For the better part of the last decade, best friends Danial Aitouganov and Imruh Asha knew they wanted to start a brand together.
And given their womenswear label Zomer scored a spot at Dover Street Market Paris for its inaugural season, you can’t fault them for taking the time.
The duo named their brand Zomer, or summer in Dutch, because it’s their favorite season, “filled with adventures, love, warm and vibrant colors, embodying a sense of freedom and joy,” the pair agreed.
And that’s exactly what they plan to offer with their new label.
Asked who the Zomer woman is, Aitouganov described her as “someone who is into art and actually knows her reference, yet still has this playful touch to the way she dresses — but always with sophistication,” is likely in her 30s and “has a bit of budget to spend on nice, good-quality clothing that will last.”
She can expect a lineup of colorful silhouettes with a sculptural touch, a play on asymmetrical design details and the odd detachable element. Volumes are dictated by textiles and leathers, sourced through Nona Source and a partnership with Ecco leathers, respectively.
There will be prints by London-based designer Ibby Njoya as well as collages that nod to art influences that struck Aigouganov and Asha — a favorite game of theirs is walking into a gallery and imagining what piece they’d put in their homes.
Reoccurring through the conversation is the idea of playfulness and color, something the friends connected over from the get-go, something Aitouganov feels comes from their roots — Tartaristan in the Russian Federation for him, the Caribbeans for Asha.
The duo grew up in different parts of The Netherlands before meeting in Amsterdam, where designer Aitouganov was in his final year at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute.
Art director Asha, on the other hand, had finished studies in multimedia design and was working at the now-defunct Sprmrkt concept store, cutting his teeth at styling and art direction.
Though the friends toyed with the idea of launching a brand early on, both agreed they needed to build their experience in the industry first.
The designer went to work for Chloé in 2017 during Natacha Ramsay-Levi’s tenure before moving to London for Burberry under Riccardo Tisci and later designing menswear at Études, while the art director and stylist worked for brands like Pucci, Louis Vuitton, Dior, Botter and Jacquemus before becoming fashion director at Dazed.
Eventually, after Aitouganov took a six-month break, the moment felt ripe to pick up that conversation with Asha.
And Zomer’s ambition doesn’t stop at clothes, so they also developed bags, shoes and even jewelry.
Despite this full assortment, the duo wasn’t ready to show too much of Zomer’s spring collection to reveal its launch.
Instead, they came up with another way to set the stage: a campaign where they imagined mini-me versions of industry fixtures to “talk about the collection without showing it,” inspired by a “bold and playful” late 1980s Tommy Hilfiger campaign with a Wordle-style guessing game suggesting who the four great American designers of the moment were, including the then-“least known” Hilfiger.
Having the kid version of industry and cultural fixtures ranging from Suzy Menkes and Rei Kawakubo to Michèle Lamy and Jean-Michel Basquiat looking at a sole Zomer silhouette is the Zomer way of “putting a smile on people’s face and making them understand something fun is coming,” Asha said.
Zomer joins DSMP’s stable of 12 brands, all operating under different business arrangements, that can include brand development, production and distribution, with the Comme des Garçons-owned organization. Other brands are Airei, Honey F–king Dijon, Phileo, Random Identities, Rassvet, Sky High Farm Workwear and Westfall.
The brand’s spring 2024 collection will be presented during the DSMP showroom from Sept. 31 to Oct. 5, alongside the collections of ERL, Olly Shinder, Vaquera and Weinsanto.
Prices will start around 250 euros for tops and knitwear, under 600 euros for bottoms and up to 2,000 euros for coats.
Bags and accessories will be between 100 and 2,000 euros, while footwear will range between 250 and 800 euros. There will also be jewelry that will be under 800 euros.