Brand Focus: Dilli Studio -

Dilli, a sustainable fashion label based in Tyrol, was founded in 2020 with the mission of fostering an environment that stimulates thoughtful consideration. Socially critical themes in the designs have since become a hallmark of the brand. For the founder, Philip Leitner, sustainability and craftsmanship are fundamental in the creation of wearable items that are not only visually appealing but also positively influence society. We dive more into the back story and creative process of Philip's journey.


J: What’s the first thought that came to your mind today?
PL: If we evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?

J: Describe your perfect day, start to finish.
PL: For me, a perfect day is when I wake up and go to sleep with a light smile on my face. What happens in between does not really matter as long as I know I accomplished something.

J: How do you decompress and get inspired?
PL: All you need to do is to observe and put yourself in situations that are worth being observed. I frequently visit museums, exhibitions, and workshops to absorb different artistic expressions and perspectives. Also exploring city streets and engaging with people allows me to listen to the stories of the world around me.

J: What is an idea of yours that failed?
PL: Most of my ideas fail, but I usually take at least one good thing away from each failed idea. This often sparks a new idea and so on. If you try over and over, you will eventually reach a point where there is no other option but for it to work out.

J: Any regrets in life?
PL: No, I don't think that way.

J: Can you tell us more about your background in media design and how it influenced your decision to start Dilli?
PL: I first started Dilli and about two years later I began studying media design which has brought new perspectives and approaches to my work.

J: Coming from Tyrol, how has your cultural and regional background influenced your designs and brand philosophy?
PL: The part that most influenced Dilli was my 7-year service in the Austrian Army. Most of that time, I spent as a Sniper in the paratroopers battalion. This is where I really learned to observe, and this is where many of my ideas were born. What Tyrol showed me was how beautiful our nature is and how important it is to preserve it. This awareness greatly influences the ethos of Dilli, inspiring a commitment to sustainability and environmental responsibility in my designs and practices.

J: What was the initial inspiration or vision behind founding Dilli in 2020?
PL: Dilli is a playground for me where I can explore and express all the feelings I want. Dilli represents not just a brand, but a platform where I can experiment with creativity and craftsmanship.

J: You mentioned that every design has a profound idea behind it. Can you give us an example of a design and the idea it represents?
PL: Sure, there is, for example, the design “Everything for us” which focuses on what we want. In a world, where the contradiction between money, which means nothing, and the reality that you can’t get far without it, is always present, we are faced with the question: Do we want to be rich in money, or should we focus on being rich in joy and experiences? Do we have to choose between the two sides, or is it possible to have both? The design explores this question and can be read in two ways - either the full sentence “Everything they strive for has no value for Us” or only the filled-out text “Everything for us” - which is a contradiction in itself.

J: How do you come up with the motifs for your textiles? Can you walk us through your creative process?
PL: It can vary quite a bit but usually, I pick a topic for the design that I want to create. I begin with research, which ends up in a mood board. After that, I sit on a chair, close my eyes, listen to music, and start assembling the design in rough pieces in my mind. Then I transfer it to the computer and refine it repeatedly until I'm satisfied with it.

J: What sets Dilli apart from other multimedia brands in terms of production and design?
PL: Everything you see—whether it's pictures, videos, designs, prints, the website, shipping, etc.—is done by us. And by "us," I mean myself and a helping hand. There's no big company or loan funding Dilli. Everything we do, we do because we fully stand behind it.


J: Why did you choose screen printing as your primary method for printing textiles?
PL: I started screen printing by myself to avoid depending on other companies. This way, I don’t have any minimum order quantities, which is quite important for me because I don’t want to overproduce in large quantities. Screen printing also gives me the ability to get the best longevity and feel on the fabric. There are automatic machines available, but I prefer hand printing, which adds a personal touch to each shirt.


J: Can you explain the screen printing process to those who might not be familiar with it?
PL: Screen printing is basically magic. It’s the process of transferring a stenciled design onto a flat surface using a mesh screen, ink, and a squeegee. Getting the design onto the screen is a challenging yet creative process.

J: What challenges did you face when building your professional screen printing company, and how did you overcome them?
PL: One of the biggest challenges was financing everything. To overcome this, I built essential machines like the washout booth, exposure table, and dry cabinet myself. These machines are crucial for the screen printing process, and building them allowed me to save costs and customize them to fit my needs perfectly.

J: Over the years, how has your business evolved since its inception in 2020?
PL: Dilli has evolved and matured significantly. While its ultimate destination remains uncertain, I am confident that I am on the right path.

J: What have been some of the most significant milestones for Dilli since you started?
PL: The biggest one was the pop-up store which I hosted for three months in Schwaz. For the first time, I saw that Dilli really reaches people and I could see the reactions when they touched the fabric, felt the print, and started to understand the design.

J: What are your future plans for Dilli? Are there any new projects or expansions on the horizon?
PL: My goal is to enhance a single design by creating different kinds of media that reflect its essence. I want to put the idea in the middle and compliment it with the design and garment.

J: If you could collaborate with any designer or brand in the world, who would it be and why?
PL: Right now, that would be Van Neistat. He is the best storyteller I know and a major inspiration for me.

J: How do you balance creativity and business management in your role as founder?
PL: I used to dislike business management, believing that a creative person shouldn't be involved in it. However, I've come to realize that the better you manage your business and time, the more opportunities you have to bring your projects to life.

J: Finally, what advice would you give to aspiring designers and entrepreneurs looking to start their own brand?
PL: Well, it's hard. Much harder than you might expect. But whenever you feel overwhelmed and think your world is collapsing, take a step back, zoom out, and remember that in a few decades, you'll be gone and unless you're an emperor, no one will really remember you.

You can find out more about Dilli Studio here
Credits: All images by Philip Leitner / Dilli Studio.