Global Young Designer Spotlight: Sleeper

Global Young Designer Spotlight: Sleeper

Sleeper wants to change your waking wear. These luxe pyjamas are made for those (aka all of us) who’ve longed to roll straight from bed to boardroom. We caught up with the design duo behind this life-changing brand.

longed to saunter straight from bed to boardroom, without
the need to change from pjs to power suit en route? If the answer
is “yes” (and for anyone with a persistent 6am alarm, how could it
not be?) Sleeper, the Ukrainian brand with utmost respect for chic
personal style and Z-catching, is about to make you feel seen.

In fact, Sleeper itself is the byproduct of a power nap (but
more on that later). Having swooned over the plume-lined pyjama
bottoms and
linen smock dresses, we were giddy to meet the Katya (Kate)
Zubarieva and Asya Varetsa, the design duo behind this
life-changing brand (and that’s not hyperbole).

Designer: Sleeper

Origin: Kiev

Homebase: Kiev and New

Type of brand: Sleepwear-as-leisurewear

Where did you grow up?

Kate: I was born in Kiev, and spent most of my
childhood in North Korea. My father served in the military and my
mother worked as a journalist.

Asya: I was born in Essentuki, Russia to a
family of archaeologists and grew up in Moscow.

Define your brand:

We’re the first “walking sleepwear” brand.

Unpack the “walking sleepwear” concept for us…

Asya and Kate: It’s pajamas which can be worn
outside. You can wear a pajama top to the office instead of a
regular shirt, or a silk robe can function as a summer coat – our
silk white pajamas can even serve as a wedding outfit.

What’s the allure in wearing PJs all day?

Asya and Kate: You wake up in your pajamas,
throw over a coat, slip in sneakers or mules, and voila: you are
ready to go out for your morning cup of coffee. We wanted to create
something that surpasses its original and expected purpose.

How does the name Sleeper connect with your brand?

Kate: Our company started with the dream and
the name totally reflects the story of our brand and the philosophy
behind it.

Asya: The idea to create Sleeper occurred for
Kate during a deep Christmas-time nap after watching Curly Sue. She
dreamed she was standing in the middle of a pajama factory. Kate
shared her dream with me and, six months later, Sleeper launched
its first collection.

Do you consider Sleeper a Ukrainian label?

Kate: Yes, for sure. I manage operations and
finances from our headquarters in Podil – my favourite district –
in Kiev.

Asya: I am based in NY, from where I oversee
sales, marketing, PR, content and customer support teams. I also
used to live in Podil, but moved to New York’s Carroll Gardens area
at the beginning of the year and have no plans to leave. Everything
you might need is really close, there are lots of farmers markets,
butcher shops and parks, which I really like.

What does your creative process look like?

Asya and Kate: We oversee the design process
together because our differences complement each other
constructively. Kate thrives on art, history, colours and texture
and I am deeply inspired by modern design, architecture, forms and
shapes. The best solutions appear to be somewhere in the middle of
our likes and dislikes.

You also carry a bridal range. Tell us about that…

Kate: We just let ourselves imagine how chic
and cool it would be to get married in silk sleepwear, which can
perfectly flatter bride’s shapes and make her feel comfortable, but
still stylish. No matter where your ceremony takes place – by the
seaside, in the woods or at the city hall – it’s all about being
honest, happy, feeling loved, supported and not overcomplicating
things. We’re planning to expand our bridal line with the new
designs very soon.

Where are your materials sourced?

Asya and Kate: Currently we work with suppliers
from Belarus,
and Turkey. We consider our suppliers meticulously, and
closely study materials before sourcing. We aim to select
responsible textiles. For example, our silk is sourced from an
Oeko-Tex certified factory in China, which indicates that the
textile product is free from certain groups of harmful substances.
Our suppliers use environmentally friendly azo-free dyes as

Why the switch from publishing to fashion design?

Asya: At the time, both of us were unemployed.
Kate left the position of editor-in-chief of PINK online to pursue
her second education in theological studies, whereas I left my job
in Moscow and moved to Kiev to be with my fiancé. Our experiences
pushed us to create something new, something that belonged to

The Atlanta is probably your most iconic piece, but which is
your favourite?

Kate: My favourite is Atlanta linen dress in
Polka Dot. Asya: … and mine is Black Tie pajama

Is travelling a source of inspiration?

Kate: Of course! Traveling is a huge source of
inspiration for me. You always return from a trip and feel you’re a
slightly different person. For me travelling is not about having a
rest, but more about exploring the world and myself.

Asya: Kate and I travel together at least once
a year; it helps us breathe in the new ideas. The last trip we took
together was to Japan – it had a great influence on our latest

Three destinations on your travel wishlist:

Kate: Kamchatka,
South Korea

and Seoul.

What are your go-to airport outfits?

Kate: If it’s warm, I’ll wear my favourite navy
linen pajama set with trousers and a pair of Sleeper shearling
slippers. If it’s cold outside I’ll go for a comfy knitted cashmere
set with trousers and add the compression socks. Also, a Korean
sheet mask is a must.

Asya: Ha – we are basically twins in the way we
dress to the airport. I also always wear our slippers and combine
them with the black silk pajama – I’ve been wearing this set for
about three years now and it’s my absolute favourite.

Advice on lightweight dressing for summer…

Kate: Give preference to natural fabrics such
as linen or batiste, always choose the loose silhouettes, pick
shoes which are made with natural materials and say no to high

Asya: Also, crop tops and sport bras are great
for the heat.

What else is in your SUITCASE?

Kate: My first aid kit, a swimsuit (I adore
swimming) and a good book.

Asya: Candies for the team and samples for the

What are you reading right now?

Kate: The Compromise by Sergei Dovlatov and The
Museum of Innocence by Orhan Pamuk.

Asya: Nonviolent Communication: A Language of
Life by Marshall B. Rosenberg.

Any good podcasts that you’re listening to?

Asya: I love podcasts! Second Life, Stupid
Genius by Emma Chamberlain and The Glossy Podcast are my personal

What’s next for Sleeper?

Asya: This year we want to open an office in
New York. We also foresee Sleeper beginning offline sales at pop-up
stores in the city, as well as seasonal sales at resort locations
during the summer. We’re also planning to launch a woolen line at
winter resorts. We think that these initiatives will guide us in
terms of where we should open our first brick-and-mortar store.

Kate: We will also strive to create ecological
models for production and internal relationships at the company.
Design doesn’t end with the garment – it also represents the way
the clothing is produced.

Kate’s Pocket Guide to Kiev:

STAY: Hotel Salute or BURSA.

EAT: Adelle, Yaroslavna and Sho.

DO: Take a walk around Podil and along
Andriyivskyy Descent, and explore Kiev Pechersk Lavra (the
Monastery of the Caves).

SHOP: Syndicate for contemporary Ukrainian
streetwear; TSUM (third floor) for modern Ukrainian designers;
Goodbuyfashion for a great vintage catch.

Asya’s Pocket Guide to New York:

STAY: Rent an Airbnb in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn.

EAT: Popina.

DO: The Duplex Piano Bar and Cabaret

SHOP: The RealReal.

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