3O6A4386-6-Edit-2-Edit-EditDefne wears SevenThirtyOne H jacket in black, and Nanushka Rafi sweatpant.

Exclusive to OAK in the US, SevenThirtyOne is the result of chance meetings, road trips and personal tests. When Canadian designer Defne Husrevolgu arrived in Paris – after leaving school and a successful stint designing handbags in Bolivia – she wasn’t exactly sure what her next move in the industry would be. “Instead of sitting in class and learning how people ‘made it’ I was like ‘fuck this, I’m leaving,'” said Defne when visiting our studio last week. After moving into an apartment in the Saint-Denis neighborhood, which Defne describes as the Ghetto of Paris, she became friends with her upstairs neighbor, Maiko Suzuki. “Maiko was also working in fashion at the time, but wanted to grow up, and I wanted to start my own line,” recalls Defne. Discovering they both shared the same birthday – July 31st – the two decided to create an entire collection in one week under the name SevenThirtyOne.

Shop SevenThirtyOne at OAK.

OAK: Can you take us through the process of that first week of creating SevenThirtyOne?
Defne Husrevolgu: Day one was a top, the next day a dress, and then a jacket. We conceptualized a new piece every day out of six different fabrics. To be honest, I thought Maiko was too good for me at first. At the time she was working as a buyer for a successful store in Japan, and I didn’t expect someone else to follow through with this project the way she did, but on that first day she was knocking on my door to go fabric shopping. After that first collection, I asked her to become my business partner and from there we showed our first season in Paris in a small bookstore/cafe called OFR in Paris.

OAK: And from there you brought the line to the states?
DH: My goal was to show in New York at Capsule. We felt more comfortable in New York. But the first place we sold to was actually a store in Kuwait of all places. We were surprised by that. So right now we’re selling in Kuwait, Japan, and at OAK!

OAK: The actual design of SevenThirtyOne is unique in that it doesn’t use any zippers or buttons. In your brand’s bio it says you wanted to create pieces that become a second skin. Can you tell us more about what inspired the decision to create your pieces this way?
DH: We wanted to create a collection that both of us could wear. Maiko is smaller than me, and also the more reserved one. We wanted something that could fit both of us with different styling. We wanted to do something different, and that wasn’t just using pattern blocks, but also something that could be integrated into your closet. It would be cool to wear altogether, but the goal of SevenThirtyOne is to enhance your everyday pieces.

OAK: You mention that you’re big on road trips. How does traveling inspire your collections?
DH: The inspiration for this collection began in Scotland. There’s an element of “coldness” to the collection that I feel like is reflected in the environment there. Maiko and I also traveled to Chicago, and the architecture there definitely influenced the shapes and construction of the collection, and the sky is a bit darker there, which also played into the colors. And finally, Toronto was where we finished the collection. All of the fabrics were sourced there.

3O6A4450-70-EditDefne wears SevenThirtyOne J over top in grey, Candamill helix top in black, and OAK long rider short in black leather.

OAK: What do you like to do for fun outside of designing your collections?
DH: I like to paint. I work a lot with watercolor. Actually, my designs begin with a watercolor image before I begin drafting samples. I also like to cook. I love going into a friend’s cupboard and seeing what I can throw together. My friends are like “I didn’t even know I had this in there,” and I’ll come up with something delicious. I’m also finishing a book. I think it could actually be a musical. I’m always breaking out into song.

OAK: What are you listening to? Does music play an important role in your design process?
DH: I love supporting local Toronto bands. I also really like Living with Lions, who aren’t local by any means, but I had their record on repeat while finishing this collection.

OAK: What’s your favorite movie?
DH: Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. When we were younger, my friend and I would get the candy that was in the movie and try to eat it at the same time the characters did.

OAK: What are you most looking forward to about fall?
DH: Fall is so cozy. I love to cuddle, or layer up around a bonfire.

3O6A4523-143-EditDefne wears SevenThirtyOne long sleeve short top in black, and Won Hundred Brigitte jeans in black.