Design Duo Nadia Napreychikov & Cami James have had an impressive career to date, successfully applying their signature playful and provocative aesthetic to their designs, for nearly a decade. After a brief hiatus, Discount Universe is back and this collection is louder and prouder than ever. Quite frankly it’s a breath of fresh air in such a disposable and over-saturated market that fashion finds itself in, Discount Universe is the antithesis of this attitude. The craftWOMANship and ingenuity is evident to see, Never ones to play it safe, Nadia and Cami have mastered flipping the patriarchy on its head and transforming it into self- empowerment with statements such as ‘You will never own me’ and ‘Pussy Power’. Amen to that.
1 – What we find so inspiring about DISCOUNT is how you stay true to the signature DISCOUNT aesthetic, whilst still keeping the collections fresh and exciting. What keeps you creatively stimulated and inspired?
Ironically if it were up to us, the aesthetic would have deviated quite a bit by now. Having forged such a strong signature so early on, it’s become quite a challenge to diverge, so we find ourselves creatively frustrated a lot as the majority of our time (like 90% haha) goes into running the business rather than being creative. We had this grand idea that once we had a team we’d have all this time to be creative, but now we have almost 20 full timers across two different time zones, and all we do is make decisions and answer questions at all times of the day and night! Having said that, we also appreciate how hard it is to create a strong signature these days so feel incredibly blessed that so many people have resonated to an aesthetic that comes very naturally.
2 – Can you tell us about the DISCOUNT creative process? In particular how did this collection come to life?
Late nights and loud music!! But seriously, there is truly is no method to the madness. The collection was launched as a “collection” but it certainly wasn’t designed as one – half of it isn’t even online yet. This one in particular was even more random than usual as we hadn’t launched anything new for 16 months (luckily we have an army behind us who got us through) as all of our resources were directed towards the move overseas, visas, and building our second company which we’re about to launch in less than a month!
3 – If this collection was a song, what song would it be?
Ain’t It Fun – Dead Boys and Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – Nina Simone version
4 – Who is the poster girl/boy for this collection?
We were actually talking about this the other day, straight after we launched the collection. We were discussing if there was someone in particular that we each mused whilst designing, and both agreed there’s definitely not a single girl, or even a group of girls. It’s definitely more of a mood, or even musing the girl you see yourself being in your dream world – there’s something appealing in the idea of making clothes for the best version of who each girl sees themselves as.
5 -Your collections and in particular this collection has bold, female empowering statements such as ‘You will never own me’, ‘Pussy Power’. What strong females have influenced you as people and designers?
So much to say and so little time, as usual! The messages or words on our clothes are never put there with any other intention than what one of us might be feeling in the moment of creation. At times our clothes can be incredibly personal in that way, it’s our way of communicating with the world, whether through text, imagery or the cut of a dress. Of course we hope the meaning we instil in the pieces are empowering for women (or whoever might wear them!) in the way they are for us to create, there is an honesty in it that is entirely authentic. Hopefully people see that. In terms of who we are inspired by, the list goes on! Really, it’s all women from our Mothers, to young women standing up for themselves, to the ones out there changing shit for us everyday, and the women who did it decades back and created the world we live in today. There’s still a long way to go, but at least we’re getting closer.
6 – You recently relocated from Melbourne to New York, what was behind the big move stateside and how are you settling in?
Besides New York being the largest DU customer base, it’s just a city we’ve both always wanted to live in. DU or not, we probably would have figured it out regardless. This city is magic!
7 – What has been the greatest opposing force that you have encountered during your near decade-long journey?
Don’t even know where to start here – basically anything and everything you can think of! We always have a laugh to each other at how many people call us ‘lucky’ for having DU – we’ve literally failed and being rejected more than anyone we know, it’s been happening on some capacity on a near daily basis for almost a decade now. When you have a creative business and you really put your heart and soul into your work, these things hurt. Every day you have to convince yourself to stay in it, especially when it’s not just you anymore, and you’re responsible for other people’s livelihoods etc. The hardest part of it all is that the bigger it gets, the higher the stakes are, and you live with the realisation that you could lose it all any second, THEN, knowing all of that, you have to separate and force yourself to be as creative as you’d be if you had nothing to lose at all. Needless to say, we’re extremely grateful to have each other and our incredible team.
8 – As the adage goes, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery that mediocrity can pay to greatness; however, independent labels are rarely flattered by such behaviour. We’ve seen your designs and craft blatantly ripped off, how does it make you feel?
Honestly, we don’t even care anymore! There’s just nothing you can really do about it, apart from making sure you’re always creating and staying above it.