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Searching, for the brave

FASHION The poetry of Lithuania, its traumatic past, and the notion of community come together for Arūnė Jurevičiūtė’s label, Searching. Jack Yan interviews her

Photographed by Marija Mireckaite
From issue 46 of Lucire and the October 2022 issue of Lucire KSA




Arūnė Jurevičiūtė’s Searching is a two-year-old label from Vilnius, Lithuania, but it already shows early promise as a confident, forward-looking brand that has a sense of history and social responsibility.

The label’s story is already inspiring, talking of a ‘community for brave people who search … all of us are searching for something. Home, love, ourselves, hope, happiness, or just a nice cookie we like.’ There’s a resonance that’s then reflected in Jurevičiūtė’s designs, which blend colour, passion, history, depth, and thought. When you begin probing, you realize that despite its relative novelty on the fashion scene, Jurevičiūtė has been contemplating what form Searching would take for a long time.

‘When I was a little girl in my country we had this TV show, where this stylist would stop people on the street and criticize people’s outfits,’ recalls Jurevičiūtė, now 23. ‘I was dreaming of becoming a journalist, mostly wanting to work in a fashion magazine. Growing up, I noticed that I love watching people on the street and guessing about their personalities, and what they were like. And fashion became more than clothes to me. It was freedom, expression, and confidence.’

Jurevičiūtė found a way to indulge her passion. In 2016, she created a blog, Saint Style, that had a decent following, enough for it to leave the confines of Blogger and on to its own domain. ‘Back then in my country, it was a very fresh and unpopular thing. After my blog became successful I came to understand that I want to be on the other side of the curtains in fashion, but in Lithuania we didn’t have good universities for fashion design. It was more oriented towards leather and avant-garde, so I decided to see the world and get a better education.’

From there, Jurevičiūtė headed to the UK, enrolling herself at the University of Middlesex. ‘I am very happy I did, my tutors showed me a lot. Nowadays in Lithuania, fashion design degrees have improved and we have many amazing and inspiring designers.’

While there, her graduation collection show was cancelled due to the first COVID-19 wave in 2020. ‘We were forced to find other creative ways to represent our collection. So, together with my fiancé’s help we recreated my work in 3D.’ The hard work paid off, with Jurevičiūtė’s collection particularly mentioned on the graduation website’s home page.

‘I think 3D in fashion is an amazing tool, not only to show the garments from all sides, but also for its sustainability. These days you can get digital outfits to wear for your social media and what can be just as fresh and sustainable?’

There’s no doubt the design capability and technological mastery are there, but every label needs a story.

Despite growing up in the 21st century, Jurevičiūtė was well aware of what happened in Lithuania in the years before she was born, something brought sharply into focus in 2022 with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. She explains, ‘In Lithuania, my generation grew up with collective war and occupation trauma. Everyone’s families were affected by SSRS [USSR] in some way. Also, these days when Russia started a war with Ukraine, [it] brings that trauma back, even if our generation has never been occupied, we relive the horror with Ukraine. Knowing that my great-grandfather was killed because he refused to share inside information creates a fighter spirit in me.

‘So, my graduation collection was based on a Lithuanian fighter’s spirit. And with Searching I am trying to support people as well to not be afraid to fight for their beliefs and express who they are.’

Upon graduating, Jurevičiūtė set out starting her label, something she regards as her ‘destiny’. Confidently, she states, ‘Being able to freely create and make others confident, happy and themselves is the biggest gift I could’ve gifted myself. Even though a lot of people scared me that this industry is very hard and that having your own label will take a long time to succeed I would never change it. You just need to believe in yourself and the world is yours!’

The label, she explains, is about ‘edginess and sparkle. It’s for the people that always are searching for something and doesn’t matter what they are looking for, to search and find it is always important. I really wanted to create something that could rock but would always go together with elegance.’

Looking around at Searching’s website, you can see her principles at play. She uses inclusive words, like together. The ‘Stories’ have small, inspirational pieces and illustrations, and sum up each collection. It’s not about the label, but those who choose to wear Searching. In the 2020s. you want your brands feeling as though they are on your side, with shared values—and Searching does just that.

Since going commercial, Jurevičiūtė has continued the ethos and ideas from her graduation collection. Her most recent, Zosephine, was created in memory of her grandmother, but meant to represent all grandmothers. However, there is a contemporary edge to the designs, combining heritage with modern taste. ‘Grandmothers, caring and loving human beings,’ read the collection notes. ‘Most of the time. Usually, we think about them as they have always been, the way they are right now or the last time we saw them. Only dusty, black and white pictures pulled from the darkest corners show little spice about their life. What if your grandmother was young? Of course, she was. But what if she was edgy, rebellious, passionate, brave, and a fighter? For her beliefs, youth, future, and fun?’

Zosephine was created to prompt people to think about their grandmothers as young women and what ideals they might have held, and encourage us to ask questions about their lives. For those whose grandmothers are still alive—for Searching’s younger customers they may well be—the collection is meant to promote a real-life dialogue.

To design the collection, Jurevičiūtė took elements from her grandmother’s pictures. ‘I took small details of outfits that they were wearing and combined them with edginess and sparkle.’

In another concession to modern demands, Jurevičiūtė has approached her collections sustainably. Each outfit is made in strictly limited numbers, reducing their environmental footprint. ‘I wanted to make it as sustainable as possible for a small creator. I mainly use only eco-cotton or other sustainable recycled materials. So in order not to have any waste, we create our products only after ordering by the measurements, so it would be created only for that person and would fit perfectly.

‘Also, most of the garments have low quantities in order for the person who wears it to feel special. After the pieces are sold, we do not create the same designs even if we get asked, because we want for [a limited number of] people to have that specific design. But custom orders are always available!’

Lithuania itself serves as an inspiration, too, influencing Jurevičiūtė’s design approach. ‘Lithuanian language is very poetic, and we are very close to nature. There is even a saying that a Lithuanian goes to the forest when they are happy, sad, or concerned to get an answer and support [laughs]. But most Lithuanians wear black and very simple silhouettes, and are afraid to show who they really are through clothing.

‘When I came back to my country to create, one of my goals was to inspire people not to be afraid of something different and made for them. It is still hard to understand for Lithuanians why the pre-order method is so special, but we are already going right direction toward better understanding.’

It’s Jurevičiūtė’s hope that the brand grows beyond herself and a dresser. She is thinking about how that community might grow: ‘I see Searching becoming a house, where people are not customers but a community where they support each other and can be themselves. It is not about clothing any more: it is about the feeling it creates, what it makes you become, creat[ing] a better world for everyone.’ It’s a laudable goal, with fashion the medium to achieve it. •



Jack Yan is founder and publisher of Lucire.




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