Idan Gilony Creative Director of UY Studio
Interviewed by Cinjay Lee
From Berlin, Germany
How did UY begin, and what inspired UY?
UY started in 2013 in Barcelona, right before we graduated from fashion studies at IED. We we re broke and couldn't afford to buy ourselves any clothes, so we started making them out of leftovers from school projects. Ever since we met, we have been inspired by the dark and abstract aesthetics. This inspiration cited an urge to create, and since we studied fashion design, it became our tool - black clothing was the most natural and effective way for us to express ourselves. We would usually start out with collage work which captured the essence of our thoughts and feelings towards a certain topic, shape, or idea, and became the reference point for our garments. It was never really our aim to open a fashion label and we still struggle to express ourselves through different mediums other than clothing. Since the beginning, we put a great emphasis on creativity; to express and explore it with each other in any possible way. But since our parents stopped supporting us, we understood that we had to make it work; we took the little money we had and spent it on fabrics in the market. We made around 40 to 50 pieces and did a small pop-up at a friend's hair salon, "Viktor Leske" and everything was sold out. At this point we realized it was more than just a hobby; we saw the demand, we loved what we were doing and other people did too.
Who makes up the UY team?
The founders are Fanny Lawaetz (Stockholm) and Myself - Idan Gilony (Tel Aviv). Then we have Chris / X-tin (Austria) who went to school with us in Barcelona but joined the team only after moving to Berlin from London, and Rachel (Chicago), who joined the team as an intern in 2016 and we fell in love with her, she is now working with us in the design team. This is our core team, and there are always people that come and go through collaborations, internships and other projects from all around the world.
What does UY mean?
As we never thought UY (oo.ee) was going to become a real label, we named after a slang word that we used a lot during those times. So it doesn't really stand for anything, it's more an expression/feeling and something personal.
What is your brand philosophy?
UY's philosophy is about going against the rules and blurring the boundaries. No age, no season, no gender. It is expressed in many ways; through our fashion pieces, events, homeware, and art. And we believe that this is especially relevant for Berlin; it is definitely something that symbolizes the essence of the youth and creative scene of the city. Berlin is all about self-expression and uniqueness. You are given the space to ex press yourself , a space that allows the development of many interesting characters. For these reasons we are fitting much better here than in other cities.
What it's like to run a label in Berlin?
I guess like anywhere e l s e , r u n n i n g a fashion label is not easy. Fashion isn't an easy market especially when you don't have the financial support - either external investors or family. So it always feels like a struggle, but at the same time hard work pays off; people do support our work, from all around the world - which is great. One thing about Berlin specifically is that it's not exactly a shopping city. People don't have so much money that they will spend on products - which can be an issue. But since our brand is based on the community that we have developed, we do maintain a steady flow. This is also what we spend a lot of time and energy on; we are constantly working with different artists and inspiring people because it feeds our curiosity and our drive to create, and at the same time, it generates a lot of traffic.
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