Growing up in Poland, Magda Butrym’s eye for fashion started early: As a high-schooler, she thought she might want to become a doctor — until she realized she was more interested in designing the perfect scrubs than finding the perfect cure. “My parents were always into fashion. They care about what they wear, and [instilled in me] that what you wear is important — how you look is important,” Butrym told WWD in a phone interview. Her interest led to a career in celebrity styling and apprenticing for Warsaw designers before eventually launching her own line there in 2014.
Now, with five seasons under her belt and a growing international retail presence — Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Moda Operandi, Ikram, Beymen and Elyse Walker are among the collection’s stockists — the 31-year-old designer is as thankful for her success as she is surprised by it. “It’s quite unexpected for a brand from Warsaw to be visible,” she said. “I never, never thought that it would go this way.”
With an emphasis on solid craftsmanship, Magda Butrym’s collections explore feminine/masculine tension with clinging knit or romantic ruffled dresses paired against sharp tailored separates, oversize proportions and slick leather outerwear. She finds inspiration through travel and books on vintage style in the Seventies and Eighties, but her focus is firmly on the modern woman’s style. “When I’m designing, I’m always thinking, ‘How it would look with jeans? With trainers?'” she said. “I like to imagine that girls are really wearing it on the street, and I love how they mix it with their own wardrobes — how they put this dress on that I never thought would work with trainers. It helps me to push my imagination further.”
The label was bound to get noticed on its own terms, but Butrym thanks Instagram for speeding up the process. “I made our first look book [with models posed against] vintage carpets, and there was so much interest from the shops already,” she said of her spring 2015 collection. “Montaigne Market, a shop in Paris, stocked the collection because they saw our photos on Instagram. Instagram is such a powerful tool for young brands with no money for advertising. You can really connect with people.”
Interest is growing fast: When Butrym first brought her collection to Paris, only a handful of buyers and retailers stopped by. A year and a half later, for fall 2016, she accommodated more than 50 appointments and expects that the collection will be stocked in about 40 retailers worldwide. She hopes to add shoes and handbags to the label in upcoming seasons as well as launch an advertising campaign.
Her latest collection fuses Victorian glamour — silk ruffled blouses and floral-printed dresses — with a cool street vibe, thanks to the addition of denim flares and oversize jackets, along with a deconstructed, off-the-shoulder leather motorcycle dress that displays an effortless sex appeal. “This fall is the first time I feel really complete — I feel like this is really our [target] woman,” she said. “I felt proud for the first time. It’s hard to find the best way to make it a bit artistic and high-fashion but still [wearable]…but with fall, I feel like I’m finally standing on my feet.”