Sergey Kovelenov: Back to Basics With Style
Published: July 9, 2014 (Issue # 1819)
T-shirts, socks, jackets — everyone has certain clothes they wear everyday. However, there are very few options available in the Russian market for those who want to purchase the basics with most locals buying foreign brands for their wardrobe. However, a group of young Russians have decided to take it upon themselves to prove that Russia is able to produce its own fashionable and basic clothing and, in 2008, they entered the market with Oh, my, a clothing label that produces basic items in just three colors — black, white and gray — and sells only online.
The St. Petersburg Times recently spoke with Sergey Kovelenov, CEO of Oh, my, about the benefits of being an online store, production difficulties in Russia and how the young entrepreneur started selling clothes.
Q: How did the idea to start your own clothing label come about?
A: The idea of Oh, my first started in 2008 when my friend and I were relaxing on the Gulf of Finland, talking about life and the future. I did not plan to sew and sell clothes — I just wanted to create something everyone would like. Clothing production turned out to be the easiest thing. Basic clothing items will always be necessary wardrobe items, so I targeted that. Our motto is “Basic clothing will save Russia.”
Q: Why just basic clothing? Is this a big sector in the local fashion market?
A: There is no big market for basic clothing items in Russia yet. I don’t see any major competitors among Russian companies, just foreign brands like Benetton, Gap or H&M. Of course, Oh, my is not a significant brand to them but we are the only clothing brand in Russia that produces everyday items for people of any gender, age or occupation. We think we have a chance to become the main Russian company in this market.
Q: Your production is based in five factories in Russia. Is this an advantage?
A: There are companies that sew things in Russia but it is not on a large scale. Production in Russia is three to four times more expensive than in China. For us, the idea of creating a national Russian label is more important than profit now. We hope people buy our clothes because they are proud to wear true Russian apparel and understand that Oh, my is made in Russia. We are not going to lower the cost of production by making our clothes in Asia.
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