Ivana Biočina, Institute for Sustainable Fashion

02-Ivana Biočina (27)

Ivana Biočina is an author, textile engineer, designer and founder of the Institute for Sustainable Fashion. The Institute's work encompasses researching yarn and textile production using locally grown and harvested raw materials. Additionally, it focuses on education and promotion of the concept of sustainable textiles, while also rethinking organizational approaches and their subsequent commercial applications.

Name of Craft in the local language
Ivana Biočina, Institut održive mode (IOM)
Type of Craft
Sustainable fashion, sustainable business model ideas in the context of fashion, upcycling natural dyeing, research on natural raw material (cultivation and production of yarn from flax and nettle), study of social and environmental possibilities of sustainable fashion, textiles and production, theory of social and environmental possibilities of sustainable fashion, textiles and production
Knowledge Holder
Ivana Biočina
Location, Website
Križevačka cesta 47g, 48000 Koprivnica, Croatia; Link to website
Type of Business
Newly founded
Year of Establishment

Workshop and sales space
Workshop with an area of 36 m2; Sales on social network (instagram.com/institutodrzivemode/)
Antique and organic linen, hemp, cotton, silk and wool, local plants, barks, roots, berries, leaves, wood, fungi, SCOBY for natural dyes fermentation, flax and nettle
Technology / Tools / Machines
Industrial, antique and hand-made machines and tools for sewing, spinning and dyeing
Techniques / Processes
Tailoring, cutting and shaping by hand, natural dye making / natural dyeing from foraged plants, preparation of mordants for improving the stability of natural colour; dye extraction: soaking in the direct sunlight until the intensity of the colour stops getting stronger; methods for natural dyeing: fermentation dyeing, solar dyeing, custom sun-printing
Members / Employees
Miran Strelec, master tailor (collaborator)
No official apprenticeship but focused on sharing the acquired knowledge online among the established regional community as well as through public lectures, workshops and training courses for selected groups
Education of the Craftsperson
Faculty of Textile Technology, Graduate University studies of Textile and Fashion Design, Master’s Degree

Best-selling product
Antique linen, cotton and wool blouse, vest and dress
Average time of production
Single clothing item production can range from 3 days to between 1 to 2 weeks, while the process of natural dyeing can last up to a few months (made in batches to optimize efficiency)
Average price per item
30 – 160 EUR

Ivana Biočina is a textile engineer, fashion designer, founder of the Institute for Sustainable Fashion and published author of 3 books exploring the textile industry, its history, influences and impact as well as forming the grounds for sustainable fashion movement.

With an academic background in theory and research, Ivana established the Institute for Sustainable Fashion (IOM) in northern Croatia in 2020. The Institute focuses on local artisanal production of sustainable clothing and educates about sustainable fashion, including its social and environmental aspects, as well as ideas for sustainable business in the fashion industry.

Clothes at IOM are handmade responsibly, free from toxins and plastics, and dyed using natural plant-based dyes. Every garment made in IOM is one of a kind, unique. The Institute aims for organic growth and collaborates closely with local women and small businesses interested in approaching sustainability and upcycling.

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The Institute is situated in Podravina, nestled between the mountainsides of Bilogora and Kalnik in the north-western part of Croatia. It sits on the wetlands formed by the Drava river, creating a rich natural habitat that provides a unique setting for a workshop divided into three separate areas. The indoor space is designated for tailoring, sewing, spinning, and research, while the outdoor area is reserved for natural dyeing processes, which require specific air circulation to ensure optimal preservation. The garden in the living area, spanning 0,2 hectares, is where Ivana grows flax, nettle, cotton and natural dyes, while the workshop’s proximity to a forest makes foraging of bark and local plants for dyeing easier.

Ivana uses both antique and organic materials in her clothing production. Antique linen, hemp, cotton and wool textiles are frequently upcycled into garments, while organic materials undergo additional processing by her master tailor. Sustainability remains a fundamental value throughout this process, from product design and tailoring to its end-of-life.

She has also developed a natural dyeing technique called sun-printing. This method uses rainwater, sunlight exposure, and textile manipulation to create different colour patterns. She also employs rust, iron, copper and ash for manipulating colours and patterns deriving a rich palette from light nude, gentle beige, sun yellow, to different shades of birch pink, purple, woad green, indigo blue to pure rust, nut brown and oak black.

In her ongoing material research and experimental projects, she utilizes traditional knowledge to sow, grow, and spin flax, nettles, and local plants for autonomous production.

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In addition to distributing limited editions of small clothing series – consisting of six to ten garments sold once or twice a month – each covering the entire process from upcycling to natural dyeing, IOM’s founder is also a published and acclaimed author of 3 books on Croatian textile industry and sustainable fashion: ‘Tiranija mode: Proizvedeno u Hrvatskoj: tranzicija hrvatske tekstilne industrije’ (2018), ‘Ukrašavanje kao potraga za identitetom’ (2016), ‘Modus vivendi: Ogled o političkom, ekonomskom i društvenom u modi’ (2014). Her natural dyeing practice is also featured in an upcoming book titled ‘Dye Yielding Plant-Based Phytoremediation’, published by Springer Nature.

IOM’s main goal is community building and empowerment through knowledge sharing and learning. Sustainability is the core focus of everything IOM does, from production, material sourcing, design and pattern making, sewing, packaging, end-of-life of the garment to sales, marketplace formation and positioning.