Note from the writer: In between our conversation with Dave Waldorf you will find pieces of his personality scattered around the article in the form of visuals.
Are you already recording? Oh, no… now the first 30 minutes you are going to hear me laughing…
He greeted me as soon as I approached his table in Aperetivo cafe on Cascade, where apparently he likes to hang out. Wearing a military combo with a leather jacket he definitely was ready for an upcoming light breeze of a spring evening that was just around the corner. Seeing his photoshoots beforehand has shaped an impression of him as a hard to approach young artist. But after few minutes of warm introductions and not quite a smooth transition to the interview, Dave hastened to offer setting aside the interview for a while and instead get to know each other better. In fact, the interview seemed more of a friendly conversation than a formal interrogation. It touched upon several topics and issues concerning the Armenian fashion industry, the culture of taboos in self-expression and the personal artistic preferences of Dave Waldorf.
Dave Waldorf is a social figure who is mostly known for his Instagram and blog activities, where he shares visual content illustrating his passion for fashion and photography. Having a total of 106k followers, he works for a famous fashion retail company, Farfetch, where he promotes various brands’ products. Along with cooperating with Farfetch, Dave loves to be involved in different projects that resonate with his interests; for instance, a collaborative project done for La Galleria. “I cannot do something that bores me,” he says. This also relates to his educational path. During his junior year in the French University where he studied Marketing, he realized that his expectations of managing practical projects, that would be done within the frames of his studies, had turned out to be another math class that bored him. One thing that remained as one of the interests for which he still has a burning passion for almost a decade is photography. Referring to the project that he is most proud of, he confidently states, “I am the project I am most proud of,” meaning all the work put on self-development results in an individual i.e. Dave Waldorf.The current issues of the Armenian fashion industry that prevent artists from producing high-quality garments and items of clothing in the country have been widely discussed. In addition, the lack of the experts both in design and communications spheres has impacted other branches of the fashion industry—for instance, PR, marketing, blogging, and fashion illustration. And this might be the reason why this topic has been “chewed” or even “undercooked” to such an extent that during the interview we had only managed to talk about one main issue that Dave considers to be the reason why the Armenian fashion industry has “little potential in reaching the heights of the sphere” as our neighbour Georgia has done in recent years. “Armenians are afraid to be different.” On the question of whether he ever dealt with negative comments or looks on the streets of Yerevan because of his peculiar style for the Armenian public, he answers, “You see, in Armenia, people like to stare at each other. They would stare at anyone regardless of whether they look different or not.”
Since most Armenians are afraid to be different, with certain restrictions and lack of individualism, “the different” is perceived quite negatively. However, since staring at people in Armenia is an ordinary phenomenon, “you are going to fall under it whether you want it or not. And yes I have been looked and stared at, and I do not consider it to be something not common for the Armenian case.” Armenian fashion market has numerable issues including lack of professionals, fabrics, and originality in the industry. And the more events are being organized in Yerevan on fashion, the more vividly the issues appear on the surface. When the discussion touched upon several events on trends, Dave said, “it is interesting why we prefer to talk about what is in trend rather than talk about the current news in politics. For instance, how women are being beaten by the State authorities.” He was referring to the case when Marina Khachatrian—a member of the Yerkir Tsirani party—in an attempt to show how dirty the water was in the capital to Mayor Taron Margaryan, was several times beaten by the Republican Party members. Dave also points out that Armenian youth has a potential in developing the art market; however, those who are creative usually lack a commercial feature that prevents them from establishing an image and label to promote. It begs the question whether universities that specialize in art do offer courses on marketing, branding or business, in general. According to the State Academy of Fine Arts website, out of nearly 34 courses taught in the faculty of fashion design, only one course is dedicated to the business sphere which is marketing. And considering the fact that the State Academy of Fine Arts is the leading institution which trains future fashion designers in Yerevan, a certain number of students who graduate the academy do not have a strong business background which will support their future career endeavors in the fashion industry. Recently, during the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week in Tbilisi, I met Dave along with his friend Varditer, who is also closely involved in the fashion industry, attending shows at Tbilisi Circus while pulling off their best looks on the streets of Tbilisi. Dave’s looks from the Mercedes Benz Fashion Week were repeatedly posted in Vogue, Le21eme, Elle, and more. Moreover, his passion for photography had also caught Vogue Italia’s attention to the point where they posted his photographs on their website.