By Meredith Corning
Irina Dzhus is a true artist with more to say than, “Here’s a pretty little dress for you.” The Ukranian-based fashion designer began her label, DZHUS, in 2010 after working as a fashion stylist for several years prior. Her background in styling certainly has given her an eye for detail as well as the foresight and knowledge that every design should tell a story. It is almost as though the piece began as a character or an idea morphing its way through a shroud of fabrics into an actual garment. Architectural in nature, the DZHUS theory is precise. Every line and every angle has a purpose. What that purpose is, is for the wearer to decide…or one can ask Irina Dzhus herself.
You have been on the fashion scene for several years as a designer and stylist. What do you find most captivating about this industry?
Actually, I’m not a big fan of the fashion world. I mean I was never enchanted with the catwalk glamour and never did I worship the fashion icons. What I have always aspired to was to do with design as such. I’m totally into creating innovative structures and unusual aesthetics of the form. But sure, the idea comes first. DZHUS pieces are meant to become the perfect match for a nonconformist intellectual’s inner world, thus, the design concepts are a visual key to it. When it comes to the style work, the system is just the opposite. It only makes sense if it is adequate in the framework of the assignment – that’s what makes it different from independent art projects. I find it fun to play by the rules of a customer, moreover, this is quite a prestigious way for me to get funding for my brand as well as make friends with influential personalities of the industry.
In an interview with Mod magazine you said,”Each piece I create carries a distinctive ideological message.” Can you give an example of a DZHUS garment that reflects such a message?
For example, the concept of DZHUS’ AW 12/13 collection, Technogenesis, derives from regeneration of the anthropogenic civilization’s destructive priorities into a virtually new transmarginal existence – an image of the “post-apocalyptic archangel”, as the quintessence of restructuring and modification of a consumeristic society’s value categories in order to create the post-utilitarian aesthetics.
Another example is the AW 13/14 collection, Overground, inspired by the whole system of Soviet monumental cult installations left from the bygone totalitarian epoch – austere factories and solemn memorials, ceremonial palaces and erecting obelisks, soaring nostalgically above abandoned expanses – like ghostly shadows of the country that no longer exists.
What have you found to be the best marketing tool for your brand?
The statement designs gain the interest of admirers and media, whereas the simpler garments are better sold. Therefore, the best marketing strategy for DZHUS is to create both so-called editorial pieces – to highlight the concept of a collection – and wearable versions – to make the spirit of the collection accessible for the customers’ everyday life.
DZHUS can be purchased in several boutiques in various countries. What do you look for in a stockist for your line and what kind of ups and downs has the retail process had?
DZHUS is only stocked at concept stores. Talking about those in Ukraine, most of them seem to be visited by stylists and fashion students more often than by real customers, so the situation about local sales is not very optimistic. Besides that, I’m happy with my current retailers, I share their approach to fashion and like the way DZHUS garments are showcased.
Looking back at everything you have learned so far, what piece of advice would you give an emerging designer?
A career in fashion design is far not an easy one to do. Along with an extraordinary talent, you will need special attainments as well as communication skills and funding to release at least a competitive designer product. Be honest to yourself if you are 100% sure your ideas are that unique and you’re ready to spend literally all your time struggling for your work’s success, then you should definitely try. If not – fashion design is much more fun when it’s just a hobby, seriously.