Damir Doma’s Fashion Evolution

  • The Paris-based designer talks to JOYCE about his six-year evolution in fashion.

    31-year old Damir Doma was born in Croatia, grew up in Germany, lived in Antwerp for two and a half years and is now based in Paris. As such he represents a melting pot of ideas, which is clearly evident in his intellectual and poetic style.

    In person Doma is soft spoken and down-to-earth although he isn’t afraid to be honest. In fact he’s not your typical high-maintenance fashion designer, much like his Antwerp peers, Raf Simons and Dirk Schonberger. To my surprise, he’s far from flattered with this description.

    “I think I had my ‘click’ moment in this collection. The message is clearer. I would have got it perfect in the first collection if I were a genius, but I’m not. It took me some time to find my own aesthetic and to find the right direction.”

    “ Oh no, I wasn’t happy living in Antwerp. It was too inward looking, too small and too blocked. I much prefer Paris,” he says.

    Doma first caught the fashion world’s attention in 2008 when he debuted his men’s wear collection in Paris. Six years on and he has expanded from men’s wear to women’s wear, while launching a diffusion line called Silent.

    “I feel mature and old in this business but I’m not! I do 10 collections a year. Some designers only do two collections a year, so there is a lot of output from my brain. Sometimes I do feel exhausted but most of the time, I get more creative with more collections, it’s the constant flow of creativity and the development is much quicker for me,” he reveals.

    More recently he celebrated the opening of his first stand-alone store on the prestigious fashionable Rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré in Paris. The event was a big achievement for the designer considering that he doesn’t have the backing of a large fashion conglomerate.

    “The day I decided to go down this path I knew that it wouldn’t be easy. Therefore, this first stand-alone shop is a milestone for us. It’s important to have our own store to strengthen our identity, because when the collections are shown in a multi-label stores, it’s more about the buyers’ taste, which is not necessarily mine.”

    “The ideal scenario for a designer is to stock online, in multi-label stores and to have his own stand-alone shop. For this, I’m grateful that I’m with JOYCE. It’s one of the most beautiful shops in the world with great editing. There aren’t many great multi-label stores in today’s world, in my mind, maybe five,” he says.

    Doma’s work is very much influenced by the early works of Issey Miyake, Giorgio Armani and Salvatore Ferragamo in the 1970s. His conceptual use of fabric and precise tailoring are prominent themes in his designs. For spring/summer 2013, the collection focuses on structured, sharp tailoring in silk, leather and cotton, with a neutral, olive and blue palette. His usual ethereal quality remains although it is injected with a hefty dose of urban wearability.

    “I think I had my ‘click’ moment in this collection. The message is clearer. I would have got it perfect in the first collection if I were a genius, but I’m not. It took me some time to find my own aesthetic and to find the right direction. Thanks to my team and particularly my girlfriend, who gave me a reality check. I trust my team and it’s important that they are a group of good people, who never talk rubbish just to please me,” he says.

    Thanks to this “group of good people” he has also been able to grow his label in many other categories. Damir Doma was one the first fashion labels to explore the digital arena by combining digital film with the traditional catwalk presentation.

    “Everyone working with me is very young so it’s only natural for us to explore the new medium as a way to express ourselves. Unlike some traditional brands who jump into the digital platform with some crazy social network…” he says.

    Interview by Lucienne Leung-DaviesPhotos by Filep Motwary