"WE WILL CREATE CULTURAL FOUNDATION OF WORLD'S NEW ERA”
Tourism was once considered as one of main approaches to boost economic development and even then, Ministry of Tourism paid a great deal of attention to the sector with goal of attracting 1 million tourists a year.
But we should rethink about what we have to show and entertain them. Despite not much enough to attract tourists and travelers, we can see from what “Treasury of Empire” project has done that we are still able to introduce uniqueness of our identity and especially to write new chapter in history.
In “startup business” section, we interviewed U.Gantseteg, Head of “Treasury of Empire” project
Please introduce us about “Treasury of Empire” project?
Firstly, let me speak about the reason to initiate the project. I think - we, Mongols who once established numerous large empires in history of humankind, are pledged to enrich and demise our wealthy culture and values to next generations.
Mongolian Deel /traditional outfit/ has been acclaimed as its design and originality. For instance, Pian del Carpine, first European making trip to Mongol Empire, once admiringly wrote about the deel in his account named “History of Mongolia" while we know that the outfit of Queen of Naboo in Star Wars film was based on one of a Mongolian Queen. In other words, we really wish to invent something which promotes our identity and to be proud of.
Thus, we are currently working on design of precious and distinctive “Treasury of Empire” collection which reflects and couples cultural heritage, special features and originality of traditional Mongolian outfits with modern design ideas.
We strive to express highness and bold aspects of ancient Queens combined with designer’s ideas in our collection. The project will run between 2010 and 2018. We work and create designs based on studies of cultural heritage, traditional art, design patterns and archeological findings. Inventor and my husband D.Ariundelger, who has been studying the field for last 25 years, initiated the project.
How many designs are included in the collection?
The collection consists of total of 50 works. In details, each work and design express different identity of 50 queens and princesses.
What is reason to draw models with Western feature instead of Asian one?
I expect you to ask this question. We did not actually pay a great deal of attention to faces and features of fashion models. The reason is that we aim to promote and introduce designs by hiring world-known models. For instance, face in “Western Princess” design is familiar with one of famous model Irina Shayk. Why not we offer and work with “Irina Shayk” to promote Mongolia, who once claimed she has Tatar blood, descended from Mongolia. In relation, we contacted world-known brand “Quintessentially Lifestyle” and received positive response.
What are benefits of the project?
First of all, the project will make contributions to evolve and restore Mongolian history, culture and traditions. In the further, we are looking forward to promote Mongolia and its history and traditions through fashion to world stage and plus create a brand of Mongolia.
About the collection name, “Treasury” is something which is always accumulated and enriched so that we expect to add works not only from D.Ariundelger but also other designers in the future. What we drive to do is not only something related to fashion but also creation of cultural foundation through restoration of history and traditions.
In other words, we need to leave our next generation something intangible and valuable apart from exhibits shown at local museums. We now reflect features of archeological findings into our designs and works, which encourages us to establish local jewelry market.
Today local people usually prefer foreign brands such as Swarovski – but we also have plenty of potential to look fashionable and stylish in local jewelry brands. We first found idea of making local jewelry from December edition of “Business Today” magazine in 2014, which featured works of world-known jewelry makers as well as one of Ariukaa (D.Ariundelger).
As we visit your Facebook page, we found you plan to produce many other things such cards and books. What else is planned within the project?
The project has four phases. First, we finished drawing of 50 pictures of the project in 2014. Next, if we successfully implement the project as expected and complete half of 50 designs, we will organize conference by inviting history scholars, researchers, archeologists and fashion designers.
Booklet of the conference will be released in five languages. The book you might have seen on our page is photo of the booklet. Then, after completion of all 50 designs, we plan to make world tour to host fashion show with presentation of 50 designs. It is estimated to spend around 4-6 months for making of single design.
Also, we have some ideas to print photos of designs on other products such as playing cards, calendar and puzzle toy. It is why we see the project at big picture.
How is the project progressing so far?
We draw all 50 designs’ photos in different sizes and brought all of them in Mongolia. The reason I said “brought” is that we lived and worked on the project in China during 2008-2013.
During that time, we had contracted and collaborated with a Chinese person since 2010. Since working for 3 years, he once offered us “Please register and receive patent of intellectual property for these works in China. Let us make world tour trip with those works – we can provide jewelry and finance if necessary. If you receive citizenship of China, you will not be lack of financial and other support”.
However, Ariuka who has been working in fashion field of Mongolia for many years and is patriotic did not accept the offer.
Moreover, we met CEO of “Louis Vuitton”. He also suggested “You can live for 5 years in France. We can cover all things including accommodation and living costs. But you should be quite and not mention single word about Mongolia”. These people are eager to promote their own countries respectively. But we did not receive their offers. They surely know how much value these works have. Instead, the project is not locally recognized and received here in Mongolia.
Thus, we brought the works and received the patent in Mongolia. Now what we need to carry out the project is investment.
Does it mean you do not have enough investment for the project?
Total budget is worth 5 billion tugrugs. We value single outfit as 100 million tugrugs which include gold, jewelry used and payment for those who work on it. We have total of more than 30 artists including craftsmen, embroiderers, and sewers, of whom 10 are craftsmen. Some of their works were valued as more than 200 million tugrugs and auctioned internationally. We carefully selected and hired our craftsmen.
Also, we invited embroiderers from North Korea to work with us. They help us to train local embroiderers. The reason to work with them is to create new type of material. Now we use imported cloths and materials in our works. If we create our own materials which would be hand made, it will definitely add much difference and values to our works.
We presented the project to former Minister Ts.Oyungerel and current Minister of Education, Culture and Science L.Gantumur. Unfortunately, they responded that investment is not available. However, we are thankful for officials from Ministry of Industry, who have positive attitude towards projects and pledged to support. We are definite to implement the project – we believe it could be dream of every Mongolian. Actually, just tiny financial donation by every Mongolian all over the world could lead to successful nationwide project.
We had chance to receive foreign citizenship by considering our livelihood. But we decided that our values and ideas must remain in Mongolia. We received bank loan by using our apartment as collateral and locally registered our works as intellectual property. Unfortunately, no one realizes its benefits and significance after we brought our works with hope and belief. Despite not as expected, we will not give in and are sure to make it happen.
What do you expect from the project as a result? Probably, what do we expect in 100 years?
Mercedes Benz show, Tokyo fashion show, Milan fashion week and etc. are traditionally held. Alike, why should not we host Mongolia fashion week in other countries? It is possible to promote and sell show invitations in cooperation with “Quintessentially Lifestyle” which provides special services to the affluent. Also, we plan to establish a museum with the collection. The museum could be where visitors feel and touch these works, and craftsmen and artists are able to work. Its interior and exterior are planned to reflect culture and traditions of Mongolia with traditionally designed furnishings so that it could be one of major sightseeing places for tourists.
Even we will require high standards on fashion models whose faces must be intact and without any transplants. Also, we will choose one as main model who will be face of the collection. We are still in the search of her.
Thus, it would be considered as big change in history in hundreds of years. Our motto is “we will create cultural foundation of world’s new era”.
We talk a lot about culture of Mongolia. We have streets of Beijing and Seoul here in the city. However, there is no street or outdoor place which shows traditions of Mongolia. Why do not we establish street which are packed and furnished with traditionally designed things such as bins, roads, fences and benches. For example, we could partly decorate and design National Park.
Please tell us more about your husband. He initiated the project and now works as fashion designer on the project. It is obviously beautiful to work with your husband towards same goal, is not it?
Ariuka has been working in fashion field since 1990. He respectively graduated School of Fine Arts and University of Culture and Arts, and then worked as professor for “Setgemj” college. Also, he used to work as contract fashion designer for Mongol Costumes LLC.
He participated in “Goyol” fashion festival for 9 consecutive years, and won second place. He studies and read history a lot and is very hard-working person.
Since I have lived with my husband for 15 years, I have barely seen him sleep whole night so that I have huge respect for hard-working and persistent personalities. Sometimes, I exclaim that “you really work hard for Mongolia”. I think we have too much respect for foreign brands. Ariuka says “We should wear outfits we design and make. It is actual brand”. Definitely, we should dress in our own outfits. It is obviously beautiful to dress in “Urban Jeans” and wear “Exclusive” jacket /local clothing brands/.
Alongside the project, we are also working on “Fashion the Wise” line which starts from the scratch. The line is designated for youth as daily fashionable outfit. We have already created first samples of the line. Soon, we will register it as intellectual property and supply to public market.
You mentioned that both of you worked in China. Do fine works made by Mongolian artists remain in China?
We even informed Ministry of Culture and Education that we let fine works of local talented artists to remain in foreign countries. We could not blame them because they work for their lives. It was same for us. No official does pay attention to this issue. We used to discuss about that “If Mongolia is financially capable, all these fine works would not have been remained abroad.”
The city where we lived is estimated to be visited by 300 thousands of tourists every day. As you have a look through window in morning, you can see around 20 buses with full of tourists. It means that they have exhibits and other things to entertain those tourists. I believe that we are capable as same as others, and create valuable things to attract and entertain foreigners as well.
Thank you for your time and interview. We wish you the best for future projects.
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