Founded in the midst of lockdown in December last year, Ograda goes beyond clichés that romanticise rural life. Its founders, Bucharest-based art director Nadejda Ghilca and copywriters Andreea Pîrvu and Irina Szellelki, aim to move past celebrating traditional national dress, or even glamorous landscape pictures. Instead, they capture photos of the rural life they encounter at grandparents’ homes — cockerels, white plastic chairs, or clothes drying outdoors — and stick them to hipster-classic cotton t-shirts, sweatshirts, and jackets. Produced locally by four seamstresses, the resulting clothes are sleek urban products enclosing “windows” onto village life.
“This is a project born out of joy, and we were convinced that it would also breed joy,” Pîrvu tells The Calvert Journal. After becoming bored of being trapped in their apartments mid-lockdown, the trio say that Ograda is an exploration of their roots, and a burst of nostalgia for the freedom and the nature of their grandparents’ homes. “I wanted to celebrate that feeling of being with lots of kids, jumping the fence, the smoky smell of aubergines cooked over bonfires,” Pîrvu says.
The products have caused a stir across Romania’s creative community, as well as amongst the diaspora, who are nostalgic for the places where they grew up. In addition to printing images of their own, or their friends’ photographs, Ograda also makes personalised clothes, using pictures sent to them by clients.
Having started by printing their images onto mainstream sweatshirts, the Ograda team now plan to create their own garment designs, inspired by what their grandmothers wore while labouring in the fields: working jackets, long skirts, and colourful headscarves.
The brand also wants to give back to struggling communities. Launched to mark the first day of school in Romania, their first charity project is a raffle where entrants can win an apron decorated with vintage embroidery. The decoration, depicting a schoolgirl, was found in a courtyard in the village of Viscrii. The money will go to planting forests near Bucharest via the charity @padureacopiilor. In the future, the Ograda founders would like to raise money to help solve specific local problems in villages across Romania.