Co-founding French fashion imprint BWGH in 2010, artistic director and designer David Obadia introduces a new creative venture with his latest brand, Harmony. Focusing on simple garments, minimalism and monochromatic colors, Harmony embodies an effortless Parisian vibe as Obadia emphasizes day-to-day practicality and elegance through simplicity in his first Fall 2014 collection. Taking inspiration from Barnett Newman paintings, American sport apparel, business suiting, and most of all from the men and women in the street, the first fall collection from the label showcases a wardrobe designed for everyday life. It’s a range where tailoring pieces such as marine wool knitwear, casual shirts, oversized sweatshirts, boiled wool jackets and long simplified cut coats lay the basis for a timeless collection. With the retail store officially opening this week during women’s Fashion Week in Paris, the 2014 fall collection goods from Harmony are available now at the online store. We recently caught up with David Obadia as he talks about the personal aspects of the new label, the differences between Harmony and BWGH, and the challenge of starting a new brand.
“BWGH is and will stay a streetwear brand with all the energy that comes with, and Harmony is more about a personal journey.”
Why the need to start Harmony?
I don’t think we can call it a need, it was just a wish I have been maturing for months. I have the impression that a lot of streetwear brands have progressively lost their true identities aiming to become contemporary labels. But did they succeed? Instead of making the same mistakes trying to change what BWGH is, I have chosen to launch this new project on its own. BWGH is and will stay a streetwear brand with all the energy that comes with, and Harmony is more about a personal journey, it is what I want to wear, and see my fiancee wear, daily – clothes that are simple but beautiful, ultra minimal, elegant and monochromatic.
What were some of the best experiences/mistakes at BWGH that you wanted to prevent at Harmony?
The BWGH experience was amazing because I started from scratch and learned to be an artistic director, a manager, and the owner of a flourishing company. I learned that a good artistic director should have his own vision, stick to it and never compromise. I made a lot of mistakes at the beginning of BWGH thinking I needed to do all the work on my own to succeed and to keep control, but a strong brand is just as strong as the team behind it and its cohesion. From the artistic director to the production manager, the logistics, and the salesmen. Everyone matters to the success of a brand or a company. BWGH had an amazing success in a really short time and I want to thank every customer for their support but as an entrepreneur I think it is better to take your time to develop slowly but surely, on a creative and on a business point of view.
“These two brands are very distinct and very different too – in terms of design, products and event targets. Harmony and BWGH stand on
How would you describe the approach to style with Harmony?
It is something very personal, it is first and foremost what I wear and what I would see my fiancee wear daily. Kind of egotistic right? Style-wise it is simply beautiful, it’s about Parisian elegance: minimal and a little bit effortless.
Do you feel the associations with BWGH will be natural? How do you look to ensure that each brand stands on its own?
Of course there will be some associations made between BWGH and Harmony, because I am the founder and artistic director of both and people have gotten to know me, but these two brands are very distinct and very different too – in terms of design, products and event targets. Harmony and BWGH stand on their own. BWGH is directly coming from my streetwear roots and I have been admiring people like Shawn Stussy or Erik Brunetti since childhood, but now that I am 25 I have different interests and a broader vision of fashion. Harmony is born from this personal evolution.
Do you think the fashion industry now makes it easier or harder to launch a brand in relation to when BWGH started?
I think we were lucky when we started BWGH in 2010 because we were at the beginning (more or less) of this streetwear niche which kept getting bigger year after year. For instance when we made Man (it was called « Rendez-vous » back then) or Capsule they were small trade shows with few exposants and few buyers coming in. Now these trade shows are very huge events with hundreds of labels and they have been important actors of the development of streetwear and this street culture to make it mainstream I would say. But now for a young label it’s much harder to get attention today, even if you have a good product because competition is very big. I’m not a rookie anymore but I have to admit it is very difficult today to create something which you can be proud of creatively and business-wise.