Ovdog - Mongolian fashion designer

[3 minutes read]

The Mongolian fashion designer who lets the flow of art run through his veins

After his graduation in fine arts in Ulaanbaatar, Ovdogmid Delgerdalai didn’t follow his peers into drawing the horses and landscapes traditionally associated with Mongolia. Rather, he started sketching and creating clothes from felt, a type of fabric made by boiling and compressing natural wool fibers together. Despite knowing little about fashion, he followed his feelings and was soon participating and earning awards in fashion shows, including the prestigious Goyol Fashion Show.

His wish to get deeper into fabrics led him to Milan, where he pursued a master’s degree in fashion design at the Academia di Bella Arti di Brera. His time in Italy brought him to the backstage of fashion where he learned the cogs and wheels of the design industry. After several years in Europe Ovdog came back to his hometown of Ulaanbaatar to continue his mission to revolutionize the Mongolian fashion industry.

Today Ovdog creates his own fabrics using felt, silk, wool, and leather along with burnt-wood particles and rocks. The cuttings are modern and underground. His discreet and humble attitude puts him under the radar but we made our way to his studio for an exclusive interview.

Ovdog fashion designer - Logo

When I make clothes I feel like a sculptor. The cloth simply leads my hands. I am also inspired by nature and the materials I make can include burnt-wood or rock particles.

Ovdogmid Delgerdalai

How has your style and inspiration matured over the years?

In the beginning, I was following fashion trends and I got impressed by the “Black” collection of my friend and designer Tsolo Munkh. My own style started to follow the same direction.

Going overseas and facing other types of designs sharpened my style. I appreciate the minimalism of Italian design which requires a specific taste and sense. Also Italian designers have an ability to translate their environment into functional design, contrary to French design which is more oriented towards looks.

I describe my style as “un-glamour,” sort of grunge inspired by homeless people. I am attracted to loose and non-fitting cuttings. When I make clothes I feel like a sculptor. The cloth simply leads my hands. I am also inspired by nature and the materials I make can include burnt-wood or rock particles.

Nowadays I have stopped looking at other designers and wishing to be like them. I follow my own path and inner flow. I follow trends when I need to but mostly don’t pay much attention to what others are doing.

How has the Mongolian fashion design environment developed?

Mongolians love clothes and enjoy dressing up. In a way we can influence fashion. What is missing is the knowledge of good fabrics. To keep on going we need a good materialistic base. From there we will start placing our clothes in small boutiques overseas and it will help with the base.

Making collections doesn’t necessarily mean we are developing. Fashion is the work of a team, not just a single designer. To make it internationally you need marketing specialists, photographers, models, supply chain, connections abroad, etc.

You need to be consistent, release collections twice a year and adopt design characteristics to differentiate yourself from others. That would give opportunities to become internationally recognized. Being famous worldwide requires a lot of work, starting from bringing your design to world fashion week and hiring a venue for the show. All of it costs money and you need to consider these expenses. It is not just about creating beautiful collections.

We still need more time but Mongolian fashion is developing according to its flow.

Ovdog - Mongolian fashion collection

What advice would you give to other designers?

Though it seems easy to make clothes, the essence is in your background. You must have your own attitude towards clothes, you can’t just make them by looking at fashion magazines and shows. At first, after watching a great fashion show you think “I will do this,” but once you start actually making it, it gets more difficult. You should constantly be thinking “how I can be different from the others?”

If you don’t have your own attitude, you can’t do this. In Italy everyone has his or her attitude towards clothes. After speaking to them and observing them, I learned that their attitudes come from their environment, from their homes. The deeper you dive into beauty or attractions, the more you see the differences. Designers must be very observant even to the smallest details which is difficult without having the right attitude.

Ovdog - Mongolian felt

What is your marketing approach?

When I was studying fashion, they immediately started teaching us about marketing involving photoshoots, PR and social media, and I wanted to be away from it. But marketing is inevitable.

As I am not a marketing person, my way is organic and passes through my skills. If someone likes my clothes and comes back again, that is my marketing: good quality, stitching and tailoring.

For me, the more I do and the more I learn, the better the clothes are for my clients. This kind of marketing is suitable for my mission.

Editor’s note

When asked what mistakes he made in his career, Ovdog’s answer was simply:

“no regrets, because regretting over time passed or mistakes is a regret itself”

This simple quote reflects an attitude where everything becomes possible, like nature, as it should be.

Market place: MPDU (Shangrila mall, 3rd floor), Ulaanbaatar Hotel (5th floor), Ovdog Boutique (General town – Zaisan)

Price: From $30 for t-shirts or pullovers, $100 to $500 for coats or complex garments

Social: Instagram, Facebook

Interview: A. Oyundelgerekh

Writing: Adrien de Ville

Translation: Oyu Sukhbaatar

Review: Gregory Greif

Modern Mongolian felt