Born in Croatia and raised in Germany, Damir Doma studied fashion in Munich and Berlin graduating magna cum laude for “best collection” in 2004. He then moved to Antwerp, where he was mentored under Raf Simons. In 2006, he ventured out on his own and launched his label.
One might be inclined to think that such a young designer would be destined for hardship. However, this young designer possesses all the talent, ambition, passion and vision needed to succeed. He has that brooding intensity that an artist needs to keep pressing forward. More impressive is his ability at such a young age to harness these attributes effectively. He is full of self-awareness and always in the moment, which seems to grant him the ability to stay in a perpetually serene state while looking forward. A maturity and a balance that is uniquely found in the interpretations of masculinity in his clothing.
Menswear is typically focused on structure, you seem to separate yourself from the conventional practice.
I have no interest in 'classic' menswear. I guess because I approximate the typical styling of men's clothing to be like that of a suit of armour, which tries to hide something. My concept of fashion is more of a focus on what lies underneath the physical material. I believe that beauty has to find its way out from within and the clothing must be an extension of the soul. Clothes have to be soft and loose. Thus allowing your body and your soul to feel free.
The world of fashion has always been prominently a women's market, yet you have opted to focus on menswear. Is it to reshape menswear for the reason you just stated?
Not necessarily. I've been working in menswear for quite a while now. But my philosophy is not exclusive to menswear. I also have a deep appreciation and interest in women’s wear. The gender for which I create is really of no importance. In 2003, when I started to work on men’s clothing, it was just much easier to stand out from the masses.
I think you’ve been successful in your goal to stand out from the ‘masses’; both for your designs and your use of fabrics. You seem to favor lighter fabrics. How much of a role does fabric selection factor into your approach to design?
The materials are a key point to my work. I create very fluent silhouettes, which require very soft fabrics. The materials are the foundation upon which I build.
So speaking of the influence of mediums. It is known that you are an avid appreciator of the arts. In what capacity do the arts influence your work?
I try to absorb as much inspiration as possible before I start working on a new collection. Art provides me with a certain emotional background, which i need; but sometimes it's very difficult to say which artist inspired me at which time. I see myself as a hard disk in that respect. I try to fill myself constantly and retrieve some of it when it's needed.
Do you dabble in areas of the fine arts?
I have a personal interest in painting, but I am particularly attracted to photography.
So do you feel that fashion design satisfies your artistic need to create completely?
I would say so. I am in the fortunate position to create beyond the confines of clothing. The job of a creator is to imagine a whole new world of his own and bring it to light. So I am in the position to create all the things that are "Damir Doma". It might be perfume, music, a showroom or an art exhibition. I believe the opportunities I have to express myself are limitless.
If not a designer, what other career path would you have taken?
I love to create. I really don't see myself as a fashion designer, so much as an artist working in fashion design. So I’m happy where I am.
What was the initial lure of fashion that prompted you to pursue a career in the field?
There was actually no lure! My mother was a fashion designer. I grew up surrounded by fashion from the start. It is something that is very familiar and comfortable to me. It was just very natural!
A natural progression towards pursuing fashion which led you to Antwerp, to work with Raf Simons. How had that experience shaped you and your perception of design?
I have to admit that during this period I found a new approach to fashion. It was with Raf that I experienced fashion on a deeper level. Beyond thinking merely in terms of style and colour. I discovered that clothing is a very abstract means of expression. What I mean is that my interest goes further than just making a nice piece of clothing. There are stories told behind the clothes.
You introduced a female to the runway donning your design. Is there a story to that or were you possibly alluding to the introduction of a women's collection?
Haha. I couldn't deny the impulse to do so. My wish is to introduce a women's line in the near future. I’ve actually been busy working on women's wear for a while now. So I guess I just couldn't wait to show it to the audience.
And finally, what is the one thing that you would like for people to take away from their encounter with your clothing?
The aesthetic value is obviously the driving point in terms of the initial response I seek. But I'd also like for people to take notice of the quality and complexity in the patterns. And what is of utmost importance to me is that the person who wears my clothing, ultimately feel 100% comfortable in it. I want people to experience the clothing knowing great attention has been given to the quality of the materials and to understand the beauty within the clothes.
This interview can be found in its original format in the Scoute archive section.
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