In Conversation with Odeeh's Otto Drögsler and Jörg Ehrlich
Last week, as a part of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Berlin, we attended the ODEEH fashion show that took place at the Berlin institution, Kraftwerk. The runway show was not only a showcase of the eccentric brand’s new collection but also a display of a cooperation we’re proud to be a part of: ODEEHxNEUBAU. For this cooperation, Odeeh spun a little magic on our classic neubau Sarah3D frames which were adorned by models on the runway in new tints and shades!
Odeeh is quintessentially Berlin; avant-garde, creative and one of a kind. Having worked for big names in the fashion industry for most of their lives, Otto Drögsler and Jörg Ehrlich founded their brand after noticing the negative impacts of the fashion industry at large. ODEEH was thus created with the intention of challenging the industrialist values of larger brands and instead focusing on craftsmanship. Their entire process from the inception of their collection to the final products, is an ode to long standing methods—one that preserves both traditional practices and advocates conscious consumption. We got a chance to sit down with them for a quick chat after their successful runway show to discuss the evolution of their brand, current inspirations and goals for the new year.
1) How would you describe your brand in one sentence?
We think it’s better to describe the ODEEH women—one who is curious, open minded, tolerant and interested in dressing herself playfully.
2) What inspired you to start ODEEH?
After working for big established names in the fashion industry for over two decades, we had a kind of dream; starting our own, manufacture-driven design house. It was and still is dominated by this thought: the bigger version of something is not always the better choice.
3) What practices do you adopt in your designing and manufacturing processes that you consider anti-industrialist, one of the founding principles of ODEEH?
The main issue we try to maintain in the process of designing is sketching all designs by hand. After that we develop the three-dimensional pattern process by starting with a so called “toile”; Which means for every model we start by developing it in a white plan fabric once Otto is done with the sketch. This is a technique all traditional pret a porter houses still work with.
4) Your collections are eclectic and unique—where do you get inspiration from?
Honestly from everywhere, sometimes in very coincidental situations—you wouldn't expect anything. These unexpected, probably in a more unique way inspiring, situations can be very abstract, but for us are often a starting point to create something special. As our friend and colleague Paul Smith once said: You can find inspiration in everything!
(Behind the scene at ODEEH's runway show)
5) What is your process of sourcing materials and fabrics for your collection and to what extent are you keeping sustainability in mind while doing so?
We work directly with the best weaving mills in Italy. Fabric fairs are not very essential in our sourcing process. Rather, it is the direct dialogue with a handful of our weaving partners near Lake Como, that we value. Almost 100 % of our fabrics are produced in Italy and 90 % of our cottons are organic, not to mention that our percentage of sustainable fabrics is growing every season. Production is concentrated on small manufacturing ateliers in Germany and Europe, keeping all our production processes as near as possible.
Fair partnerships are nothing we loudly talk about, they are obvious!
6) What are some of the big threats in the fashion industry today that you think brands like ODEEH are successfully tackling?
Finding the balance between growing economically while trying to think and behave small at the same time. It is important to us to not be dominated by a business energy—that does not leave us space for the principles we defined when we started 10 years ago.
7) How did you decide to collaborate with neubau and did you already design eyewear before?
This is our first eyewear cooperation and we are very excited about this project. We were drawn to neubau for two reasons. The first being the products’ sensibility we felt when we first saw the neubau product line. We immediately thought that neubau will understand what we like. Secondly, the chemistry; how we felt when we first talked, good communication and a good common sense is essential when you want to build something together. In this case, it is not only about the product itself but also the human factor that is intangible.
8) How do you think fashion and personal style play a role in helping us understand an individual?
We believe that the way you dress yourself can be an ideal tool to express yourself without words. It gives a first impression and can be very powerful. Clothing and fashion can protect you, enable and empower you in various situations. It is challenging, to ideally help our customers by what we do with ODEEH.
9) How do you hope to see the brand grow/ what are some of your goals in this next year?
Visibility is key and we don’t believe in conventional big advertising campaigns or strategies that are driven by a corporate sense. That is why cooperations like ODEEH X NEUBAU are substantive and essential for us. Such partnerships enlarge communities on both sides, a win-win possibility for both.