They call themselves warriors of equal rights and the new era of fashionistas. Where some might feel uncomfortable by seeing how they wear silk pajamas and fur coats in public transport, others love the way they speak to their audience and how they inspire people to stand out. Lithuanian fashion brand Pretty Ugly consists of a trio of creative design and social experiments: there is Creative Director Augustė, Fashion Director Justina and Producer & Creative Strategist Justė. Let the weird begin.
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Who is your audience and what’s your message?
Augustė: Pretty Ugly speaks up about something what is considered to be kinky or inconsistently beautiful and encourages others to reconsider it. We open what is uncomfortable to know, but true. We maneuver between boundaries of beauty and ugliness. Our audience contains of people who seek inspiration online and even though we avoid of speaking of genders, our audience is mostly girls. 
Justina: Pretty Ugly is a movement that uses creativity to break free from the stereotypes we grew up with and to learn to open our mind. People we are talking to is everyone who needs encouragement in being himself / herself. Mostly we try to reach teenagers, who are imprisoned by certain convictions in their environment and media. We believe it prevents them from individual maturity and joy of life as who they are.
Justė: In Pretty Ugly we state that there is no single standard of beauty. Our movement is based on a concept that we all are different and that what we actually find as a personal disadvantage may turn into something that makes us exceptional and even get others envy of! In Pretty Ugly we try to inspire people of fashion variations and how it may become a way to self-expression.
How would you define Lithuanian creativity in terms of European context?
Augustė: Very “safe” and too little provocative. Lithuanian designers and creatives seek to align with Western standards, however, are rarely surprising with brave solutions. Creatives believe there are too little people with artistic educational background in Lithuania and the rest who are performing in this field are afraid to be misunderstood by the wider society.
Justina: Lithuanians are immensely interesting personalities. Sometimes they suffer from post-soviet problematic, which can possibly turn into a piece of art. I see Lithuanians as kind of reserved, yet, very ambitious and creative people.
Justė: I would describe our creatives as “safe” with a reference to “boring”. There’s a saying that you may improve candle as much as you want, but it will never turn into a light bulb. Same with our creatives’ work: something has to be changed from the basics in order to extract new, courageous and extraordinary results.
Why do you think it’s important to speak about equal rights and what social problems inspire you to do so?
Augustė: Fashion is not just a form of entertainment. In my opinion it’s a very powerful tool to draw attention and solve social issues. 
Justina: For a very long time there was no discussion on equal rights and that led to conclusion that some genders and races are superior to the others. Due to lack of education and criticism on this topic, such thinking was taken as a standard and societies didn’t even try to question it. I believe this was a cause for disruption between many social groups, where one’s existence became an obstacle for another. I would say this is my inspiration to create and let everyone expand their limits of tolerance. 
Justė: Once a person spends all the energy to fight against social embarrassment instead of self-development, it becomes a problem. In this way society develops much slower. Instead of thinking whether your idea will be accepted, you doubt whether it’s going to be heard at all because of belonging to one or another sub-culture or social group. We have to stop thinking that everyone has the same size of shoes and pretending that wearing it is comfortable.
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Do you want to change the world? What should it be?
Augustė: Yes, I want to change the world, but starting from my own social environment. Everyone lives in their own universes and we should respect it. 
Justina: Of course we do want to change it! Surely, the world is already so interesting as it is, but Pretty Ugly tries at least to contribute that everyone would have a bit more of empathy.
Justė: The world is as perfect as it is. All is up to your attitude. Firstly, we have to be in peace with ourselves in order for the rest to find its place.
Your brand philosophy talks about women. What is for you the perfect happy woman?
Augustė: We try to avoid confusion that Pretty Ugly is made for women. Our philosophy states that a person is not his/her gender, race, age or profession. We try to inspire our audience to seek who they really are. Our weapon is fashion and positivity, which, I think, is contagious.
Justina: We do speak about feminism, but this is a term to express equal rights in society. We do not provide the “how to become a happy woman” recipe. I can reply on what I think a happy human being is: this is someone who is able to love, sympathize and does in life whatever he or she thinks is right, but not what’s dictated by social standards.
Justė: In my opinion a happy woman is someone who is ambitious and brave. Once you are brave enough to fulfill your secret wishes, you become content. Of course, empathy is a very important factor for happiness as well.
What is your inspiration?
Augustė: People. Old people, fictional people, people who pretend to be animals, people who are filled with energy. I’m an observer. My latest inspiration was an old woman sizing extraordinary hats in a store; she reminded me of the fact that sometimes we waste time waiting for the right moment. I can create the right moment anytime.
Justina: I have many idols. Yet, I try not to turn them into mini gods, because no one is perfect. But since you asked, that would be Beyoncé. Gosh, even time is subject to her wish!
Justė: I’m inspired by music in general. Music is a perfect form of art and communication, which is able to create powerful movements. The ability to talk to society inspires me.
Is your collection made for commercial reasons or will it remain as Pretty Ugly symbol?
Justina: Everything started from Girl Power – it was an experimental collection, a manifestation that brought our message about “what is beautiful” to the public. This collection was a beginning and it enhanced people to rethink once more that sometimes what we find beautiful is actually absurd. In the near future we will work on the Pretty Ugly collection, but it will remain a separate concept from what we started with Girl Power.
Justė: The first collection was symbolic. Future collections will stay provocative and hold the same type of symbolism in a more subtle way. We seek that each of the garments in our collection would reflect a certain social problem and evolve into separate discussion. Therefore, future collections might be more inviting for the wider society to join and discuss.
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What are today’s teenagers and what should they know about themselves?
Justina: We loved the idea that during the Girl Power event we not only surprised our audience, but also found out many things about teenagers. It helped us to move on with our future projects. Today’s teenagers are enthusiastic, eager to act and experience new things, but at the same time lost and really afraid to fail. I do believe this is normal once you are young. The most important thing is to know that failure is nothing bad and multiple experiences make your life juicy.
Justė: Contemporary youth is inspired not by super stars but by certain online influencers. These influencers seem to attract by being similar and close to their followers. The feeling of being similar to someone, experiencing same problems, creates communities. Surely, it is important to know that the level of popularity of an influencer is not equal to his / her values. Some teenagers are super sensitive to online communication and confusion with their values can cause different types of reactions.
Do you think drama or sadness is an essential driver for creativity?
Augustė: It can be as necessary, but doesn’t have to be. I am a person who tries to diminish the level of drama in my life. However, it’s unavoidable, just like any other emotion. Every person is responsible for what kind of emotion causes creativity.
Justina: Creativity needs stimulus. Personally, I choose situations that make me sad or angry, which I then turn into something really positive.
Justė: I think creativity comes from any type of drama or conflict. I try to focus on the positive side of those. Discussion, opening up to problems, can drive us to finding solutions. We join discussions with our own absolute attitude and sometimes it contradicts to what others think. It makes us move forward and search for creative answers.
What doe Pretty Ugly wish for a contemporary woman?
Augustė: I wish for them to be slightly ‘deaf’ to surrounding opinions. I would like them to live in a way they want, without disturbing the freedom of other individuals.
Justina: A wish for a woman, man, transgender… Please forget all dogma that are stuck in your head. Stop thinking what others think of you. Let’s try to be more empathic and do the things that fulfill you with spiritual plenitude.
Justė: I wish simplicity in attitude and to take life events less seriously. Mistakes are a natural part of the process of life. A dream becomes your purpose once you are brave enough to try something new and unknown.
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