“Unlike many who became interested in fashion due to the glitz and glamour of the fashion world, I became interested out of necessity of having to make my own clothes due to the harsh circumstances of living in a war as a child. I remember my first purchase of fabric as a young child at the age of 7. It was a purple and black polka dot velvet fabric for the jacket that I envisioned making. This vision, however, did not come to be fulfilled due to the war that broke out as I was in the process of sketching the dress that my grandmother was going to sew for me”.
Sladjana Jankovic, a young designer from Seattle describes the environment in which she grew-up. She was 7 years old when the war started in Yugoslavia and 17 when she first moved in Seattle. Sladjana came to the US from Bosnia and Herzegovina in 2001, 4 days before September 11. “I felt like war was following me”, said Sladjana. It took several years for her to rebuild a life and find a new identity in the US. After years of hard work, Sladjana finally found her path and her vocation through design and sewing.
“During the war” she said, “the only clothes I had on my back were the pyjamas and the shoes that I took when we left our home”. Clothing became a hot commodity that was extremely expensive to buy, therefore her grandmother, whom she was living with, started making clothes out of wool. “From her, I learned the long process that even the smallest of items had to go through in order for us to wear them, thus making me appreciate the clothes I had." Sladjana remembers how her interest for design and fashion began. “In the beginning it was not about how glamorous or fashionable the clothes were, it was more about how practical, warm and life-saving these wool pieces came to be. Forward 15 years later, and I am back home standing at the same bus stop I first took to buy the purple velvet material for my jacket. It was not until this moment that I had the epiphany that fashion is more than just practical clothes, but rather an art form and a career”.
Sladjana took on many professional responsibilities very early. While going to trade school for business and retail management she was exposed to retail business trough internships for various boutiques including her family’s owned boutiques. From these experiences, she acquired the ability to understand customers’ needs. She started to envision the design of wearable, functional and aesthetically pleasing garments. The other source of inspiration that led Sladjana to pursue her degree in fashion was a designer who worked for Tommy Bahama. Sladjana meeting with this designer was transformative and inspirational. Not only did she respect the designer's work but she was strongly encouraged by the designer to pursue her passion of design.
Sladjana is now a freelance designer in Seattle. She graduated in 2011 from the Seattle International Academy of Design & Technology. She obtained a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Fashion Design. Sladjana is a visionary and versatile designer who is able to design sportswear to evening wear. Sladjana is looking to further her artistic skills. Illustration and textile print are her first love followed by the entire process of creating wearable garments.
Sladjana has noble professional and philanthropic ambitions. “I would love to create a clothing line for children,” she said. She is working hard to create her own line. One of her main aspirations is to make eco-friendly high-end clothes affordable and accessible to the mainstream. For Sladjana becoming successful does not mean becoming prominent. Rather she is looking for a professional career that will give her the opportunity to use her skills, creativity and devotion to contribute to society. However, for young designers, making a living out of design is challenging in Washington State. According to Sladjana, better access to high-end fabric and low cost manufacturing are necessary to support Seattle based designers in the launch of their first line. Sladjana main desire is to keep working in Seattle. However, if the lack of economic and professional opportunities persists, she would consider moving back to Europe to expand her education and explore European market. Currently she is working on setting up a fashion show while establishing her own clothing line . She is also looking for professional opportunities within WA state fashion houses such as Nordstrom, Luly Yang , Eddie Bauer.
Sladjana’s work is elegant, refined, and feminine. She takes her inspiration from what she discovers and appreciates in her everyday life and the nature around her (colors, shape, texture, etc.). With a soft smile, she said, “I feel fortunate to live here, in Seattle.” Sladjana, is now 27. She has become an inspiring, strong and charismatic woman with outstanding ambitions and a lot of talents. Her work can be seen below at www.coroflot.com/SladjAnaJankovic
Pictures from Bret Doss, professional photographer with model Amanda Guerricabeitia: