The Influence

Julie Pelipas

Ukraine born and London dwelling, tech and fashion entrepreneur Julie Pelipas talks about her changemaking brand and her love of tailoring

By Harriet Quick

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Tell us about you mission to make old cool again with Bettter.

Bettter was in my mind for 3 years while I was working as fashion director of Vogue Ukraine. I really helped create these impactful themed issues like the breakthrough Black issue at the time of Maidan the revolution in 2014 with a tiny team and with tiny budgets. I had been working in fashion magazines for ten years and I wanted to leave on a high note and put my energies into this company that sits at the nexus of tech and fashion. The concept was to develop a tech solution for reimagining and upcycling deadstock that can be utilised by companies worldwide and Bettter the brand itself is the proof of concept.

It was a precise mission and it was born out of my experience at Vogue witnessing how designers struggle to keep up with the seasons and the waste and deadstock created from over production. The classic fashion system does not have a solution for the enormous volumes of unsold stock that sits in warehouses and is sometimes burnt and this is a real challenge. Despite the fact that fashion is a really fast reacting medium at the same time there is resistance to change. Companies need to step into upcycling as this is the biggest bottle neck but there needs to be a process and a sustainable system. Bettter is a B2B tech solution to revaluate stock and create a new financial stream from upcycling which in itself is a beautiful story.

Julie Pelipas Street Style

@juliepelipas // Instagram

What is the process behind Bettter? 

We remake and reconstruct menswear suiting into women’s clothes using garments that we buy or are donated. Suits offer a brilliant construction that has been developed over the centuries, and one can build tech around metrics using a smart design algorithm that auto matches and calculates what that garment can be converted into. It cuts out the manual work that previously made upcycling financially unviable.

Tell us about the designs?

It’s a line for modern woman which is very functional, unique: true fashion, true values, true quality. The beauty of upcycling is that you can convert a blazer into a dress, or trousers into a skirt and create garments that you have not seen or worn before. Good design is all about proportion and that’s what we start with. I always test the prototypes and I’m excited by the new blazer/bomber jacket that lands in November.

The Norman Set // Instagram


BETTTER in Denizen Magazine // Instagram

"The beauty of upcycling is that you can convert a blazer into a dress, or trousers into a skirt and create garments that you have not seen or worn before."

How has the LVMH prize impacted on the business?

It helps a lot, opens doors, and gets people excited. I’m a fighter and I’m going to knock on all the doors as Bettter is my kid and it is only a matter of time before brands adopt it. The business is financed privately with the help of my husband who works in Fintech. 

It has been challenging. When the Ukraine war broke out we lost the R&D centre in Kyiv and relocated all 30 staff to Europe but I am optimistic and see a big future for it.

The Wrap Suit // Instagram

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Julie Pelipas at Fashion Week // Instagram

What do you wear for red carpet events?

When I was invited to the British Fashion Awards to accept the Changemakers Prize, I knew it was a once in a lifetime moment. I went to a vintage menswear store near my son’s school in Kensington owned by this great Italian man, Orlando and found a bespoke tuxedo tailcoat. I converted the trousers into a skirt and cut out the back of the tailcoat – it was so comfortable and I believe women really need this membrane of confidence when performing on stage, or at conferences whether in the arts, in politics, in or in law. Women’s suits are often too tight, too high on the waist but men’s suits can transform any man into James Bond. I want women to have that structure and smartness. After all, women are great entrepreneurs and leaders. I dressed the First Lady of Ukraine in for a family portrait for the cover of Vogue Ukraine in 2019. I’m so proud of that image and she then asked me for styling sessions and I developed a toolkit for her with a cornerstone of tailoring. 

How about your own wardrobe?

I learnt how to build a wardrobe but only now aged 40, is it optimized! I have a small selection with the right items: shirts, blazers, jeans, trousers, and Japanese cotton James Perse T shirts. I treat these 3 Ts like precious items as the brand ran out of this cotton.  

I also love my feminine side and being in a happy loving relationship, I want to wear a dress for date nights. The quality and craft of Nensi Dojaka is wonderful and I also wear pieces by my friend, Anna October.

Julie Pelipas in BETTTER // Instagram

Editorial Shoot feat. Julie Pelipas

@juliepelipas by @andrew.greyy // Instagram

When it comes to jewellery and accessories…

I have a Balenciaga clutch bag made from an upcycled car wing mirror: you can check your make up! The Row is such good quality and I live my life in the Margaux bag. While very expensive if I buy a piece, I know I will really use it and that makes me happy. My wedding ring is bespoke and I also collect Ana Khouri – such beautiful designs.

What about your taste in art and design?

I was in the artworld before fashion and as a student I worked as an anchor for a TV cultural show. I love primitivism: it reinforces my belief in art and makes you understand what it is to be human. Francis Bacon is an all-time hero. And I adore the modern dance choreographer Crystal Pite: her work is breath taking. 

How do you find head space?

I love surfing and heavy techno raves. Once a month I go to a real techno party – the sounds bring me into the mindset where I can invent things, not interpret. That’s the magic of techno: the rhythm increases your heartbeat to a level that you become hyper alert and high on your own body rhythm.

Cy Twombly, Untitled

@juliepelipas // Instagram

Julie Pelipas feat. Bettter

@juliepelipas by @aks // Instagram


Your circle of experts?

The biggest teacher in life is yourself; and I believe you need to constantly self-develop. If your body is broken, your mind is broken so I keep active and do Ashtanga yoga regularly as it helps with hormone balance and that’s so fundamental for women. You need to unlock your energy and let it flow so you can really live life. Confession: I used to be a sugar addict and cutting sugar has helped so much. An apple a day is enough!


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