Sunday, January 25, 2009

Artistic Disposition: The Future Face of Canadian Fashion

I first met fashion designer, Zoran Dobric this past summer while helping him with a small marketing assignment for an upcoming trade show. My first impression of him was that he was soft spoken and down to earth. As I got to know him better I realized that he had the fire inside him to succeed in the fashion industry. A fire that unfortunately is very dim in the Canadian fashion industry, with successful Canadian retailers such as The Hudson’s Bay Company being bought out by American retailer, Lord& Taylor. “It is unfortunate that this is happening as many jobs in Canada are lost that way”, says Dobric. However, when it comes to his designs, he remains optimistic, “this will not influence my work.”

Born in the former Yugoslavia, Canadian-based fashion designer, Zoran Dobric has known that he wanted to become a fashion designer from a young boy where he was, “always drawing pretty princesses in fancy dresses”. Since then, Dobric has gone on to winning first prize for the Art of Fashion: Hollywood-Rethink Breast Cancer Competition and Smirnoff Fashion Awards-Virtual Nature 1999 Competition. Having worked in the fashion industry since 1999 and participating in Toronto’s LG Fashion Week (formerly L’OrĂ©al Fashion Week) for the past three years, Zoran continues to intrigue the fashion industry with his contemporary designs featuring abstract graphic prints that he creates himself, “I start with a hand drawing or painting, and then manipulate them in Photoshop or [Adobe] Illustrator in order to create the final print which then can be digitally printed on fabric.”

His Spring/Summer 2009 collection was inspired by Virginia Woolf’s semi-biographical story, Orlando and featured a colour palette of soft greys, pea greens and sky blues with a shot of black. The silhouettes were inspired by the many time periods that the immortal, Orlando travels through while transitioning from a man to a woman. A women’s leather bomber jacket with a nipped in waist paired with grey and white striped pants, resembled a 17th century doublet popular during the Baroque period. When describing why the gender themed novel inspired him, Dobric says, “The fact this person was immortal. I was able to borrow different historical references and inspirations, as well as the idea of androgyny, where I could combine masculine and feminine elements that were inspired by the fact that Orlando started out as a male and later turned into a female by the end of the story. It’s a really intriguing story.”

Dobric’s unique designs have become more wearable as the years have gone by, through focusing more on what the everyday man or woman would wear rather than his previous more avant-garde designs. A men’s turtleneck with a cable knit neck and sleeve attached to a chiffon bodice from his spring 2006 collection is now replaced by a short sleeved collared shirt, decorated with a gradated print the goes from pea green to grey. Even though Dobric’s style has evolved, the artistic inspiration in his clothing designs is always there. “I think fashion is a form of art or least an applied art. I would think art is what inspires me to design fashion” describes Zoran, when asked what influences his overall design aesthetic. Being European is another influence in his fashion designs, “it affects my aesthetic since I always lean towards European fashion style more than American style.” The hands-on designer has experienced success on both a national and international level. Most recently he participated in New York’s prestigious, “The Train” trade show in which he experienced great success through receiving sales orders from New York, Boston, San Francisco and Hong Kong. “The experience was great for learning about buyers and how they work. I got sales orders which will help move my business forward.”

With the recent economic recession in the United States and realities of global warming, consumers are becoming more aware of what they are purchasing and more conservative with their purchase decisions. In fact, according to a June 18, 2007 editorial by Footwear News, author Jennifer Carofano states that 27% of consumers are interested in purchasing green products. The fashion industry is no exception to these changing times and according to Dobric, “the buyers are clearly more ‘safe’ when buying then before.” The economic recession has also had an effect on fashion buyers purchase decisions, Dobric says, “It makes it hard for newer brands, as buyers go for old, tried brands. This means that new designers, including me have to emphasize uniqueness and quality of their products even more, in order to remain competitive. It also means that their offerings need to be a pretty safe sale, buyers don’t want too much risk at this time.”

Dobric’s experience in the fashion industry includes, previously teaching at Ryerson University and currently teaching at George Brown College on top of designing his own fashion line and this multitasking gives him what it needs to succeed even further in the fashion industry. His name is continuously growing with appearances in Lou Lou Magazine, Fashion Television and NOW Magazine. With his focus on success and innovative design, Dobric has what it takes to become the face of Canadian fashion. Citing creativity as to why he loves the fashion industry as “there is always something new”, he continues to have high hopes for the future of his fashion line. When asked what direction he sees his fashion collection taking in the next 10 years, Dobric answered, “I am hoping the sales will grow and I will be able to continue designing” As for fashion trends, in the future Dobric feels fashion will continue to take inspiration from the past. “It will probably be something repeated from what was done before. I don’t anticipate nothing too radical.”

The former art high school student will be participating in the second annual Green Gala in Toronto on November 8th where he will be required to create three outfits made out of sustainable fabric. The environment friendly event is on par with a critical world issue as well as a current trend that is on its way to becoming the norm in the fashion industry and this fits perfectly with Dobric, who is definitely here to stay. In regards to the other future of fashion, which includes fashion students, interns and aspiring fashion designers, Dobric has this advice, “the best advice is either do it properly or do not do it at all. You need to invest a lot of time, effort, research and money into something in order to make it even begin to work, so persistence and believing in yourself is the most important thing.”


Amanda