With Gwynnie Bee, you can try out the latest styles and we love to see our members experimenting with their style. This is particularly true when it comes to prints– you can try a bold look without the commitment! so we’re thrilled to bring you exclusive prints from designer Nikki Martinkovic. We sat down and chatted with Nikki whose modern, yet playful designs can be seen on Gwynnie Bee brands Jete and Isabel + Alice. We talked inspiration, the creative process, and why cool prints belong in plus size fashion.
About a year ago, Nikki Martinkovic took the plunge and started her own print label. She began as an in-house fashion designer at Alice + Olivia and Milly before she ventured out on her own. From that experience, she refined her eye for color. You’ll find her prints are a bright palette paired with an unexpected muted color to elevate feel of the piece. From her previous design experience, she also brought with her an eye for print placement when it’s on the body. She considers the right scale for the pattern, a sense of movement and of course, “Is it creating any provocative shapes, if you know what I mean?”, she tells us laughing.
Each of her prints has a distinct and unique personality; she explains it’s a priority of hers. No two prints will look even similar, a remarkable feat considering she creates about 300-400 prints monthly. Her creative process starts with combing through about six years of archival inspiration to consider how artists of the past could play in the contemporary world of today (recently Cy Twombly and Pollack are catching her eye). “Before getting into my creative space, I make it a point to spend a couple hours really diving into my research to really get my head wrapped around what I think is important. This allows me to not just create prints but really have a perspective and understanding what I want in the collection and what I think defines the pulse of the world around us.” She paints sitting on the floor, surrounded by her mood boards, telling us, “I never get wrapped up in a blank piece of paper – I am not afraid to dive right in and make a mess!”
All of Nikki’s prints are hand painted. She currently is “obsessing” over sumi ink and watercolor, particularly gouache, which is a paint that can be used with a dry brush with to create texture, or wet as a watercolor. Once these original paintings are scanned into her computer, she composes the art into a pattern and scale she loves. She’ll often add a digital design element and collage her hand paintings with original photos or other digital images.
Right now, she personally loves the print she created for the Isabel + Alice Floral Printed Skater Skirt, it’s a print she “just can’t stop thinking about”, which combines hand painted flowers with a digital kaleidoscope flower. Nikki tells us she loves seeing this skirt on our members and loves reading the reviews they write. It’s direct feedback on what our members are loving right now, and she says she’ll pocket the information as she creates future prints for us.
Nikki thinks working to create prints for us is a great experience. She curates the clients she works with and she finds Gwynnie Bee to be a great partner. “I love that [Gwynnie Bee] is really breaking the mold and giving fashion forward options for the plus size market.” She sees a gap in the plus market for cool and interesting prints and is thrilled to be a part of bringing them to us.
You can see Nikki’s prints on the Jete Tiger Printed Scuba Shell Top, the Jete Linear Geometric Printed Blouse, and the Isabel + Alice Collage Printed Long Sleeve Asymmetric Tunic just to name a few. We’ve got over 30 prints we’ll be launching in the upcoming seasons to add a little pop to your virtual closets!
Photography by Trévon James