“Dushagreya” brand is mainly known for its elegant outerwear featuring unusual prints and tailor stitching. Most of the year in Russia is cold and gray, and we seek to make this “grayness” as desirable as the bright summer!
What does out name mean? We took an ancient Russian word “dushegreya”, festival women’s outwear in ancient Rus. This meaningful name explains the very essence of our creative work. “Dushagreya” brand is a story about the soul (“dusha”), making warm (“gret”), and festival.
We use designer’s fabrics and offer adequate prices for exclusive stuff – that’s what makes us special. Any piece from Dushagreya collection will emphasize our customer’s status as a creative and extraordinary person. Natalya Dushagreya who founded the brand is an award-winner of “Russian Fashion - 2015” competition, the author of 2 invention patents in the field of decoration of knitwear, the “Business Woman - 2015”, and a mother having many children.
Natalya Dushagreya is a designer and the founder and mastermind of a successful brand which for 5 years now has given women an opportunity to immerse into an enthralling world of wondrous fairy-tales!
Of course, she knows all secrets of the brand like no one else.
Here are some extracts from an interview with Natalya:
Would you tell us how you came up with the idea to found the brand?
I had nurtured the idea to found “Dushagreya” for 2 months – in my mind I pictured coats I would like to wear myself. And then, all of a sudden, I realized that this market niche is unoccupied – there were no analogous outerwear at prices we were ready to offer. Of course, Dolce & Gabbana and Valentino have elegant down jackets, but this outwear is on whole other level. I sought to create bright and elegant coats with a positive message and special appeal, which would be affordable to almost any woman. For two months I kept preparing, drawing, embodying pilot samples and making other arrangements day and night. And then on 15th November 2015 we leased our first office for “Dushagreya” and made ourselves known as a brand.
In 2020 “Dushagreya” brand will celebrate its 5th Anniversary. Would you call these 5 years a “fruitful period”?
Yes, I would. We worked “around-the-clock” to develop our “Dushagreya” brand, and the previous year, 2019, which concluded this truly fruitful five-year period was the only year when I was able to relax a bit and to have some rest.
When you founded “Dushagreya”, did you expect that it would be so successful?
When I worked to make “Dushagreya” a reality, I just wanted to do something creative for my own pleasure. I never expected that the enterprise I launched would one day become as popular as it is now. Yet that’s how it is in business – you either move forward or stay behind. To always keep your head above water, you need to move forward, to master new things and to implement them.
The stage of formation is not all pleasant. You’re also facing a lot of challenges hard to overcome. Have you faced many of such challenges during these years?
It seems that during the first year of existence of “Dushagreya” we just kept walking into the same water. For instance, we had problems with buttons, zippers, and many other issues to solve. You would hardly find fabrics manufactures in Russia, and the range of accessories here is too narrow. That’s why we procure everything from foreign manufacturers, and this process takes time. However we managed to overcome this challenge and to learn from it. We seek to create high-quality and worthy products, and we are glad to say that we are succeeding in this.
There are many famous people among your loyal customers, and they often share photos in your clothes, post comments full of fascination with your works, take part in fashion shows etc. Would you please tell us, who of them were the first to choose your brand?
In 2016 actresses Irina Lachina, Lisa Arzamasova and Anna Terekhova, a designer Alisa Tolkacheva, and a TV hostess Irina Sashina were the first to come to us. The girls liked our products greatly and often told people about us in their interviews. We are really grateful to them. After that our pool of stars was developing rather quickly, and our famous friends eagerly wear our clothes and participate in fashion shows and presentations.
Unique prints are a characteristic feature of “Dushagreya”. Some of them are designed by you, and some have been created by artists you choose personally. Please tell us about the process of creation and selection of prints.
Indeed, original prints and tailor stitching are the special features of our brand. I am a textile artist by my second higher education, so I am into modern art – I follow trends and I see plenty of works and select those which are capturing, which touch my heart. When I see something which would fit into our concept, we search for the author, contact him or her, and discuss our prospective cooperation and terms on which future images will be used. Then we start developing a textile print. In the process of our work I just see that, for instance, there should be a fox, and there we should place a cabin – and then all other elements of the print find their proper place. It’s just the power of your imagination.
There is another way – I draw a sketch on a piece of paper and then invite artists working on this order and set a task for them to draw all the details of the picture on the basis of my sketches. With most of the artists we cooperate continuously under outsourcing agreements. Unfortunately, since I’ve been too busy lately and for some other reasons I’ve hardly got time to draw myself. Sometimes I feel sad about this, but I do understand that right now I can’t afford to spend much time on drawing. Every time I go to an art shop, I buy paints and a set of watercolour pencils, and when I come home I take a piece of paper and start making my fantasies come true – and I do enjoy it. However, more often than not I don’t have enough time to complete my drawing – I put sketches into my cabinet where they wait until the next time. I’ve already got quite a few of such sketches. I do hope that soon I’ll have a chance to complete and put them to good use.
What technology and know-how do you have?
We use sublimation printing, printing on natural fabrics, and knitting machines – all these are widely used, but our approach to every order is creative and individual. As any manufacturer, we have our know-how, our own secrets which, in fact, are no secrets at all, yet one can hardly use them without extensive experience and deep insight. 3D contour stitching, which creates 3D effect for quilted clothing, is my latest know-how. It has not been patented since the technology has “gone viral”. So it’s too late to patent it, I’m afraid, yet I do feel proud that it was I who developed this idea.
Have you ever encountered plagiarism? And if yes, how do you solve this issue?
Today, thanks to high-tech, everything has become too “simple” and “close”, and it is impossible to not encounter plagiarism. Yet plagiarism comes in many forms, and there is no clear legal interpretation of this phenomenon. It may come as direct copying or remake. Some people may take a good idea which is not protected as intellectual property. We have encountered both complete copies and remakes of our clothing, and copies of some elements, such as design, too. Of course, we take some measures to protect ourselves, yet we always take into account the world we live in and the fleeting nature of fashion and try to anticipate plagiarism rather than fight it. As unscrupulous manufacturers produce counterfeit goods, we are creating new collections. Direct copying of our products by Chinese and Turkish manufacturers is a serious issue. If you came to a large marketplace, you would find plenty of shops selling copies of our clothing. Pirates use their own labels and offer such copies for prices we pay for materials only. Of course, quality of such copies is rather low – customers of “Dushagreya” would never buy any of them. In our office we still have a jacket manufactured in China, which is made of lining fabric with laminate underlay used to make it warmer. Such products are sold in great amounts since the price is low and their prints are appealing. High quality is one of the fundamental principles of “Dushagreya”. If we face a choice whether to make it simpler and cheaper or better but more expensive, we always choose the better but more expensive, and in any case we warrant high quality of our products.
Tell us about up-to-date fillers.
Let’s take some examples which everyone will understand. You don’t think that the wider a TV set case the better the picture, right? Top-notch TV sets are thin yet, at the same time, they feature wonderful sound and excellent picture quality. The same applies to heat insulation used in construction. We still have buildings with typical concrete one-meter walls. At the same time, we have state-of-the-art construction technology in which thin-layer heat insulation is used, and such insulation perfectly preserves warmth inside the building. The same trend is observed in fillers. The formula “the thicker the better” is outdated. Up-to-date fillers are rather thin, light, breathable and hypoallergenic, and they are designed to maintain comfortable temperature. Unlike goose down which tends to pill, they are easy to wash. We all know that a conventional down jacket becomes misshapen after a while – wash it several times and you will see feathers sticking from it and goose down pilled. We use up-to-date fillers. Quality of such fillers is really high, they don’t become misshapen, they don’t pill, they don’t stick from the lining or exterior, and they are rather good to keep you warm. We use Alpolux fillers specifically developed for the Russian market, which are resistant to temperatures as low as 40 degrees below zero. They are made of unique microfibers and natural merino wool and, thus, they will keep you warm for a long time. Such fillers are soft and, at the same time, elastic, so they provide for an ideal shape of your coat or jacket and do not make it too stiff. The fibers are connected in a unique way and, thus, they create a microclimate inside your coat or jacket to maintain temperature which is optimal for your body. A coat or jacket with such filler will keep you warm when it is freezing outside and make you feel comfortable indoors. For people suffering from radiculitis, products filled with Alpolux help to relieve pain.
Alpolux fillers are used for polar outerwear. The fillers are the number one choice for coats and jackets for kids. Such coats and jackets are easy to wash at 30 degrees, which is essential for kids’ clothes. They should be dried on hangers and kept away from heaters.
You have recently acquired an innovative machine. Would you tell us about it?
At the end of 2019 we purchased a Japanese machine for direct printing on natural fabrics. We waited so long for it to be invented! Printing on natural fabrics is a rather complicated process. Earlier analogs of this machine occupied large areas – entire workshops were needed to install them. Moreover, they polluted the environment intensely, and the manufacturing process had to be large-scale, so no small business could actually afford them. The newly invented machine is the same size as a conventional sublimation printer, so this machine is a real break-through for small business and provides great opportunities – you have an idea, and you can materialize it immediately. Unfortunately, our experience of outsourcing printing to other factories was far from being successful as we had plenty of discarded products. High quality is a norm for us, and such outsourced printing was not the best option. With our new equipment, our latest summer collection includes plenty of products with prints on natural fabrics. Furthermore, this machine gives us freedom of creation – we don’t need to print 100 meters of the same pattern anymore. Instead, we can print whatever pattern we like. I will repeat myself by saying that it’s a real break-through for small business
Photos from personal archive of Natalia Dushagreya