Photos: Aiga Rēdmane, Style: Santa Bindemane
Girls wearing light linen dresses in washed out colours, while the boys are ‘oh so smart’ with their rolled up blazer sleeves and linen shorts – welcome to the beauty of ‘PAADE’! Based in Riga, Latvia – the coolest new European capital of culture – we met up with Linda Raituma for a chat about her new SS14 Collection.
Good morning Linda! Paade Mode offers organic, smart casual clothing for children, ethically produced in Latvia. Could you share with us something of the story behind Paade ? How did you decide to launch your own business in the kids industry and why the name Paade?
The brand and its values represent my personal response to life — a protest against the emptiness that resided in me despite my having a very successful career in finance. I had spent 15 years as a high-level professional in the field of marketing, business development and sales, in some of the largest finance companies. My everyday life consisted of rapid development, various economic crises, realizing challenging projects with large international teams, and never-ending hours of work. On the one hand – a truly fantastic career. But … I missed out on so much in the life of my first-born child. When our second child arrived, it turned our lives around. It was my personal restart. I wanted to witness my kids growing up, to support them in their development — just to be near them and live with the true values that I hold. And these now are channeled in the Paade Mode brand as well. My greatest wish was to create a product where I could show my attitude to life. Paade is full of stories, and that is not by accident. I love simplicity and I believe that a kid should receive the highest quality that we can create, moreover, taking care not to forget the traditional — the culture that can still live successfully within modern life, so that children know their history and their roots over and beyond the next “Pokemon” series. We should be responsible in our approach to the world and the others that live in it. I am fascinated by the pure attitude that kids possess; it is so easy to realize what is truly important, if you look at it through a child’s eyes. I respect their personalities. I want to help them grow in a creative environment and be able to create themselves. I live by experiencing children and childhood over and over. My approach is more of a “slow fashion” one, without aggression and commercialization. Less is more, and the kid is most definitely more important than the dress, more vibrant than the dress, and should be guarded more carefully than the dress. When trying to come up with the product that would best embody my views, children’s fashion seemed the one where organic, smart casual clothing was lacking.
In Latvian the word Paade (pāde) is a historical one; it was used as a term by which to call newborns until they were named: a way of honoring them while accepting them and their worth into one’s family and society. Our kid, our “paade”, a member of our family and society.
Paade offers the perfect profile — chic and cool no matter what the occasion. What are your inspirations ? Any blogs you are addicted to?
For our collections I draw my inspiration from Northern European nature, especially the nature of my own country, its culture, traditions and values, and from the emotions and personalities of kids. I am entranced by everything that is not artificial, but pure and simple. The interplay between natural materials and their capabilities – linen, silk, natural wool from sheep and alpaca. I always look for ways to give things a feel, form and functionality. I am inspired too by photography.
Professional kids’ lifestyle blogs and magazines are useful more for analytical and informative purposes – for example Pirouette, Papier Mache, Milk, LaPetite, KidsGazette, Kickcan & Conkers. I follow them to keep track of what is happening in the industry. I have to say though that thematic, interesting photo projects hold my interest the longest. Paade Mode stands out for its exquisite simplicity, modern legacy, luxury in its clean silhouettes and the breath of fresh air that comes from natural fabrics. The collections makes use of elements true to Nordic Europe, especially Latvian culture, traditions and nature. Paade Mode aims to respect and promote natural beauty and honor children’s personality.
You work with an organic and ethical approach; why is this so important for you? Whose are the magic hands behind your beautiful collection?
Teamwork is key and I am happy to say that I work with people who inspire me, as I hope I inspire them. The creation of our collections, their style and visual representation of our campaigns, is a joint effort between me, artist Edite Kirse, stylist Santa Bindemane, and a highly-qualified knitware and sewing crew. Each collection is a collaboration between approximately 30 people, each of whom puts a lot of love and passion into their work. I know each and every one of them personally, and we have been working together from the beginning. It is a privilege to have a team like this.
How is a normal day in the office ? Do you have any other team members at PAADE to introduce to us?
I spend my days in “4 Seasons”. I don’t mean the luxury hotel! Luxury work instead (currently FW13/14, SS14, FW14/15 and SS15). Early mornings, late evenings and occasional nights on are spent reading emails, working with social media and reading, while daytime is devoted to the studio, and to meetings with clients, suppliers, stylists and artists. Afternoons and evenings are dedicated to my kids, school, activities, dinner and so on. 20% of my day is spent in the metal box of my car and about 2-3 hours with a phone pressed to my ear!
While the time at our disposal is not huge, we are very competent. I create the collections, working with artists and stylists, and head marketing and production process. My husband Arvis is the book-keeper and master of all things finance (patient man). I am extremely grateful to have two lovely assistants, Anna and Marion, who deal with a million tiny details.
You often work with the superstar stylist Santa Bindemane, owner of the blog KidsGazette. How do you know each other ?
That is a funny one ! We were sitting down the other day and actually tried to remember how it first happened. Santa had done a shoutout to Latvian brands, so she could represent them on her blog. I had just created the first, experimental Paade mini collection. The article needed photos … so I asked Santa if she wanted to help me out with that. That is how Santa actually started styling children’s photoshoots. Through that process, our friendship formed. I value Santa’s professional interest, attitude and devotion very highly.
When you were little, what was your dream job?
To be a stage artist (singer, actor) and a teacher. And I have achieved both ! I play the guitar, have been a singer in a band, have done concerts, played theatre. My first education was that of a teacher. I have spent most of my life between the artistic and academic fields.
What, for you, is Paade’s greatest success so far?
International recognition and interest both from professionals and clients. While creating the first collections for Paade, I was not aiming to get into the international market; I wanted to keep it to myself, to Latvia, intimate. Then Deborah Beau did an article on Paade Mode. That turned everything upside down, as suddenly international, popular blogs and media started to show a lot of interest in our brand. I started to receive orders from Europe and Asia. It made me re-evaluate my goals and truly has made my day a lot more active. While participating in international exhibitions, meeting clients from all over the world, we receive a lot of love and praise. It is both humbling and nice.
Any new projects or secrets to share with us for the future ?
In the nearest future I would like to build Paade Mode as well a known label in Europe and Asia, we still follow our key values in slow fashion traditions. In the production of the collection the company emphasizes on the organic and ethical approach. Technologies used are child and environment friendly, handmade and socially and economically conscious. Paade Mode is a lifestyle label!
Starting with FW14/15, our collections will have an accessories line (bags, necklaces, headbands), and in upcoming seasons we will also have capsule adult collections, which already are attracting interest.
As the European capital of culture this year, could you recommend the best places to check in Riga for a visit ?
Yes, Riga is indeed the European Capital of Culture this year! I think it is an honour and good for as as locals as well. It seems like events get a lot more exposure and advertisement so we are more in the know of what is happening in the world of culture here. During the whole month of May all of Old Town was full with these giant, colourful snail sculptures to promote the creating of Modern Art’s Museum. Kids loved it! There are quite a few museums, concerts, festivals to attend (e.g. Positivus music festival taking place in July is very child friendly). A few parks have family days every weekend with various activities. October will be the kid’s culture month with events in museums and galleries around Riga. Places to visit if coming with kids are the Open Air Museum, Botanical Gardens and Zoo. And Riga is also wonderful to just stroll around, because of its wonderful Art Nouveau architecture. For more detailed info about various activities and events you can visit this website.
Where can we find Paade around the world?
Paade Mode products are available in more that 20 sales venues in Finland, France, Israel, Italy, Japan, Latvia, the Netherlands, Russia, South Korea, Spain, Turkey and the USA.
Thanks a lot,
Interview by Deborah Sfez