Odysay, giving women timeless elegance and lasting style
Sona Sidalova, the designer behind Odysay, has created a brand of womenswear pieces with the goal of "making every important moment of a woman's life more sumptuous". In a time, when there is so much fast fashion and waste, Sona set out to create timeless garments that women could wear over and over again. Through her range of classical dresses that beautifully accent the feminine physique, Odysay has reached an audience that doesn't fit a particular segment- her customers range from 17 to 60 years old. Having worked in the finance industry most of her life, Sona never actually received a formal fashion design training and learned a lot of the tricks of the industry, the hard way. Here to speak about the ups and downs from her journey into the world of fashion design and her plans for the future, is an interview with Sona Sidalova.
Why did you name the brand Odysay?
When I was launching my brand, it started as a civil wedding dress brand. So i wanted the brand to encompass the notion of it being a journey. When a woman is getting ready for a nice event, whether it may be their own wedding or someone else’s, it's a magical journey of jewellery and makeup. I wanted the brand name to encompass that notion.
What do you picture as a typical Odysay wearer?
Quite interestingly I have clients who are 17 years old, but also 60 years old! It's really amazing that I have women of all ages wearing Odysay dresses. The person wearing my dress is a woman who favours timeless elegance and lasting style over fleeting trends. Today we live in a world where we buy so much, there is so much waste in fashion. I like to think that the Odysay woman is more connected to the craftsmanship behind the design and will keep her dress for a long time.
How did you get into fashion?
After finishing university, I worked in finance. I grew up in an entrepreneurial family, so it was always a dream of mine to have my own business. But I never imagined that it would be in fashion. Like many women, fashion was important to me, but I was never a 'fashionista'. When I was getting married, I had a civil wedding and I was looking for an evening dress that was lightly colored and I could wear over and over again. I got really frustrated, I did not want to put that much money into the dress as I was having a religious wedding the month after. So I was looking for a dress that was not too expensive, but still beautiful. I looked everywhere- in London, Paris, Geneva. I shared this experience with my girlfriends and I realised they were having the same problem. That is how the idea started.
Was it difficult setting up your own brand?
Yes it was and still is difficult. For me, there are two sides to fashion that make it so complex. There is the technical side and then there is the networking side. On the technical side, I did not have a background in fashion design and was lacking a lot of the practical knowledge- I did not even know what a dart was! This made communication with the factories difficult as we didn't speak the same language. I didn't know the technical terms and so I was doing pattern and sewing classes as I was starting Odysay. The second difficult part is that if you're not an insider in the industry, you don't have the network and insider knowledge. This makes it difficult to find people.
What is the best way to wear an Odysay dress?
It really depends! I've had clients who wear them with sneakers, flats or on the beach. The point of Odysay is that I aim to create pieces that can be worn over and over again and don't follow certain trends. Most Odysay dresses are in quite plain colors so you can easily style them in different ways. Personally, I like to wear an Odysay dress with nice heels and a clutch. As the pieces are quite simple, you can easily elevate them with a nice accessory.
Why did you choose to focus on dresses as opposed to other clothing pieces for your brand?
It goes back to me switching from finance to fashion. When you start in a new industry, you have to make choices. I love dresses as they’re easy to wear, so it was an easy choice. If you look through my designs, one of my first garments was a tuxedo, which was meant to be trousers and a blazer, but it proved so difficult to actually do the trousers. So I switched from making trousers to a skirt. However the jacket was already made, so I combined that with the skirt. But I definitely do have in mind to expand to more garments.
Where are most of your customers based?
Most of my customers are based in Geneva, Switzerland. Most of my network is there. Even though I live in Montreal with my husband, my business is here in Geneva as the production is in Europe. Thats very important to me to keep the 'Made in Europe' tag. The quality and expertise in Europe is incomparable and it therefore doesn't make sense to produce anywhere else.
What’s currently one of your favorite pieces from your collection?
The Jane dress. It is really comfortable to wear and the fit and fabric are beautiful.
What helps you find inspiration for your designs?
I don't come from a fashion school so I don't have a research-oriented process to my designs. I try to make pieces that are quite different so people can find pieces they like. First and foremost, the garment have to be wearable more than once. So in terms of inspiration, I would say everyday life. My travels, the people around me. I remember I once saw a woman on the street and really liked the detail on her blouse. So I ended up following her for half an hour just to try and get a picture of it!
What can we expect from the Odysay brand in the next five years?
For me, it is to grow Odysay without compromising on my core values. To offer my clients lasting style and quality at a great price. I would also like to continue to create collections using the best materials I can find and partner with small manufacturers in Europe that treat people with integrity and respect. I would also like to push the environmentally friendly concept. I do get a lot of waste from manufacturing my clothes, so I am thinking of making a kids or toddler line from the remains. You can't make an adult garment from the remains, but you can definitely recycle the fabric for kids. But that's further away in the future. For the next year, I want to focus on what I do and consolidate and grow my brand my way and with my values.