Damir Doma may design full ready-to-wear collections, but he often starts with the shoes.
“For me, it’s very connected with the whole silhouette,” said the Croatia-born, Milan-based designer. “Sometimes I’ll use a sneaker to bring down the mood of the collection, to not be over-sophisticated. Other seasons, I’ll do the opposite.”
Doma, who launched his brand in 2007, began with a focus on menswear but eventually added women’s clothing and shoes for both categories: “In our first season, we started to customize shoes. By the second season, we had already developed our own.”
A career in fashion was always in Doma’s future. “My mother is a designer who used to have her own atelier, so my sister and I grew up with the idea of making clothes,” he said.
The 35-year-old studied fashion design at ESMOD in Munich and Berlin. After graduating in 2004, he assisted Antwerp-based designers such as Raf Simons and Dirk Schönberger before venturing out on his own.
This season, he’s elevating sneakers with bold, architectural shapes. The fall ’16 men’s collection ranges from $575 to $625. The styles, which are produced in Italy and Portugal, include laceless neoprene runners and embossed leather high-tops.
“Most of our sneakers are quite sculpted,” he said. “One of our best-sellers is the Falco. It has pleated leather tapes and was originally inspired by Japanese origami. From that shoe we’ve developed a lot of other models.”
Though Europe is his biggest market, Doma aims to grow his brand presence in the U.S. this year. The label is carried in stores such as Totokaelo and Oak in New York, as well as by e-commerce sites Farfetch and Ssense.
For another new development, he will merge his men’s and women’s runway shows beginning this month. But don’t expect an experimental genderless focus. “My collections will always be very wearable.”