|Styles and trends come and go as people and society evolve and change. Fashion not only changes but comes back years later with slightly new, modern and unique touches. Most places around the world take fashion very seriously as it has a huge influence on society, lets people express their personality, and plays an important role in establishing identity, beliefs and thoughts.
D.Otgonjargal, the first Mongolian fashion designer to receive the Cultural Merit Worker title, delves into the fashion industry of Mongolia and her experience as a designer in the interview below.
Everyone has a different fashion sense and preference. What’s your distinguishing feature from other designers?
That’s right. Anyone who is starting to do something needs to determine their approach and direction. In particular, designers must have their own style and distinct mark. For example, it could be making clothes with silk only. In my case, I tend to decorate my designs with all kinds of patterns. People often criticize fashion designers of having outrageous designs, but if they don’t have that unique factor and continue to follow their initial approach, they lose their individuality. I plan to continue doing what I have been doing (using patterns) until everyone can tell that a certain clothing is my creation at a glance.
You specialize in women’s clothing. Is it challenging for you to make men’s outfits?
Yes, I do find designing and making men’s clothes quite challenging. Moreover, men tend to stick to certain things and their preferences are stable. They can purchase a suit and wear it for countless occasions. They don’t need to constantly purchase new outfits, while women’s preferences are dynamic. I mainly make clothes for women because it’s more beneficial for me. Above all, I enjoy designing clothes for women more.
It’s important to not only create good designs but also bring outfits to life on the runway. How do you select your models?
Models play a significant role. You have to carefully choose models, and I’m particularly picky on that process. I set high standards and requirements for my models. Each design requires immense amount of effort from the decoration team, tailoring team, and more. Models have to wear clothing in a way that is appealing to the target audience. This is one of the most important roles in the fashion industry. Therefore, it’s better to hire highly acclaimed and popular models that have good reputations. I usually select models with good body proportions, with a height above 175 cm, and those with the ability to make clothing look more attractive. Models with good fashion and music taste, stage manners, attractive walk, and cheerful outlook are better at bringing clothing to life. I look at these things when selecting models for my fashion shows.
Don’t you have to find models that suit specific designs?
Yes, of course. I create designs for the ideal body, so models have to have that type of body. The ideal body is referred to as a standard in the industry. It’s pretty difficult to find models with the ideal body structure in Mongolia.
Do fashion designers go shopping for clothing? You must have made heaps of outfits for yourself, right?
I’ve made countless outfits for myself. I haven’t bought a single outfit for myself in the past five years. Going shopping seems like a waste of time and money to me, not to mention that I can almost never find something that I really like. Rather than going through all that, I prefer making outfits that fit my body which I want to wear. Doing this is much easier for me. I think it’s meaningless for fashion designers to go shopping for clothing.
How do you get inspirations for your designs? Is there a specific time or place where you can concentrate more and get better ideas?
Every artist has another special person inside them who inspires and helps them out with new ideas. We need to train and sharpen that person to be able to come up with brilliant ideas. As long as you love what you do, are hungry for better creations and designs, and study your respective field in depth, you will be able to enhance your skills. If you work nonstop, new ideas will continue to pop up. It’s the same as how the human intelligence and creativity improves as you continue to do something. There’s no limit to the human mind or imagination. The more pressure I’m under, the more ideas I get.
Artists seem to be slightly more sensitive than ordinary people. Does this have anything to do with the fact that artists constantly rack their brains for new ideas?
I think that’s spot on. I, for instance, think about designs for three to four hours even though I’m already in bed ready to sleep. This means that I’m thinking about designs every single moment of my life. Creations are made with mental training and meditation. Maybe this is the reason most artists become quieter and more introverted.
I used to observe students while teaching at Urlakh Erdem Fashion Design Institute. I noticed that active students who couldn’t sit still for a long time and had to constantly move here and there weren’t able to succeed as designers. This is related to their innate personality and nature. On the other hand, those who were quiet, able to concentrate on their work, and modest were able to come up with good ideas and lead a successful career.
Have you ever wanted to change your profession?
I was interested in drawing since I was a kid. I enjoy my current job because for a long time, I dreamed of becoming a fashion designer. I have never felt fed up or wanted to change occupations as I am energized and gain satisfaction through my job. I probably will never become anything other than a fashion designer. I will continue to make clothing until I die. My career has just begun. I have a long way to go and plenty of things to achieve. I love designing because it helps me mature and educates me. Making clothing that enhances people’s attractiveness is the same as cooking a good meal for somebody else.
How do you see the development of the fashion industry in Mongolia?
I would say that the Mongolian fashion industry has been developing quite rapidly in recent years. Not only fashion designers but also models are gaining recognition at local and international events. It’s clear that more and more leaders of the fashion world are accepting and recognizing the Mongolian fashion industry.
In the past, foreigners saw Mongolia as merely a country with nomadic lifestyle. Nowadays, they are respecting and complimenting Mongolia’s traditional clothing, culture and fashion trends. I also noticed that Inner Mongolians and the Kalmyks are starting to imitate Mongolians’ clothing culture. Another reason I can confidently say that the Mongolian fashion industry is developing is the emergence of new, young and skilled designers. They are diversifying and enhancing the production of the national clothing. I believe that this is the foundation of Mongolia’s fashion industry development. Although our nation is facing some social and economic difficulties at the moment, I’m confident that we will become a wonderful country in no time.
Many local fashion and cultural enthusiasts are very critical about innovative designs of the Mongolian deel. They criticize that fashion designers are forsaking the traditional deel design. What’s your opinion on this?
Fashion designers create new designs depending on the global fashion trend. This way, we can walk alongside the world’s fashion industry. Moreover, incorporation of the Mongolian traditional deel pattern and design into our clothes is the main distinguishing factor of Mongolian fashion designers. Nobody would be interested in buying ordinary, simple deel. I used to receive hundreds of complaints and criticisms. I don’t really care about that kind of thing. Designers create based on their own views and preferences. There’s bound to be people who dislike your designs, while many others like them. Sometimes it’s useful to read bad reviews and criticisms because you can learn a lot from them.
What do you think will become the fashion trend of 2017?
It’s challenging to identify trends beforehand. It just happens without a warning or sign. It’s become even harder to determine fashion trends lately because everyone is wearing clothes that fit their style and personality. A century ago, only one particular fashion and style used to be worn by everyone. Nowadays, we can pinpoint trending colors and materials, but not trending designs.
Next year, we can expect the fashion industry to focus on bright and vibrant colors, including various shades of blue. I have chosen more natural colors in this sense to link fashion with Mother Nature.