DZHUS – conceptual womenswear brand by Irina Dzhus
Who is DZHUS?
DZHUS is a conceptual womenswear brand launched in 2010 by me, designer and stylist, Irina Dzhus, based in Kyiv, Ukraine. Avant-garde yet utilitarian, DZHUS is now internationally recognised for its innovative cut, multifunctional transformer garments and austere industrial aesthetics.
What is the DZHUS story?
I remember myself at the age of 5, dreaming of becoming a fashion designer. As a child, I loved fashion much more than I do now, when my brand has more to do with design as such than with the fashion world, and having worked as a stylist for 12 years and until present day, when quite a few things in fashion can surprise me. Back then, I was so inspired by the phenomenon of clothing and the fashion industry with all its shows and magazines, that I couldn’t stop watching and drawing. At 7 or 8, I scrap-booked and laid out my own magazine, with sketches, articles and even cosmetic ads, and at 12 I realised I wanted to go further than that and began to develop my first unique concepts, which became the primary steps on my way to DZHUS’ identity.
I went to art school, then studied fashion design at university and did an internship with a Ukrainian conceptual designer, Victoria Krasnova. Upon my graduation in 2010, I launched my own brand, DZHUS.
How are the products made?
Our ideology stands for consciousness and humanity. Ethically manufactured using cruelty-free materials, all DZHUS products are vegetarian-friendly. However, I must say, our ethical production has never been the main concept of DZHUS – it’s the basic standard we work to, which we consider the only possible choice. What makes DZHUS unique is the innovative cut and multiple transformations of our garments.
Every design I work on begins with the structure. By the time the pattern is finished, I would usually have pre-selected fabrics for the collection. I choose materials for this particular garment from that range, taking into account all properties the piece should feature. In my mind, finding this balance isn’t an extra task but an essential part of design as such.
Besides the necessary ethical origin, there are certain aesthetical and practical features I pay attention to when sourcing materials. DZHUS collections are always haunted with an industrial spirit, featuring exposed seams, raw edges, tech-looking finishes, wrinkled textures and solid metal trims.
I constantly generate new concepts and develop them. My work cycles are associated with fashion seasons, thus, twice a year, I have a pattern-making period, where I dedicate most of my time to making constructions for the next collection.
Once finished, those are forwarded to our production team, who then manufactures samples of the garments, to be presented during Fashion Weeks in Paris and Kyiv.
Later, private and wholesale orders are produced at the same studio in Kyiv, under my supervision.
What has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest issue for us is time. Although conceptual designers are associated with slow fashion, in reality, we are all expected to remain season-oriented, which means at least 2 collections per year. As long as each of DZHUS patterns is invented and developed by me personally, it takes me a long time to make drawings and mock-ups, and work out technological solutions for every garment, before forwarding it production. Please keep in mind we don’t have half a year to produce the collection, as we still have to allow at least a few months for preliminary communication with buyers and press before it is officially presented. Being constantly busy and in a rush eventually results in stress, demotivation and risk to start losing the considerate approach and high quality one day if nothing changes about the system.
What would you consider as a breakthrough point for you?
There was no particular moment of glory for us yet, however, I must admit that 2019 has been the best year for DZHUS so far. Besides all the orders we got, this year has been full of delighting achievements: our garment was on the cover of Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, DZHUS won a Cruelty Free Fashion prize at Best Fashion Awards (Ukrainian top fashion rating), eco-minded celebrities wore our pieces for United Nations’ campaign for Sustainable Development Goals and we created costumes for a new sci-fi movie, commissioned by the same team who had ordered our designs for The Hunger Games a few years ago.
Do you have any goals for the future?
I aim towards extending our international stockists list, to provide an opportunity for a more convenient, physical shopping for DZHUS’ followers all over the world, and to give our potential soulmates an opportunity to discover, try and feel our creations.
The other important motivation to popularise DZHUS for me is the cruelty-free ideology I communicate through our clothing. By presenting our vegetarian-friendly garments to the audience, we stress the necessity of being humane and future-oriented in the modern reality. By producing ethical and sustainable fashion products which are then worn by intelligent and open-minded personalities, I aspire to prove that it is possible to look edgy and avant-garde, yet remain at peace and in harmony with nature.
Photo: Pymin Davidov
Styling: Irina Dzhus / DZHUS Style Studio
Makeup & hair: Marina Averyanova / Y.Vision Creative Group
Models: Adama Diedhiou, Valentina Plyushch / Direct Model Management
Styling assistant: Andrii Popov
Vegetarian-friendly shoes provided by INTERTOP