Zagreb Crafts

Ethnic Boutique Mara

Standing out with its usage of ethnic motifs from Croatian history, the boutique at Ilica 49 has been attracting domestic and foreign customers with a combination of the modern and the traditional since its opening.

In order to save traditional heritage from oblivion, Vesna Milković left her career as a lawyer to start the fashion shop Mara in 1999. She focused on traditional handcraft making and motifs from various parts of Croatia, and with her daughter Marija, a fashion designer, gradually developed the unique story of Ethnic Boutique Mara.

“When I opened the boutique, I wanted it to be special and different, so I decided to introduce the forgotten ethnic moment into the world of fashion,” says Vesna Milković and adds with pride that they often get stopped on the street in the USA because of their coats.

Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

They design women’s and men’s clothes, predominantly dresses, shirts, coats, handbags, and accessories such as scarves, brooches, or hats. Their Mara Home collection includes a wide array of items, from pillowcases to bedclothes with traditional elements. Among the motifs used the most recognizable ones are the Glagolitic script and the borders of the Baška Tablet, which adorn their wedding dresses, dresses, handbags, and other accessories. They draw their inspiration from the elements of cultural and historical monuments, but also from folk costumes, whose parts they adroitly combine to produce unique articles. The usage of the patterns of Pag and Lepoglava lace has become their signature design.

They often exhibit their designer pieces abroad, where they have been highly regarded, especially by the Croatian diaspora. “Croatia has so much to show. Wherever you turn, from Slavonia to Dalmatia, the inspiration is easily found,” says Vesna Milković, and adds that they collaborate with academicians and museum experts in their appropriation of traditional motifs for purposes of design.

Photo: Goran Stanzl/PIXSELL

Every Mara article is a unique design handcrafted by Vesna and her daughter Marija, with the rest of the Milković family also involved in the business. Suffice it to say that Vesna’s eighty-nine-year-old father makes wooden handbag handles, to which Maria then puts finishing touches.

It is their wish to be recognized as makers of true Croatian souvenirs by tourists and to familiarize the youngest ones with old Croatian motifs that they will subsequently wear with pride.

Key information
Ilica 49, 10 000 Zagreb
01-4806-511 / 091-112-2352
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