-Teuta Matoshi is a part of the first generation of fashion designers in Kosovo, a small nation in the central Balkans. She launched her line in September 2007, specializing in high-quality, unique coats, which instantly sold out the same night they debuted. Today, Teuta creates whimsically feminine gowns and dresses that often utilize handmade skills such as embroidery and embellishment. She currently has an atelier in New York City where she sells her gowns with her sister, Lirika Matoshi, who is also a designer.
-You might immediately recognize Teuta's work from Instagram, or you may just instantly know it’s a Teuta creation by its colorful combinations of lace, tulle and embellishment. Intrinsically feminine, her work often incorporates custom boning and elegant corsets to add an element of couture-like structure and sophistication. Unconventional color combinations such as pink, green and blue are also often a prominent palette within each Teuta Matoshi design. But while she may be well-known for her work now (her fan base on Instagram alone is over 1.4m), her journey hasn’t been an easy one.
-Born near Pristina, Kosovo’s capital, Teuta is one of nine children who grew up with humble beginnings. With a mother who focused on being a stay-at-home parent and a father who worked as a teacher, Teuta was raised in poverty in a war torn world. At an early age, she taught herself to create clothing from old garments and scrap pieces for her siblings and herself. She continued making pieces and wearing them through middle school and high school, garnering endless compliments and requests from her friends and siblings. She always had the dream in mind to one day open her own boutique selling her handmade designs.
-After high school, Teuta attend Factory Desing University (one of Kosovo’s first fashion design universities) where she pursued a Fashion Design degree. Inspired by one of her mentors — David Priol, a Paris based professor she studied under while there — she developed her own aesthetic and developed even more into her own creative practice while in school, which led her to eventually founding her own line as a student. It was there where she also learned the art of draping and styling which can be so eloquently seen in her current work.
-Teuta worked her way up from being in a small shop taking custom orders for one-of-a-kind coats, mini dresses and gowns to becoming a designer who is in-demand for gowns. During the Kosovo War in the late ‘90s, just a few short years before Teuta was trying to launch her own business as a student, she struggled — production and exporting was non-existent in her country. High-quality fabrics were extremely hard to find locally, and in Pristina and its surrounding areas, it wasn’t easy to find seamstresses or highly skilled people working in fashion. As a result of this, Teuta had to travel far and wide to source her material and also had to train her entire staff (now 40 people) from scratch. Working with her sister, Sanija, who is now the head of the atelier, she networked with hundreds of people in Kosovo to build her luxury brand. She also achieved all of this as a young mother, with three children.
-Despite all this, Teuta never forgets where she came from. That’s the reason why her brand supports local women in her Pristina community through and through. Coming from a place where unemployment is particularly high, especially for women, she has had made it her mission to hire as many women as possible at her company - that includes single mothers who lost their husbands during the war as well as young women who want to build their careers in the fashion industry.
After her initial launch 16 years ago, she quickly gained national press in Kosovo. With the help of social media, it wasn’t long until she became popular on an international level too. Her clients are spread around the world, from Southern Europe to Asia and the Americas. Teuta Matoshi has also held runway shows in Dubai and New York City. Today, she collaborates frequently with her sister, Lirika Matoshi and is always at work on her next gown.