Mădălina of ZuzaMuza (trans. “The Wacky Muse”) loves colors, flowers, traditional Romanian stiching and embroidery. This week, she took some time off her busy schedule to join me for a chat about how she started the first – and so far, only – plus-size brand in Romania, about inspiration and about how to love yourself and go ahead and wear what makes you feel good.
Anca in Fashionland: First of all, I’d like to ask you to tell us a few words about the brand. Who is ZuzaMuza? How did she come to be?
ZuzaMuza: ZuzaMuza was born out of frustration, to be honest. Out of the frustration that, having a few extra pounds, I couldn’t find clothes that I’d like and that would fit me. From my point of view, in Romania, plus-size clothing is ugly and old-lady-ish. Lately, several large companies have shown up here that have plus-size sections, but small workshops that make special things, and not “street uniforms” don’t really exist.
Thus, four years ago, I had the reason, but there was no spark. Then, I won the latest – back then – iPhone in a cigarettes competition. I sold it and bought an embroidery machine, wanting to embroider leather for jewelry, as handmade jewelry was my hobby back then. It took me almost six months to “befriend” the machine. I thought that it would be a waste to only use it for jewelry and I started to embroider appliqués, which I would sew onto my clothes, in order to customize them. In the meantime, I began to love hand embroidery as well and quit smoking.
At first, the ZuzaMuza concept was “embroidered tableaux applied on plus-size clothes”. Later, the concept evolved and now not only do I make clothes in all sizes, but the embroideries sometimes transform into all sorts of fun appliqués meant to make the wearer smile.
AiFL: In Romania there aren’t many plus-size brands and the options are often – let’s be honest – kind of boring. What do you bring to the market? What sort of feedback did you receive from your target audience so far?
ZM: First of all, I bring the concept of slow fashion to plus-size clothing. ZuzaMuza Atelier creates limited edition – or even one of a kind – dresses, comfortable and colorful clothes that can be worn in one’s free time, and not just then. There is a ZuzaMuza style that I love and I’m happy to see that the number of “zuzas” is growing.
How successful is slow fashion here? Perhaps not as much as it should be. Again, we’re talking about mentalities. Many women prefer to go to Zara or H&M and buy cheaper clothes, without caring that the next day, when they go to work, they see the exact same dress on a coworker. Slow fashion means quality, attention to detail, personality and customization. Slow fashion means soul. When you buy an item of clothing made in a workshop, you should somehow be aware of the fact that you’re not feeding a “mastodon” that pays its workers a dollar an hour . And it should be your choice, even if it costs more. As for the feedback… well, if it was negative, would I still be here? 🙂
AiFL: Where do you find your inspiration?
ZM: I believe I find it in my workshop, it’s hidden there and everytime it sees me – poof!! – it comes out. Jokes aside, on many days I go inside my workshop and I forget to come out. I usually put my phone on silent, put on some music and begin to work. I start working on several things at once and, somehow, I don’t leave until I’ve finished them all. Most times, I don’t even work after patterns. I draw the clothing item and tailor it until it looks right. I often say “thank you” to whoever invented the adjustable tailor mannequin, I don’t know what I would have done without it (or without her, because mine is named Maria).
My clothes are aimed at a certain kind of plus-size woman. The one who feels good walking on the street in shorts. The one who looks in the mirror and smiles. I’m far from “promoting obesity”, but, dammit, if you have some extra pounds on, why shouldn’t you love yourself the way you are?
AiFL: What other Romanian designers do you like?
ZM: I like non-conformist styles, I like Studio Cabal, Edita Lupea, Ioana Ciolacu. And Adrian Oianu, with his traditional accents. I think it’s important to hold on to our traditions, even in fashion. We’ve already been invaded by “traditional” Romanian blouses made in China, but sold as “handmade” items.
AiFL: What would you say to women who love fashion but don’t fit the industry standards?
ZM: I’d tell them to dress in a way that makes them feel good. To adapt fashion trends to their body and their personality. I believe that saying “it’s not my type” about a dress is a mistake. Because you’re the one who creates your type. You’re the one who adapts an item of clothing to your personality, and not the other way around. Through accessories and even through attitude, any item of clothing can be transformed to fit one’s personality. However, there are a few tricks that “fluffy” women can use. Small prints, fluid fabrics… And leggings should disappear from the face of the Earth (I know, ladies, they’re comfortable, but they’re so ugly)… Emphasizing one’s assets, masking one’s flaws… At the end of the day, fashion is an art, isn’t it?
For more about ZuzaMuza and her designs, please visit her at: