Hybrid sportswear visions

In conversation with Florence based designer Domenico Orefice.

In conversation with the creative minds behind DO ™, one of the most exciting up and coming Italian emerging brands. A recent Polimoda graduate in 2020 the brand stands for a minimalistic and futuristic style, featuring clean lines, sleek silhouettes with utilitarian details and an industrial edge. Their pieces meticulously incorporate elements of functionality and tech design, exploring different media: the brand’s identity is the result of the 3 talents behind it: Domenico Orefice, founder and creative director, Duccio Schiumarini, 3D Artis and the music artist Niccolo Gori aka NIIO. Combining these three practices and many others in one homogeneous concept of a dark and futuristic capsule of fashion revolution.

How do you guys know each other? When and how did the project start?

DO: Let’s say that the project was conceived before we all met. Duccio and I went to the same high school, but we studied different subjects, whereas for NIIO, it’s a bit different.
NIIO: I met Domenico few years ago when I had to take some pics for my pages and I needed unique pieces of clothing that could fit my personality. I remember that I saw and asked the permission to Domenico to have this black and red technical jersey and the photo while I’m wearing it, became my official profile photo and I’m really proud of it. Then of course, the commodity of the future in this Era, I’m talking about collaborations and arts exchange, led me to return the favour and produce for DO ™ the soundtrack of Vilnius Fashion Show.
DO: I can definitely say that he did his best! Coming back to the project, I’ve always felt the need to communicate and express my personal vision of the world through clothing – not just as something to wear, but especially perceived as a protection in the surrounding environment and as a shell that protects us in the hardest moments. We don’t need more garments, we know that, we need to actually tell something through what we’re wearing.

I sense some Rick Owens edginess with a hint of Ann Demeulemeester’s dark romance reminiscence mixed with Heliot Emil form and function driven by an experimental approach, minimalistic aesthetic and a sportswear twist. Tell me about your influences and where are you aiming to position your brand.

DO: I grew up among art books, since my father is a painter and sculptor, football fields and extreme sports, which have always been my passion. Since I was a child, I have been used to looking at things with an artistic eye, moving away from the common judgment that could distort my thoughts and my overall view. My vision takes shape at the exact moment when I can focus on a singular element, whatever it may be: an object belonging to an extreme sport, an urban element such as a scaffold etc.. I like to mix these elements with familiar shapes inside my mind in order to mold a new whole. I am mostly carried away by the creative flow that is generated by my mind combined with my instincts, until I arrive at an idea that subsequently develops into a concrete concept.

Functionality is a keyword for your brand’s universe. How do you fuse technology and wearability in your designs?

DO: I believe that the most interesting and fascinating challenge of my project is to blend new technologies with artisanal techniques, which instead rely on manual and human dimensions. I think that they are two intrinsically complementary and necessary aspects of each other throughout the entire process. 3D printing and digital 3D are two fundamental aspects of our brand and are perfectly integrated with the rest. During the collection development, after creating the pattern and deciding on the shape of the garment, we move everything to CLO3D and preview how the garment fits, in order to avoid material waste and downtimes. If we like the result, we proceed with the actual sample.

I know also 3D design is such an important side of your brand overall. In which ways do you incorporate it in your work? 

DO: It is essential for us to keep in step with the times and take advantage of everything that the world of 3D can offer us. We aim to provide our clients with a complete shopping experience, a journey into the world of DO ™, in order to fully explore and get to know our community.
The ‘Hybridverse Bunker Experience’ is our shop created in collaboration with 3D artist Duccio Schiumarini, who is part of the team, and the Backdoor team, key external support for our website coding. Duccio is a professional in his subject and will surely help me better explain the whole world behind the 3D.

DS: I have witnessed firsthand the transformative power of 3D design technology. It has opened up new avenues for creativity and imagination. By blurring the boundary between the concrete and the intangible, 3D design has given us the ability to create immersive experiences that transcend traditional mediums. As a result, I am currently working on the new DO ™ 3D website that aims to take users on an unforgettable journey that fuses reality and the digital realm. With this project, I hope to push the boundaries of what is possible with 3D design and showcase the limitless potential of this technology.

You also have a music component. Could you talk about that? I am confident with the links between fashion and music; especially nowadays, I think art in general has overcome the boundaries between different media, giving a more fluid and open perspective. Just think about Virgil Abloh and how he combined those two together.

NIIO: Music and fashion go hand in hand, the role of translating into sound what you see is crucial nowadays. My role in DO ™ is to approach, through dark tones and melodic harmonies, individuals close to the world of clubbing and give them a visual audio experience. I strongly believe that DO ™ concept reflects and shapes this vision and has an impact in my sound and in what comes from this synergy.
DO: I completely agree with NIIO, and looking back to the event in Vilnius, his soundtrack, produced exclusively for our show, has created a very unique atmosphere.

Let’s talk about your last collection. What has been the creative process around that?

DO: For our latest collection, the concept explores the idea of “Transition”, interpreted as a sort of journey, a stepwise transition through different stages or levels of experience and knowledge. The collection therefore includes garments that refer to different stages of this journey, with elements inspired by nature, trekking and climbing, combined with an Italian sartorial elegance. The first looks include more rustic and functional garments, such as heavy winter jackets, hiking boots, and durable pants. As we proceed throughout the collection, the garments become more sophisticated, with tailored cuts blended with technical fabrics and functional details. Essentially, we created garments that narrate the transition – from one place to another, from the nature to the street – of a community, that is our own, in order to highlight the current social and cultural issues.

Your clothes have essential materials that recur frequently in your designs, such as metal hardware, leather. What is the importance of tactility for you?

DO: Tactility is crucial because it enhances clothing beyond just a visual statement. It adds a sensory experience that allows the wearer to fully engage with the garment, creating a more intimate connection and improving the overall experience of wearing it. Additionally, incorporating quality materials that feel good to the touch ensures that my designs not only look great, but also feel comfortable to wear.

Times are changing and we are slowly (or maybe really fastly) leaning towards the importance of a digital presence as well. What do you think would be your direction towards the combination of digital and material fashion?

NIIO: Ensuring a combination between digital, visual and hearing experience is a key aspect. That’s one of the reasons why labels, like Afterlife, Circoloco and many more became also sort of brands and vice versa. An interactive digital world also allow people to remotely connect with your vision or project, guaranteeing an experience almost equal to reality.

Given the explosion of the Web 3.0, the metaverse with it’s game-changing technologies and the AI powered fashion models how do you imagine the future of fashion industry? And the future in general.

DS: As we move towards a world of web 3.0 and the metaverse, I think that the fashion industry is likely to see some major changes in the coming years. In the metaverse, we can expect to see a new level of creativity and innovation in the fashion industry. With the ability to create and manipulate digital clothing and accessories, designers can push the boundaries of what is possible in terms of design, material, and functionality. However, while the metaverse may bring about many exciting changes to the fashion industry, it also raises some important ethical questions around ownership, privacy, and representation. As the metaverse grows and becomes more integrated into our daily lives, I think that it will be crucial for the fashion industry to consider these issues and ensure that they are creating a safe and inclusive space for all users. As for AI-powered fashion models, while they may be a valuable tool in the fashion industry, I do not believe they will completely replace human creativity and talent. While AI may be able to create photorealistic models and simulate different clothing styles, it cannot replace the artistic vision and unique perspective that a human designer brings to the table. In general, the future is likely to be shaped by a combination of technological innovation and a focus on sustainability and ethical practices. As consumers become more aware of the impact of their purchasing choices, we can expect to see a greater emphasis on eco-friendly and socially responsible fashion. Additionally, as technology continues to advance, we may see new materials and manufacturing techniques that allow for even greater creativity and innovation in the fashion industry.

Dream collaborations?

DO: I have several collaborations in mind across different fields. I would love to collaborate with NM3 or Vincenzo de Cotiis for interior pieces, Marc and Antony Tudisco for 3D projects, and Hannah Levy or Miroslaw Balka for art installations. Sounds pretty exciting, doesn’t it?

Which celebrity would you like most to see wearing your pieces?

DO: Honestly, rather than celebrities, I would prefer to see our garments worn by individuals who strongly identifies with our brand’s values and feel a sense of belonging to our community. If I have to choose, I would actually mention Julia Fox, Peggy Gou, Arca1000000, Lewis Hamilton, Tyga and Wisdom Kaye.

Exciting upcoming projects on the pipeline?

DO: We still have so many things to show you, including drops, 3D artworks, and entire music tracks. June will be an important moment for us as we will be presenting our new collection in Florence. Stay tuned and please support us!

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