November 06, 2011

INTERVIEW with Datchi

A few months ago I was lucky enough to sit down with Leila (and her two cats) to talk about her clothing label Datchi. Datchi  is an independent clothing company which produces one off upcycled garments as well as vintage inspired clothing. She also shares her love for sewing by offering sewing and pattern making courses:)

Leila from Datchi                                          photo: Michael Dooney
Where are you from?
“I am originally from Calgary, Alburto, but I have spent the last 10 years in Montreal. So really I am from Montreal.”

What do you like about living in Berlin?
“I like the free spirit of the city and it seems like people can do what ever they want. It is not that conservative or aggressive. It's comfortable and it's fun.”

What is Datchi designs?
“It is an independent clothing company. I upcycle and have a vintage inspired clothing line. I sell it on line and I have been working with the kultpur shop in Kreuzberg.”

When did you start sewing and what is your background in fashion?
“As a kid I liked to sew. It was something that I did with my mum. I guess that it was something that I grew up with. I then went on to study fashion design. Once I got out of school I ended up working in a cubicle doing technical design, so it kind of took the joy out of fashion. I quit that job and found a job as a chef and ended up actually really liking that because it is also very creative.”

“I started sewing again when I was living in Montreal. As a chef I didn't have a lot of time to focus on fashion design, so I started to upcycle handbags. It was something I could do between work and free time. The response was really good. So I continued and I met some people who owned a DIY craft store and they were really interested in the upcycling, so I guess it kind of went from there. I started teaching a course in upcycling and then started getting more into making clothing. Moving to Berlin gave me the opportunity to focus on fashion design.”

What are your thoughts behind recycling and fashion
“The way that the world is at the moment, we are a throw away culture. I don't think we need to be producing waste and this is the idea behind upcycling. You don't have to throw it away you can change it and it also makes the clothing very unique.”

What is your view on sustainability, renewable resources e.g. bio cottons, bamboo vs. recycling
“Organic isn't always the key. For me it is more about buying locally and sustainably. As a cook I was really looking into sustainable growing. Organic laws are so strong and strict that a lot of things that are sustainably grown don't necessarily have that organic seal, but they are in fact organic. In Canada you can't call something organic unless the land that it is grown on, hasn't had any chemical treatment for at least 10 years. Sustainability and locality is more important”

What is particularly interesting about Upcycling?
“I like that you don't have a flat piece of material to work with. You have to think more about the dimensions, it's not necessarily concrete. You have to be very creative. You can't be stiff with it. You have to be open to changing your ideas and really working with the materials that you have. It's nice to be able to think outside of the box and do something different as a designer.”

Where do you find inspiration?
“I get inspired by whats around me. Architecture, human interaction, sites on my travels. I don't really like to sit in front of the computer and look at images. It's mainly through life experience and travelling.”

What is your advice for people who want to start sewing?
“I guess it's simply a matter of doing it, it doesn't have to be perfect. If you have an idea in your head you should try and work it out. Keep sewing. The more you sew the more confident you will become and the more you will understand the material that you are working with. There are also a lot of sewing courses that you can do which are not necessarily expensive".

Datchi Designs Website: 
Etsy Datchi Shop:  

Thanks Leila! for your time.
This was the second in a series of interviews which will become a regular instalment. Every Friday I will be posting some inspirational words from creatives within Europe.


  1. I like the interview and am looking forward to seeing more of these :)
    It was really nice meeting you guys yesterday! Enjoy your sunday night.