Fashion in Vienna:

MIX OF CULTURES IN FULL BLOOM

Interview with designer duo Bradaric Ohmae
October 30, 2015

There is a late 80s track by Paula Abdul called “Opposites Attract” which is not necessarily known for its groundbreaking musical value, but rather for its witty lyrics. Indeed, in real life, there are many cases where opposites do attract, and Bradaric Ohmae is one of them. At the first impression, Tanja and Taro couldn’t be more different. She is spontaneous and talkative; he takes his time to think about the answers. Yet their visions complete each other iand exactly like in the song, “it just all works out”. 

The Croatian-Japanese designer duo is known for designing some of the most exciting accessory lines that have emerged in Vienna lately. Their influences range from Transylvanian vintage fabrics to retro furniture, which they flawlessly combine in surprising ways. Traditional aspects are often reinterpreted for their modern, luxurious collections of leather goods. We met up with the two to talk about their beginnings in the fashion world, their professional experience, and how they see the creative scene in Austria as opposed to other international cities.

Alexandra Vaduva: How did you meet and when did you decide to start the label together?

Tanja Bradaric: I first met Taro while we were both studying fashion design at Die Angwandte. He was a first year student and I was doing my diploma. I noticed he is very talented so I asked him if he wanted to work together and help me out on some projects. The results turned out to be really successful and we also became very good friends. Then we moved to Paris a year and a half to do internships at Chloé and Balenciaga. When we came back to Vienna we started thinking about founding our own label, because after having seen what it’s like to work for other companies in Paris, we wished to do things on our own.

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

AV: What is the concept behind the brand?

TB: It is natural for us to be interested in different cultures and influences. Most of our friends are from different parts of the world and that’s what defines our designs.

AV: Can you mention some of the things you learned at Chloé and Balenciaga that you could apply for your own label?

TB: We began seeing everything more professionally. When you experience the level of quality of high-end pieces every day you cannot help but start to be a perfectionist. Also, we learned a lot about expensive materials and finishings. But maybe the biggest influence was working for two very different companies. Chloé represents the spontaneous, easy going young woman, while the concept of Balenciaga was a very radical one with Nicolas Ghesquière as designer of the house (editor’s note: Ghesquière is known for his eclectic mix of styles, unconventional cuts, and ethnic influences ). We had to balance these two worlds. In the end, I realized I liked both of them just as much and that a mix of these two concepts would be best for our label.

Taro Ohmae: Also, at Balenciaga we were constantly surrounded by extremely crazy designs but in the end we realized it’s only human hands that created them. It made us focus more on crafting, manufacturing and other basic techniques. We understood just how important personal skills are for this profession.

AV: Where did you draw inspiration from for your AW15 womenswear collection?

TB: We started from a common practice in the countries to which we are mostly connected: braided horse hair. There is a tradition in Vienna of knotted horse tails, and there is also a large horse culture in Japan, where they play archery on horses (editor’s note: Yabusame). A similar type of sport is also present in Croatia during the summer games and it’s called Alka. We realized that horse culture is very important in all the countries to which we have deep connections. We also added additional influences, like Transylvanian vintage hand-made linen and hemp fabrics from the beginning of the century. We used the colour range of Eames’ chairs. He had a line of Thonet chairs in the 1960s, which were yellow, green, blue, and red. We cannot stick to just one source of inspiration. Our lives are very complex and therefore, our collections could be compared to layers in Photoshop.

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

AV: Do you have a certain customer in mind that you produce for?

TB: When we started our label we didn’t think of a specific person. We were almost not aware for who it is. But with time, we noticed that many people who buy our products are also very interested in arts and culture, and they appreciate fashion that is subtle and conveys a certain story. Still, we create for all age groups and do not have a stereotypical woman in mind.

AV: Where do you produce your collections?

TB: Everything is produced in Europe, but it depends on the product. Silk items are made in Slovenia, knitwear is produced in Vienna, bags in Serbia, and all our fabrics are Italian. So basically, production takes place all around Austria.

AV: The vegan trend has been very hyped during the past few years. Do you only use real leather or also faux leather? What is your opinion on this?

TB: We use real leather. I fully understand the trend but since neither of us is vegetarian, we prefer to stay honest to ourselves. We both eat meat and therefore it’s a waste to throw away the skins, so it fits our standards.

AV: Did you study leatherwork in school? What are the biggest challenges when it comes to producing leather goods?

TB: For us, it happened almost by coincidence. We made the first bag alone at Die Angewandte, using a machine which was not really specialized in making bags. We received a lot of positive feedback so we thought it would be a good idea to create more bags. At the beginning, we didn’t know much about making leather goods, but we had good ideas so we worked from there.

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

AV: How do you work together? Are there any rules in your design process regarding who fulfills certain tasks?

TB: Sometimes we do everything together, but sometimes we split tasks. I’m taking care of communication with producers, organizing materials etc. Taro is more on the development and technical side. Design-wise we do everything together.

AV: How can you describe the fashion scene in Vienna?

TB: The scene here is small, so it makes you feel comfortable but this is also very limiting. To make a brand internationally successful, you need networks of people. There are many talented stylists, editors, and make-up artists in Vienna but it usually stays within city limits. All in all, the scene is great but it’s not the most ideal one to support growth of a brand.

TO: Communication is necessary and it’s always better if you work close with other people. We sometimes receive requests from people in London but we don’t know what it’s like to work with them or how they do things and that’s a disadvantage.

AV: How do you perceive the Viennese fashion style as opposed to Japanese fashion sense, which is sometimes very extravagant?

TO: Some people in Japan are really crazy but there are also many people who dress in black. The difference is that the population of crazy people in Japan is bigger than in Vienna. There are many individuals in Vienna who have a taste for avant-garde clothing but the ones who search for safety are more numerous. I believe it all comes down to the size of the population.

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler

TB:  I agree, in Japan you notice extravagant people quicker. You are so struck by their appearance that you forget the others. But there are masses of people that are just normal.

AV: Do you have any future plans? Do you want to open a shop at some point?

TB: We are thinking about it, but for now we are focusing on our bags collection. So there will be no SS16 womenswear collection. We also want to grow internationally and improve brand recognizability and then reintroduce the clothes in a slightly different way, but this will happen step by step. We decided that it’s better for our business if we focused on only one thing and then expand afterwards.

Tanja and Taro are fascinated by the diverse cultural and social Viennese backdrop. In their search for inspiration, they usually visit art museums or spend their evenings in different cafes around the city. Find out more on their official website. For further information about stockists write an e-mail to: commercial@bradaric-ohmae.com

Photo Credits:

2015AW Photo: Nicole Maria Winkler; make-up: Désirée Schloffer; model: Flora/ Icone Model Managment. Big thanks to Mila Petrova, Kohei Nishi and Tamas Eperjessy for all your help. A special thank you for support: AFA, BKA, WKO and LUDWIG REITER

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