Mihaela Glavan is one of the most popular and creative Romanian accessory designer. She has joined the industry in 2003 at the age of 24, when she created and sold only 5 pairs of boots in a closed-circuit store. With the money gained from this first attempt, Mihaela bought materials which she used for her next collection.
She started designing shoes when she was looking for some for herself and discovered that the market did not offer much. She began with bride shoes and in 2006 she launched the first Sepala collection, the "shoes with attitude". The Mihaela Glavan line was launched in 2008 and it represents the more artistical brand, which often includes collaborations with other designers, Romanian or foreign. Time passed by, the business became stronger and in 2009 she launched the first Sepala store. In 2010, the designer has launched the online shopping facility. Another year, another progress!
Constantly evolving, Mihaela Glavan has found the perfect way to create amazing accessories, keep customers satisfied, collaborate with almost every important name in the fashion industry and keep true to herself. Down to earth, she is a family persons like few that I have met.
I personally discovered Mihaela's work in 2006, when I started college and when my passion for shoes started. I find it amazing that she has managed to keep her name in the industry, altough we have had such an increasing amount of young shoe designers in the past years. You can immagine why she was my first choice when I decided to start the interview series. Let's meet Mihaela!
The Shoe Dictionary: You graduated the Faculty of International Economic Relations and became one of the most imporant Romanian shoe designers. How did these two parts of you come together?
Mihaela Glavan: The Economical Faculty hepled me to better understand this business and get the correct image of what it means and how it works. Then, creativity added the rest and made people like you say things like these about me.
TSD: Was it difficult to join this area of fashion: did you come across obstacles or negative opinions? How did you manage to overcome them and, most of all, how did you manage to make yourself known as a brilliant shoe designer?
MG: It wasn’t an easy decision, but I began this journey driven by passion and a little bit of madness. I met wonderful people and, honestly, luck was on my side too. I don’t feel that I , as a person, made a name of myself, but the shoes that I create.
Mihaela and Kristina Dragomir (hat designer)
Mihaela and Gianina Corondan
Mihaela and Catalin Botezatu
Mihaela and Corina Vladescu
TSD: What does it mean being a Romanian young designer and, most of all, how difficult is it to obtain this status?
MG: It takes creativity, passion and consistency. The selection is made by the market, though atypical and in a formation process as it right now.
TSD: How do you feel about the overflood of people/workshops/stores creating custom made shoes that we have been experiencing over the past years? Do they bring something new to the industry or is it just a fashionable trend which will wear off eventually?
MG: I’m glad to see that we have more accessory designers every day. It’s a good sign. This reflects the fact that the number of people wanting and buying one of a kind, custom made creations is growing. But as I said before, it’s up to every shoe designer to do what it takes in order to become more than a “fashionable trend”.
TSD: Is there a school (in a programmatic way), a tradition in shoe design here in Romania?
MG: Unfortunately, no.
TSD: Did you notice or come across rivalries and friendly connections in this “industry”? How did the Romanian fashion world treat you?
MG: Hahahaha. You can find vanity, more or less justified, in any area, not only fashion. I would rather say that friendly collaborations have been settled with few production brands or shoe designers from Bucharest and all over the country.
Inspiration: architectural details, gestures, movies, exhibitions, places I visit
The most treasured shoe collection: fall winter 2009-2010, which was inspired by the Bucharest in between the two world wars
Greatest outcome: professionally speaking, Sepala
Favourite shoe designer: Pierre Hardy
A fashion icon: Twiggy
The first high heel pair of shoes: around tenth grade in highschool (about 17 years)
TSD: You created two brands: Sepala – the more basic and “tamed” line – and Mihaela Glavan – the more artistical line. Did you decide this because you felt that the Romanian public is not ready to wear more arty shoes? Is Sepala the commercial compromise to sustain the Mihaela Glavan brand?
MG: The Sepala shoes keep the touch of the Mihaela Glavan collections, they have intricate detailing and special cuts, but they are more accessible as far as price is concerned. This is certainly not a compromise! It is about different targets. And as far as I am concerned, I work with the same amount of pleasure and passion for both of them.
TSD: Throughout the years, you collaborated with several famous Romanian designers. Tell us about these collaborations and mostly about the TouchedBy project. How did you come up with it?
MG: TouchedBy is a dear project to me, an idea that came from the desire to create mini accessory collections together with the dear people surrounding me, designers or public figures with an acute artistical sense. The design of these collections belongs entirely to the guest designer and the technical consultancy and production are provided by the Sepala workshop. The pieces are then available for purchase in our store located in 9 Franklin street for about a month after the launch.
We started the TouchedBy series in 2009 with the cretions of Ana Alexe. We then collaborated with Lena Criveanu, George Neagu, Ovidiu Buta, Stephan Pelger, Catalin Botezatu, Irina Marinescu, Adelina Ivan and Carmen Secareanu.
TouchedBy Adelina Ivan
TouchedBy Ana Alexe
TouchedBy Catalin Botezatu
TouchedBy Carmen Secareanu
TouchedBy Irina Marinescu
TouchedBy Lena Criveanu
TouchedBy Ovidiu Buta
TouchedBy Ovidiu Buta
TouchedBy Stephan Pelger
TSD: What can you tell us about the representative profile of the Sepala/Mihaela Glavan customer?
MG: Educated and creative in style and fashion terms, he/she appreciates both design and comfort in a shoe.
TSD: What do you think about online shopping and online stores? A few months ago you launched the online store on www.sepala.ro. How did you decide to enter this business too?
MG: There are more people every day choosing to buy things online. The main reasons are, of course, time and comodity. We launched the online store on www.sepala.ro in August 2010, the customers from outside the capital are very excited and thankful for this store. They can access the latest Sepala and RSM collections and not only, because the online shop has a special but continuous section of Sales.
TSD: Tell us a little something about the fall winter 2010-2011 colletion. What exactly did inspire you, what fabrics did you use?
MG: This year, for the fall/winter collections of Sepala and RSM we decided to approach things a little differently. For both men and women shoes I added some punk-rock influences. I have always liked combining fabrics, textures and develop new patterns.
TSD: What are the future plans and surprises that you have planned for us from Sepala and Mihaela Glavan?
MG: In spring 2011, we will be launching Sepala Kids, the brand for children’s shoes. As for surprises, there will be plenty and lovely ones, you just wait and see!
When it was opened: september 2003
Location: Carol Park area
How many persons are working there: 20
How many shoes are being made there, monthly: about 500
The store and the showroom
Spring Summer 2010
fall winter 2009-2010
spring summer 2010
spring summer 2010 (fashion show)
fall winter 2010-2011
Fall Winter 2009-2010
You can find more photos here.
So, dear reader, what do you think? What's your favourite part about her work, about this interview? What's your favourite collaboration?
P.S. I'm open to suggestions, if you want to know more about a shoe designer, share and I'll do my best :-)
photo source: Mihaela's Facebook page, acasa.ro, viva.ro, hipmag.ro, fashion-affinity.ro, 121.ro