there.

But all internships are different and you should try to get in something, it doesn’t matter the length or workload, as soon as possible.


Look out for Mika and her fellow students at their final year exhibition on 23 May at the Bray Institute for Further Education on Navaro Road, Bray, Co Wicklow. See more of Mika’s designs at and look for MeekaBomb on Facebook and Twitter.


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