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While Bulgarian folk dresses are usually considered old-fashioned and worth a place in a museum vitrine, there are designers who manage to reinvent them and find them a humble place in the fast-paced, digitally dominated life of the contemporary Bulgarian. If you like the bright colors and complex embroideries of Bulgarian folk fashion, here’s where to find it in a modern, wearable version.
The two founders of Shevitza, Petar Stankov and Gergana Stankova, always start with elaborate research at ethnographic museums, private folk textile collections, and old books in order to find the most particular and unique designs of traditional Bulgarian textile designs. Then they take them as the base, stripped of everything archaic, and bring them back to life as stylized prints on scarves and blankets. You can even get their Motif Maker game and experiment with your own motifs.
Tsvetomir Petkov and Zdravko Zelengorski are the two young designers behind the fashion brand Vezba. The main focus is on the classic embroidery motifs that were loaded with meaning in the past by symbolizing fertility, stopping evil spirits, or acting as “magic” for good health. Today, these symbols can be seen mainly in folk-furnished restaurants or museums, but Vezba makes it easier to incorporate them into your everyday clothing by adding them to T-shirts. Every motif from Vezba comes with an explanation of its meaning.
The Bulgarian word for a traditional folk outfit is nosiya, and this is the perfect name for the brand that started producing men’s and women’s T-shirts, tunics, and sweaters with delicate, stylized folk motifs. Nosiya was created as a means of funding the local media Uspelite, which is focused on positive news.
For the connoisseurs of handmade treasures, Petia Ilieva creates embroideries on textiles that are then transferred to earrings, bracelets, pendants, and more. Her jewelry brand, Kitna, is for those who like delicate yet bursting-with-color accessories in their everyday lives. Each of her pieces of jewelry holds the story and secret meaning of its embroidery, which used to be considered a magical keeper of its owner.
More and more tourists are searching for unique souvenirs that are both usable and bearing the soul and DNA of the country they visit. That’s why Fusion Embassy, the agency behind some of the best ethno bands in Bulgaria, released its earphones adorned with Bulgarian folk details. They come in four series corresponding to the four elements and four emblematic places in Bulgaria: Yantra (water), Vihren (air), Trakiya (earth), and Oratnitza (fire). Every set comes with a background history of the Bulgarian element it is presenting.
Kaliyane creates jewelry inspired by the old-time adornments of Bulgarian women. Earrings, necklaces, traditional metal belt clasps (known as pafti in Bulgarian), and bracelets combine folk motifs and contemporary style. All jewelry is produced of silver-plated hypoallergenic metal alloy.