Samera Entertainment and Chloe's Chronicles talks with visionary fashion designer, writer/producer, and philanthropist Sophia Dias, on style, expanding her brand, and what it means to give back
Written by ~ Chloe Brown/ Chloe's Chronicles
Q: Sophia, it is so great to get to speak to you! You are the creative visionary and designer behind your brand DIAS and your eye-wear collection GOA-WARP what was the inspiration behind starting these lines? And how did your mother, who is also a clothier, influence the brand?
A: I created DIAS GOA-WARP in 2014. What inspired me to start and name the brand was wanting to associate fashion with my upbringing and roots. I was born in Goa, which used to be a Portuguese Enclave for almost 450 years. I took that name and made it my own by adding the word “WARP” to it similar to “wrapped” just like the sunglasses I designed would be around your face. It was really important to me that the brand name meant something to me because I created DIAS based on my lifestyle. I have always been a very active person, I grew up playing squash, tennis, cricket, and climbing trees. But, I also grew up learning from my mom how to sew, so I wanted to take both sides of me, the active and adventurous side, and the creative and fashion-driven side to make a line for people like me who lived in both worlds.
Q: DIAS is known for being a trend-setting brand due to your unique designs, how would you describe the aesthetic of your clothes and how do you hope people style these looks?
A: Being a European brand, I visualize DIAS Eye-wear and Clothing as a fine line between classy and elegant and casual and sporty. I designed the line to be majority unisex, so any gender could feel confident and comfortable in it. Most importantly, for me, I hope that people style these looks with love and appreciate my vision, while also creating their own. I want wearing DIAS pieces to bring them joy and confidence.
Q: Sophia, how did you get interested in the fashion industry, and do you remember what the first moment that attracted you to it was?
A: Surprisingly enough I was a tomboy growing up. I got my first motorbike, which was a 2nd hand Chechoslovakian motorbike when I was 16. So, it wasn’t actually until my twenties that I started to appreciate and notice fashion and my eye for it. I think this change in perspective came due to my international travels and interacting with other cultures around the world, and with those experiences, I think the fashion bug just snuck up and bit me!
Q: You grew up living all over the world in many different design and art hubs such as Europe, China, and India, as well as, living in London and Hong Kong before settling in the States. What do you think visiting and living in those places taught you both as a designer, culturally, and as a person? Also, how have those cultural experiences and memories influenced your designs?
A: I think all my traveling inspired me immensely, it is really what opened my eyes to fashion and all the unique and beautiful things out there in the world. My designs are all primarily inspired by visiting different people, countries, and cultures. I am fascinated by cultures. I think the more you see and the more you learn, impacts who you are and what inspires you from then on. I get inspired every time I travel somewhere new, and I think my work definitely reflects that.
Q: Currently, you live in Chicago, where you have your Eyewear Design Studio, what led you to set up shop and home base in Chicago, and with this ability to have this specialized focus your eye-wear line where do you see it going in the future? What has been your favorite part of designing and conceptualizing these frames thus far?
A: Having traveled across the United States several times, my daughter and I fell in love with Chicago and its people. Although Chicago is my home base and where I design, my eyewear and clothing are manufactured in Italy, Japan, and Hong Kong. I don't think I could choose my favorite part of the design process with this project, I am and have been fascinated by every aspect of the journey.
Q: Sophia, besides being a mega-talented designer you are an avid philanthropist and activist for animal rights, Cancer treatment and research, Children with Cleft Palate, and many other worthy causes for women and children all around the world. Why have these specific causes touched you and made you want to help and how would you encourage others to get involved as well?
A: I have a great amount of respect for animals, children, women, and all people of the world. I have adopted three cats (Mr. Solar 11 years old, Ms. Salvatore 10 years old, Ms. Santorini 9 years old) from the Anti-Cruelty Society and Paws. They have all lived with me for 11 years now. I am also a proud parent of a Bernese Mountain dog named Mr. Santos, who is three-and-a-half years old. I have always been fascinated and drawn to animals and the love and benevolence they exude. It gave me great pleasure to serve as a Chair at the Children’s Cancer Foundation (2004) in China, as well as, be a Chairperson for Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee Charity Ball (2002) in Hong Kong. I am also proud to have served on the Women’s Board and belong to Catholic charities, in Chicago, IL. I go above and beyond to inspire others to get involved in these causes. I do this because I believe there is no better thing you can do than help those around you. I believe if you can help why wouldn’t you?
Q: In regards to your public service work you have also frequently worked with The Madonna House and have helped set-up cooking and painting classes for the residents staying there. You also have traveled to Israel to volunteer with refugee children. What have you learned from these experiences and people and how do you use your creative talents and platforms to create positive change like this?
A: The Madonna House is a home for destitute mothers and children. My daughter Shaday and I began volunteering there in 2010. Regularly, I host gala dinners for the inhabitants of Madonna House, creating exclusive menus for mothers and children. Over the last 25 years, I have visited and volunteered at orphanages in China, South Africa, Mozambique, Israel, and Ukraine amongst others. I feel it brings me closer to my God to be serving his people.
Q: What has been the biggest obstacle or challenge with having your own brand and being your own boss? What advice would you give to young designers who hope to be in similar positions?
A: Every day I make mistakes and I learn from them. I don't think I’d say one mistake or challenge has been “bigger” or more important than any other. They have all taught me something I needed to know and led to my growth personally and business-wise. So, I’d say my advice is simply to not be afraid to make mistakes.
Q: What’s next for DIAS and what can you tease about any upcoming lines or projects to our audience?
A: Next for DIAS, we are hoping to open a signature store in Chicago and expand our brand internationally. Our next collection is simply called FLOW, which we have made with love and lots of hard work in Istanbul.
Q: What do you think it means to be a designer in today’s day in age?
A: I think being a designer today means lots of hard work, creativity, and passion.