WE ARE FAM­ILY

ARIEL AND SHI­MON OVA­DIA LIKE THINGS THAT COME IN TWOS — NOT ONLY ARE THEY TWINS, BUT THEIR LA­BEL, OVA­DIA & SONS, HAS SEEN ITS BUSI­NESS DOU­BLE FOR THE PAST TWO SEA­SONS.

WWD Digital Daily - - Front Page - PHO­TO­GRAPH BY JOSHUA SCOTT

BROTHERS ARIEL AND SHI­MON OVA­DIA’S PRE­SEN­TA­TION TUES­DAY FOR THEIR OVA­DIA & SONS LA­BEL IS BOUND TO BE ONE OF THE MUST-SEES OF NEW YORK FASH­ION WEEK: MEN’S. HERE, THE TWINS WORK ON ONE OF THEIR GRATE­FUL DEAD-IN­SPIRED LOOKS. FOR MORE ON THE OVADIAS, DE­SIGN­ERS’ IN­SPI­RA­TIONS,

WHAT TO SEE AND DO IN NEW YORK AND MORE,

IT WAS A CHANCE MEET­ING with Ralph Lau­ren at the Dou­ble RL store in East Hamp­ton, N.Y., that for­ever changed the lives of Ariel and Shi­mon Ova­dia.

The twins were brows­ing through the store one day when they spied the leg­endary de­signer. Although too shy to ap­proach him, their stares caught Lau­ren’s at­ten­tion. He asked them if they were “in the busi­ness,” and they said, “No, but we want to be.”

Lau­ren then spent the next hour telling the brothers his life story and how he had cre­ated his fash­ion em­pire.

Starstruck, the Ovadias de­cided a month later to start down the same path and launch their own brand.

In the seven years since, the brothers, now 35, have proven that the jour­ney they started that day was the right one. To­day, the Ova­dia & Sons la­bel is car­ried in Bar­neys New York, Neiman Mar­cus, Saks Fifth Av­enue and other up­scale de­part­ment and spe­cialty stores in the U.S. They have col­lab­o­rated with ev­ery­one from Levi’s, the Gap and J. Press to street artists and the es­tates of leg­endary fig­ures such as Bruce Lee.

Next up is an ex­pan­sion to eight coun­tries along with an e-com­merce re­launch and the en­try into new cat­e­gories such as swimwear and bags.

The busi­ness has dou­bled for the past two sea­sons, go­ing from 34 ac­counts to more than 100. “Things are go­ing well, but we’re never sat­is­fied,” Shi­mon said.

Ariel at­tributes the suc­cess of Ova­dia & Sons to their un­wa­ver­ing de­ter­mi­na­tion to suc­ceed. “We have a fire burn­ing and a mind state that we can’t fail,” he said.

Of course it helps that they had some first­hand ex­po­sure to the ap­parel in­dus­try grow­ing up. When their fam­ily re­lo­cated to the U.S. from Is­rael, they were too poor to af­ford their own home im­me­di­ately, so they moved in with their grand­mother for three years, they said.

Their fa­ther, Moshe, who was a pro­fes­sional soc­cer player in his home­land, found his way into the gar­ment in­dus­try. He started a busi­ness called Magic Kids that man­u­fac­tured pri­vate-la­bel goods for mass-mar­ket re­tail­ers in­clud­ing Wal­mart and J.C. Pen­ney.

“Our dad asked if we wanted to be doc­tors or lawyers. We said ‘no,’ so he said, ‘OK, you’re go­ing to work for me,’” Ariel said.

The boys toiled in the com­pany’s ware­house “do­ing phys­i­cal la­bor,” Ariel said. “Noth­ing was given to us. When we started the day, we never knew when we were go­ing home. Our dad groomed us to work hard and never take any­thing for granted.” It was a les­son well-learned.

“We’ve had that drive from the be­gin­ning,” Ariel said. “And it’s stronger than ever to­day. We know a lot of de­sign­ers don’t think this way, but we know you can’t just make cool stuff, you also have to turn it into a com­mer­cial suc­cess.”

When they started Ova­dia & Sons — its very name a nod to their fa­ther — they ad­mit­ted they “had no idea what we were do­ing,” Ariel said. They had no de­sign ex­pe­ri­ence and no of­fice. A friend al­lowed them to use a space in Green­wich Vil­lage ►

to set up shop, but the lo­ca­tion didn’t have air con­di­tion­ing or a bath­room. When buy­ers vis­ited, they said both were bro­ken.

“We had no busi­ness plan, no fi­nanc­ing,” Shi­mon said. “We just jumped in be­cause we had a pas­sion for cre­at­ing great prod­uct.”

Their first col­lec­tions were heavy on tai­lored cloth­ing and fur­nish­ings. “We fell in love with Sav­ile Row tai­lor­ing and hunt­ing clothes,” Shi­mon said.

It’s no sur­prise then that J. Press, the Ivy League-in­spired brand, tapped the brothers to de­sign a more-youth­ful take on its col­lec­tion un­der the York Street moniker. That part­ner­ship lasted for four sea­sons.

As their busi­ness grew, the Ovadias found that what they were de­sign­ing was res­onat­ing with cus­tomers and this gave them the op­por­tu­nity to branch out.

“As things got more re­laxed, the brand just nat­u­rally evolved,” Ariel said. “And we had all this rock ’n’ roll, vin­tage and mil­i­tary stuff in our closet.”

They started in­ject­ing more of that into the col­lec­tion at the same time that their cus­tomer be­gan em­brac­ing such trends.

“In to­day’s world, you have to un­der­stand what value you can pro­vide,” Shi­mon said. His brother added: “When we started, it was rare to see peo­ple wear­ing cool clothes, but now the men’s busi­ness has just taken off.”

To­day, the brand is best known for its out­er­wear, cut-and-sewn hood­ies and sweat­pants, printed shirts and track pants. They also of­fer Ova­dia+, an ac­tive-in­spired col­lec­tion. “We al­ways look at what we want to wear,” Ariel said.

That will be the case on Tues­day morn­ing when they un­veil their spring 2019 col­lec­tion. This time, how­ever, they will break with their tra­di­tion of show­ing on a run­way and in­stead host a “pre­view” for press and re­tail­ers. The event will be ac­com­pa­nied by a dig­i­tal film that was shot in Mon­tauk.

“We’ve been do­ing shows for four years and we wanted to switch it up and chal­lenge our­selves,” Ariel said. “We live in a time when the tra­di­tional way is not nec­es­sar­ily the right way. This is a way to con­nect more in­ti­mately with ed­i­tors, buy­ers and friends of the brand.”

Over the past seven years, Ova­dia & Sons has de­vel­oped a cadre of friends, in­clud­ing Neil Pa­trick Har­ris, Kevin Du­rant, Vic­tor Cruz, Big Sean and oth­ers.

Their first move into the col­lab­o­ra­tion mar­ket was in 2017 when they teamed with Steven Har­ring­ton, an L.A.-based artist known for his con­tem­po­rary Cal­i­for­nia psych-pop aes­thetic. Ear­lier this year, they cre­ated a line of Sherpa-lined trucker jack­ets with Levi’s Au­then­tic Vin­tage as well as a GapFit/Ova­dia+ ac­tivewear cap­sule with The Gap.

Com­ing this fall will be col­lab­o­ra­tions with the es­tates of Elvis Pres­ley and Joe Strum­mer of The Clash as well as So­cial Dis­tor­tion — “fig­ures or char­ac­ters we love,” Ariel said.

At the event on Tues­day, they will show off their lat­est col­lab­o­ra­tion with Stan­ley Mouse, the artist best known for his 1960s psy­che­delic rock con­cert poster de­signs for The Grate­ful Dead and oth­ers.

“We’ve been fans of his since we were teenagers,” Shi­mon said. Now 77, Mouse, whose real name is Stan­ley Miller, al­lowed the brothers to dig through his ar­chives and cre­ated some art pieces specif­i­cally for the col­lec­tion. His col­or­ful skele­ton on a surf­board il­lus­tra­tion will be used on ev­ery­thing from se­quined bomber jack­ets to hood­ies.

Also new this sea­son is their first line of bags de­signed with Porter, an­other long­time fa­vorite of the twins.

Out­side of the of­fi­cial col­lec­tion, they re­vealed they are also work­ing with the es­tate of Bruce Lee and have cre­ated a cap­sule col­lec­tion with his im­ages and a ref­er­ence to the karate school he founded.

All of these projects have ne­ces­si­tated Ova­dia & Sons ex­pand­ing the back end of the busi­ness. To­day, there are 20 peo­ple on the pay­roll and a four-per­son of­fice in China, and they’re ac­tively search­ing for a pres­i­dent to join the team. “We’re get­ting close,” Shi­mon said.

Un­til that time, the brothers con­tinue to over­see ev­ery­thing them­selves, with Ariel fo­cus­ing more on pro­duc­tion and Shi­mon man­ag­ing the cre­ative. They both do the de­sign­ing. “We’re still a small brand,” Shi­mon said.

That may change next month when the brand will en­ter eight over­seas mar­kets in­clud­ing Ger­many, Qatar, Swe­den and Bel­gium in re­tail­ers in­clud­ing Gate Berlin, Ga­leries Lafayette in Qatar and Har­vey Ni­chols in Hong Kong.

Look­ing ahead, the brothers re­main re­al­is­tic in their goals.

“We want to do what we’re do­ing big­ger and bet­ter,” Ariel said.

That means build­ing on the solid re­la­tion­ships they have al­ready es­tab­lished in the U.S. at the same time as they ex­pand in­ter­na­tion­ally.

And even­tu­ally, they hope to open their own re­tail store.

“I al­ways tell Ariel to shoot for the moon and the stars and grab what you can on your way up,” Shi­mon said. “We’re just get­ting started and we con­tinue to push our­selves ev­ery day.” ■

Ariel and Shi­mon Ova­dia

A look from the brand.

A de­sign from a col­lab­o­ra­tion by the brand with Stan­ley Mouse.

A de­tail of an Ova­dia & Sons jacket.

A de­tail of a pair of pants.

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