Ekstrakt.me had a little interview with the creators of Odessa’ brand “DOMANOFF” – Dima and Alena. The brand was founded in 2005 and has made a long and exciting journey from a small designer atelier to a competent participant of Kiev Fashion Week.
Ekstrakt: Tell us how you chose your profession and how did you end up working together under the brand Domanoff?
Dima: First of all, we should say that the choice of the profession wasn’t spontaneous, rather a consequence of my life experience. From early childhood my biggest passion was creation of something extraordinary and new. And, of course, this passion further lead to an understanding of what I would like to do in my life. I think it’s how it works for every person, who knows since childhood what he wants or has some dreams and wishes whether it’s a design or airplane building, When you know what you want and what interests you in the end your life will take you there. That’s why I can say that I didn’t really have a choice; rather it was a logical life path that leads me to my current occupation.
Alena: I guess it’s not an accident that we work together, as we both had similar way into this profession, starting from early childhood. We started to work together very early and at the age of 19 we knew what is our aim for the future. We had plenty of experience working together at other design houses and I guess it helped us to understand that we are perfectly cut to work together. Later we both started to aim higher and have ambitions, that formed our own concept of fashion and style – I guess this was the moment when the brand Domanoff was formed.
Ekstrakt: How do you divide the responsibilities between each other?
Dima: We’ve been working together for quite sometime, that’s why all the responsibilities are already distributed. We know exactly, who is better in what and each of us chooses to do, what he does best. For example, I’m really good at catching the idea of the new collection, drawing it, producing it to a certain degree and form, and Alena never stops me from that. We know that this is my area of work. As for fabrics, buttons, zips, construction details and final production of the garment – I can’t do it without Alena. There is no specific differentiation of who does what, it just that we both are heading to reach the same goal and help each other.
Alena: We learned within time to understand each other to such a degree that we do not need to distribute the responsibilities any more. We know and feel each other very well. The only way in which we make a division is that the more creative part is on Dima, and everything that stands for technical part and financial is on me.
Ekstrakt: What in your opinion is more important art or business part in terms of what you are doing? And if there is no priority how do you find the balance?
Dima: I really appreciate that in the past few years I start to get this type of questions from journalists. Before it was one interview out of ten when people actually ask us about business part of our profession. Now when we are asked more often by the press about our yearly income, sales percentage, customers etc. we understand that fashion is slowly becoming a business in our country and it is a good sign for us. We must understand it really well that fashion is about art and fashion is about business. You cannot forget about the artistic part, because this is why we are in fashion, this is why we breathe and live day by day. But at the same time we cannot forget that this is a work and money not only for us, but also for all people in our team. There is a big team behind the brand Domanoff – starting from the fabric suppliers and seamstress to our managers and partners.
Alena: We are really trying to find a kind of a balance between the business and art. You don’t have to completely get involved into the business part of the brand, because once you start to understand that it is all about getting profit – you will break and loose the point, you would stop to be a designer. Fashion is an art, which you have to be able to sell well. Finding a balance when your project becomes interesting, unique, and new and at the same time commercially successful – is a work of many years, and this is exactly what we are working on every day.
Ekstrakt: Let’s talk about the materials you prefer to work with? How would you explain your choice and is it difficult to find good quality fabrics in Odessa? It is a big deal to get a good money-value balance in terms of fabric suppliers in Moscow how is the situation in Ukraine?
Dima: We are well aware about the situation with fabrics in Moscow; as we spoke with make Russian designers who prefer to shop for fabrics outside Moscow, since it’s pretty expensive. We have a little bit different situation. Though we had to change few fabric suppliers during past few years: we had experience working with Dutel, French manufacture, we bought laces from them. But we started to look for a different concept and had to change many suppliers because of that search for something really interesting. Now Domanoff has a kind of “Scandinavian” style, and needs different fabrics to represent it.
Alena: We decided to stop using jacquard, that is very expensive lately, and laces. We mostly use Italian fabrics (jersey and wool) and French silk. We prefer to work with natural fabrics and use them mostly. Though of course you may find some pieces with partly synthetic fabrics, but it can be explained by the need to create a specific “architecture” of the garment using natural fabrics: some are more soft and easy to crease.
Ekstrakt: Could you describe the image you have for your ideal client?
Dima: We create clothes for people, who understand what they are wearing. These are mostly women, after 25 years with an established sense of style. I don’t think it is possible to wear our garments else wise. It will not enhance your wardrobe rather ask to create a new one. It is not a flashy t-shirt that you can put on with everything, and it’s important to understand it. That’s why our client – it’s a person with a creative set of mind, ready for experiments and creating emotions. We never make distinction between our star clients and others. They all are equally important for us, regardless whether the person buys just one or ten pieces – we will still be happy to have him!
Alena: We have created a big client base within the years. Of course, some people leave, new people arrive. And there are people, who are with us from our very first days. As our brand develops, so do our clients, for some this process of evolution goes in a different direction to ours, to others we are still relevant. Today, we have a lot of clients who are really dear to us, whom we love and admire. Sometimes they feel our clothes better then even we do and this is an incredible feeling!
Ekstrakt: And of course, final question – what do you see for you, your brand and the industry in the future? What changes are you hoping to see or maybe bring yourself?
Dima: We are absolutely sure that the next few years are going to bring Domanoff a brand big change, which is why we are so targeted on our aims. We know, that almost every day of our work brings us fruits. We are also hoping that the brand will soon be presented in the new markets and we will get more clients and fans all over the world and grow with them.
Interview by Veta Belinskaya.