Julie Pelipas for Ochi Outerwear.

Best known for its top-selling yellow trenchcoat and with its latest collection to be stocked by Net-a-porter, Ochi outerwear is setting its “eyes” on the international fashion market. The brand name translates to “eyes” in English from Ukrainian and has captured the gaze of fashion model Cate Underwood as well as Vogue Ukraine’s fashion director Julie Pelipas, both seen sporting the outerwear.

Here, Ochi’s Iana Kuznietsova, founder and designer of the brand, shares her insights into the target customer, the company’s market position and its distribution approach.

Ochi designer Iana Kuznietsova  Courtesy Image

WWD: In three words, how would you describe the Ochi brand? Who is the target customer?

Iana Kuznietsova: Ochi is about movement and travel. I create clothes for the so-called “nomadic” women who are sensual and strong. Sometimes they need their outerwear to provide outward defense, and our trenchcoats work as a shield and a touchpoint to the world at the same time.

WWD: Being based in Ukraine, how does your environment inform your design process? What are the main fashion hubs in Ukraine? 

I.K.: Although Ukraine’s main fashion hub is its capital, Kyiv, our brand is based on the South of Ukraine, in Odessa. Powerful sea and sun energy bring us unlimited inspiration. I really want the whole fashion industry to know more about Ukraine, and that’s why I chose a Ukrainian word as the brand’s name. Ochi means “eyes” in Ukrainian, and this is the main idea of the brand. Outerwear acts as eyes between the body and world. Moreover, by collaborating with Ukrainian artists, we bring awareness to another side of Ukraine’s creative community.

WWD: What inspired the spring 2019 collection?

I.K.: I’m inspired by women: strong, brave, talented, mysterious women, and the universe provides them. For my debut collection, I collaborated with two unique women: the first is Ukrainian artist Vlada Ralko, whose ideas and work inspires me endlessly. Vlada made three paintings: “Bloom,” “Personal Things” and “The Hand and the Rose,” which are used in the Ochi spring 2019 collection as the prints. I was lucky enough to work with Vogue Ukraine’s Julie Pelipas on the debut collection as well. She became its face, which called huge attention to our brand, and also offered her point of view on further brand development. I think Julie is a great stylist. Her entire body of work and her image is inspirational to me, so I can talk about her forever. This woman inspires thousands of people, and I’m no exception.

WWD: How do you manufacture and distribute your outerwear?

I.K.: I visit Première Vision and try to find unique, high-quality fabrics. We use natural ones, because it’s very important for me to give my client a feeling of comfort; that’s the main priority in my work. I’m happy to have the help of my team, whose love for their craft completes each item and makes it special. Together we managed to put Ochi on the international fashion radar. Our collections are shown twice a year during Paris Fashion Week, and next month the collection will be available online at Net-a-porter.

WWD: What trends are key for the next season?

I.K.: Next season, I’m developing the story which I started in the previous spring collection of a heroine who seeks warmth after a return from wandering. In the fall season, I want to reveal a mystical side of the woman by creating capuches and shawls, which will conceal her inward secrets. Ukrainian artist Anatoliy Belov will help us bring this idea to life.

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