Two Best Friends Ditch Tech for Fashion Careers
When tech veterans Martha Davis and Susanna Dulkinys met in 2000 at a farmers market outside The Embarcadero’s Café deStijl, the moment was so impactful—as a first encounter with a kindred spirit will be—that Dulkinys can recall specific details of the “très chic and très functional” coat Davis was wearing: bright orange, rip-stop, pockets galore, asymmetrical zipper, Miu Miu. The sartorial note-to-file may have been something of a premonition. Twelve years later, after forging a friendship based on their many mind-meld-level similarities regarding fashion, design, and art, the duo debuted Dulkinys Davis, a line of what they call “artisanal tech” leather clothing.
“We view fashion through the lens of industrial design,” says Davis, an Alamo Square resident who oversaw product design at Razorfish in SF before launching her eponymous avant-garde women’s shoe line—think live-edge, black acacia wedges—in 2008. “We contemplate proportion, color, texture, and intelligence—how something is designed, its functionality, its innovativeness.”
Take the duo’s signature piece, the blouson: Its winged arm isn’t just poetic, it’s utilitarian—pockets unexpectedly appear in the generous cut. And gone are the days of powdering your legs to coax skin-tight leather pants into playing nice. The line’s trousers are modeled on the 1970s track pant and a much more relaxed, though sharp, fit. Don’t be fooled: Dulkinys Davis’ easy profiles belie their precision craftsmanship—each piece of supple Italian Nappa leather is cut by a CAD (Computer Aided Design)-driven micro saw.
“We leverage technology to make our products smarter,” says the Berlin- and SF-based Dulkinys, a former creative director at Wired Books (Wired magazine’s book division) and SF’s Goodby, Silverstein & Partners. “But embracing the warmth and soul of tradition is most important.”
Dulkinys and Davis—who debuted their line in Europe at the renowned concept boutique Andreas Murkudis during Berlin Fashion Week in January— relish this juxtaposition, waxing lyrical about the balance between line and form in iconic sculptures by Alexander Calder and Pablo Picasso, who have served as inspirations for the women’s artful designs. But consider this: The elegant pieces, poised to challenge the popular view on leather garb with their unexpected silhouettes and nude palette, are just the super-evolved, mega-distant cousins of caveman wear. “Leather is the oldest material man ever used to clothe himself,” says Davis. “It’s protective, yet suggestive; powerful, but soft. It just rocks."
This article was published in 7x7's March issue. Click here to subscribe
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