Producing the world’s first plant-leather shoes, the Insider speaks to Wiola Wiertel and Sebastian Szypuła, founders of the groundbreaking BOHEMA brand…
Made using 100% vegan materials such as pineapple, cactus and apple leather, BOHEMA is the realization of Wiola and Sebastian’s dream of “creating a fashion brand with a message”. Innovative in their approach, and sexy in their style, BOHEMA’s footwear and accessories look set to conquer not just Poland, but beyond…
What’s the back story behind BOHEMA?
S: As a little boy I used to watch my father, an experienced shoemaker, making shoes by hand, pair-by-pair. Later in my youth I started skateboarding, so street art became enmeshed with my outlook. Add to that the fact that I’ve been vegan since I was 13 and you get the beginnings of BOHEMA: we mix street art influences with craftsmanship and cruelty-free style.
What is the BOHEMA look – what do you want it to say.
S: When creating our collections, we always keep in mind what’s happening around the world – we reflect not just the things that inspire us, but also the things that scare us; after all, fashion mirrors social moods. From the outset, we’ve presented our definition of streetwear using innovative plant-based materials.
Who is the BOHEMA buyer?
W: Primarily people who are socially aware but simultaneously appreciate timeless quality. They attach great importance to craftsmanship whilst also caring for the planet; our products are eco and animal friendly, so they match the tastes of these customers perfectly.
How does Warsaw inspire you?
S: We love Warsaw’s eclectic energy, and you see that expressed in both its fashion and architecture. There’s a real big city energy here.
What was your big breakthrough moment as a brand?
W: I think it was the creation of the world’s first cactus leather shoes. Also, the opportunity to promote the brand worldwide at international fashion trade shows has been important, as has being part of the Vegan Fashion Week Society.
What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned since founding the brand?
W: First of all, creating BOHEMA taught us the value of humility and persistence. Sometimes, situations occur that are beyond your control – giving up isn’t an option, instead you need to adapt quickly while remaining close to your core values.
Who in the world of celebrity would you love to see wearing BOHEMA?
W: To be honest, anyone that has a positive impact on their fans – the kind of people that speak up on issues like animal rights or environmental protection yet are also considered style icons: that way, they’d be seen as living proof that plant-based materials can provide a great alternative to animal skin. With that in mind, we’d love to see the likes of Joaquin Phoenix, Brad Pitt, Anne Hathaway, Kate Moss, Charlize Theron, Hailey Bieber or Ellen DeGeneres in our shoes.
You’re a streetwear brand – what do the streets of Warsaw say to you!
S: It’s time for a revolution!
Tell me a Bohema secret!
W: Our new drop is made of grapes – can you believe it!?
Do you have any golden rules that you refuse to break…
S: We’ll always create cruelty-free fashion.
Of course you’ve been asked this a zillion times, but is plant-based leather as good as “the real thing”?
W: Yes, of course we’ve been asked this! The plant materials we create and use are an alternative to animal skin and provide the same qualities: they’re breathable, water resistant and durable.
Finally, who is your all time style icon? And why!
W: Definitely Kate Moss. I love her nonchalance, eclecticism and sense of rebellion. Her style and approach to fashion are very close to mine – instead of blindly following trends, she observes them and creates her own.
S: David Bowie; he really understood art and design and used that to create his own style. He was definitely a non-conformist icon!
For more on BOHEMA, see: website