They say two heads are better than one. It is definitely the case with twin brothers Ariel and Shimon Ovadia, the founders and designers behind the outstanding menswear label Ovadia & Sons.
Ariel (at right, above) and Shimon launched the brand in 2010 and quickly gained attention for their ability to combine street-inspired designs with traditional luxury pieces. They were named one of GQ’s Best New Menswear Designers in 2011, were a finalist for the CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund in 2013, and are nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear this year. They are also set to release their activewear label Ovadia+.
Not bad for two brothers who were born in Jerusalem and grew up in Brooklyn with no formal fashion training. What they lacked in proper education, they made up for in sweat equity working with their father, who sold children’s clothing and instilled a fierce work ethic in his sons.
We spoke with Ariel and Shimon to find about their brotherly bond, wearing the same clothes, and why they don’t have any style icons.
What made you want to start your own label? What was missing in the market that you thought you could fill?
SHIMON: We were tired of what we were seeing in the stores. The clothing either didn’t fit how we wanted or wasn’t the right design. There was an opinion and vision we wanted to share.
Ariel, what is the most important thing that Shimon brings to Ovadia & Sons?
ARIEL: A creativity and improvement to designs.
Shimon, same question?
SHIMON: Organization and systematic execution.
How does being brothers help in this business? How does it hurt?
SHIMON: We’re not only brothers, but twins. There’s a unique energy and we’re mostly on the same page but when we’re not, things get heated.
How does the division of responsibilities work with the two of you?
ARIEL: We design all of the pieces together but we each manage different categories in the collections. On the backend, I focus more on the business side and Shimon [works more] on the creative. Shimon is more of an organized chaos and I’m more systematic. What’s the most important lesson you learned from watching your father work in the fashion industry?
SHIMON: Hard work pays off. Keep your vision and stay true to yourself. Constantly adapt and improve what you’re doing.
As twins, were you forced to wear the same outfit as kids?
ARIEL: Yes, we wore matching outfits as kids. It eventually progressed to the same outfit in different colors. When we were teenagers, we naturally rebelled against that and expressed our individuality through clothing.
If there was a signature Ovadia & Sons look, what would it be?
ARIEL: Mixing sportswear pieces with luxe and refined pieces. For example, a tricot track pant worn with a cashmere sweater and a long duster trench coat and sneakers. It’s a NY vibe that’s youthful in spirit.
What did it mean to you to be named one of the Best New Menswear Designers?
SHIMON: It was cool for us to be recognized by GQ. Like everyone else, we grew up reading the magazine so it was humbling. We were just two kids from Brooklyn with no formal fashion training and we didn’t know anyone in the industry. How can guys figure out what style suits them best?
ARIEL: Stay true to who you are and what your life is like. Obviously, consider your body type and what colors work best for you. There are no rules to style, it’s about knowing what you like and being open to step a little outside what you’re used to.
How would you describe the current state of menswear? Where do you guys fit in?
SHIMON: Menswear is booming. The numbers and attention prove it. Men are conscious about what they’re wearing. They’re more educated than ever and that has a lot to do with social media. Ovadia & Sons is a fresh voice with a strong point of view. We make clothing that appeals to everyone whether they follow fashion or not.
What’s your morning routine? How do do you decide what you’re going to wear each day?
SHIMON: I wake up at 6:00 am every day. I’ll get dressed according to my mood or what I have planned for that day, keeping the weather in mind. Sometimes my son is running in between my legs and we’re enjoying a few minutes together before I make my way downstairs to make my cup of coffee to go. I drive in from Brooklyn and when I get into the city, Ariel and I have breakfast together. It’s the same thing every morning - yogurt with granola, blueberries, pistachios and agave.
Who are some of your style icons? What is it about them that appeals to you?
SHIMON: We don’t have style icons. We’re inspired by people we see everyday here in NYC. You don’t need to go far to get inspired here, the inspiration goes beyond people. It’s furniture, nature or even stitching on a cars seat that can inspire something in a collection.
What other projects do you have coming up?
ARIEL: We’re launching our activewear label OVADIA+. We’re excited for that. We’re nominated for the CFDA Swarovski Menswear award and a have a few new design projects and collaborations coming soon. Stay tuned…