Designer of Ertnii Mongol Khiits fashion salon O.Urantsetseg, who won the Designers’ Grand Prix at this year’s Goyol Fashion Festival, spoke about her career and collection featured at the biggest annual fashion show in Mongolia.
Have you participated in Goyol Festival before? Goyol Fashion Festival is special every year, and different. How was this year’s festival? Didn’t you win an international award as well?
Goyol Festival was extraordinary. I took part in this prestigious fashion show for the second time this year with my second series of Nuudelchin Goyol (Nomadic Fashion), which brought me the Grand Prix. I’m feeling over the moon. I received the Best Newcomer Designer award last year, when I showcased my designs for the first time at Goyol Festival. Before that, I won the Grand Prix at the third international fashion festival for traditional clothing. In 2015, I competed in a South Korean competition for young designers from 30 countries and came in third place.
Many designers featured their designs at the Goyol 2016. How competitive was it?
Every designer who participated in the festival was strong. Mongolian fashion designers are really brilliant. They made each and every design unique while combining Mongolian traditional characteristics.
You showcased your Nomadic Fashion series at the Goyol 2016. Why did you name your series Nomadic Fashion?
Our ancestors were nomads. So I decided to make designs based on ancient Mongolian clothing. My second reason was to continue to preserve deel related culture to some extent. I want to develop ancient Mongolian clothing culture in conformity with the modern Mongolian fashion scene and make it even more glorious and glamorous without losing the culture. I design clothes with these intentions.
How many designs did you make for Nomadic Fashion 2 collection?
This collection consists of more than 40 deels. Around 20 to 30 of them were shown to the audience at the Goyol Gala Concert.
When did you first become interested in fashion design?
I was very interested in fashion and wanted to become a fashion designer ever since I was a child. Even when I was little, I always wanted to wear nice clothes. I never wanted to make clothes for everybody. I made clothes for myself, but had a completely different occupation. I decided to pursue a career in fashion in 2012. My very first clients were Member of Parliament S.Javkhlan, his wife and long-song singer G.Erdenechimeg. I believe that this too was a fateful event. S.Javkhan wasn’t trying to wear the deel that I made so that he can advertise it. When I was a nobody, S.Javkhlan and his spouse came to me asking me to make them a Mongolian deel. It encouraged me a lot.
Ertnii Mongol Khiits fashion salon is rumored to have many illustrious clients. Do you have many famous clients?
Our fashion salon is very popular. I can’t even take a day off during the weekends. Quite a few of my clients are celebrities. I don’t like to reveal their names because there are people who are great even if they haven’t become famous yet. People become more modest as they become greater. All my clients are great people. They all have their own unique traits.
Clients of which age group do you usually get?
My clients are from all age groups, starting from eight to 80-year-olds. There’s no age limit. My deels are liked by people of all ages. Most of my clients become happy when they wear my deel – some even say they look five years younger. Girls, boys and young people told me that they originally thought deel made people look older and said that wearing my deel made them look more unique and fancier. The older you are, the deel can make you look much younger.
How many employees do you have at the Ertnii Mongol Khiits fashion salon?
We usually have around six to eight workers. We think and operate like a single person – we’re an excellent team. That’s why we’re so happy to work all the time. All of them operate like they’re a part of me. One person can’t accomplish anything. No matter how fantastic my designs are, it wouldn’t mean anything if it isn’t made well. Making a Mongolian deel isn’t easy.
How many deels do you own?
There’s a saying that goes, “the cobbler’s children are always the worst-shod” (meaning: some professionals don’t apply their skills for themselves). When I walk around wearing a deel I made, people ask me to sell it to them. Although I don’t feel like selling the deel I’m wearing, I feel very happy that they want to buy my deel even when it has been worn, and I understand how much effort was put into making them. I refuse at first, but end up selling it anyway. There are many occasions when people insist on buying the deel I’m wearing even if I offer them to make the exact same one. I get so happy thinking that people are able to buy my old deel without thinking that they are old and worn by other people. It means that they like it so much that they don’t care about these things. Some people uplift my mood by saying that I give off a positive energy. Some encourage me and say that the deel that I wore is better than a new one.
In recent years, local designers have been focusing more on innovative traditional Mongolian deel designs. In your opinion, how will the traditional deel design change in the future?
Mongolian national clothing must enter the global market. I had the will to make everyone wear our national clothing when I first started making deel. You can’t make deel for the sole purpose of wearing it for a while – it isn’t a temporary item. Deels need to be versatile, high-quality, sturdy, durable and have good color coordinated. My biggest ambition is to create a global brand of Mongolian clothing. The only way to do this is to make high-quality outfits. It would be so amazing if every Mongolian wears their national clothing – the deel. Clothing is a form of cultural heritage. It’s clear that we wouldn’t wear the same style of deel all the time. In the early days, Mongolians’ lifestyle consisted of herding and hunting. The condition and living environment was different. The clothes of nomads exceed normal standards as they needs to be easy to move in, non-restrictive, comfortable, and durable during warm and cold seasons. Since the foundation has been provided well, all we need to do is develop it a little more.
You talked about high-quality deel just now. Material is one of the most important part of making clothes. Where do you get your supply for deels?
Our salon doesn’t have just one textile supplier. I like to find new Mongolian textile producers and test their goods on my own deels first. I also look into Indian, Chinese, Korean, Austrian, and Italian suppliers. After considerable research, I choose the best material for each deel.
Most Mongolians say that textiles from China are no good, but some are actually much better than those made in Italy. While testing out different cloth and textiles, I was surprised to find that some Italian materials are worse than those made in China, quality-wise. So there isn’t a particular place or country that excels in fabric production.