FASHION TALES Sofía Calvo F
FASHION TALES SofĂa Calvo Foxley First edition (spanish version) in Chile: August 2013 First edition (engish version) in Chile: May 2014 Investigative assistant: Teresita Calvo Foxley Layout and design: Zara HormazĂĄbal Insets: Mario Barretto Romero Illustrations: Isidora Morales Intellectual Property Rights Registration Number: 241201 ISBN: 978-956-353-824-3 English Translation: Steven Wilson
The spanish version of this book was printed thanks to:
Cover photograph: Close up of a MartinJ dress taken by Ivor Fuentes
Table of Contents
Why consider fashion and blogs?
Fashion system: what is it and how is it created I. The tale of designer fashion
Chilean fashion identity: reflections three years before Chile´s bicentennial
Fashion in crisis: the creative boom after the storm
Chilean designer fashion: what next?
Recovering Chilean fashion: an identity under construction The sacred cows of the fashion world
The difference between the great master and the great ego
in fashion and beauty II. The creative process and its presentation in society
The importance of “Made In” for designer fashion
Creating fashion tales: a challenge for the present
Fashion with prestige: How does a brand or designer achieve prestige?
A twist on the material of Latin American designer fashion: How to make it?
Reasons for editing a collection
Designer fashion and the fear of copies: reflections at a crossroads
How to win over a first time fashion consumer? Challenges for designer fashion
Is there a runway culture in Chile?
Fashion dilemmas: between commercialization and experimentation
Runway events: Theatricality or simplicity?
Learning to communicate through fashion: good business practices
Fashion Criticism: a questionable business
III. Fashion tales and business 106
Starting a fashion business in Chile and Argentina: Difficult or easy enterprise?
The repatriation of fashion: a homecoming
The role of artisans in designer fashion: Can we understand their importance?
Designer and retail fashion: Complementary? Completely
The connection between designer and mainstream fashion: a mutually beneficial relationship
IV. My fashion tale 130
The search for a political message in fashion
CSR in designer fashion: a must for small and large businesses
The tyranny of collections: open up the changing room, I want out of here!
In search of fashion that can be handed down
Fashionista, fan of knock-offs? Fake fashion
Fashion blogs: their role in the Fashion System
Fashion bloggers and brands: â€œDangerousâ€? relations
Prologue By Pía Montalva*
The first question Sofia Calvo sets out at the beginning of this book revolves around two topics, designer fashion and fashion blogs. Later she places this problematic within the context of the world of fashion in Chile and Latin America. From that point, she organizes, rewrites, updates and illustrates a prolific and systematic production developed over six years at “Quinta Trends.” The texts that make up this compilation respond to the initial questioning while eluding complacency, cultivating a critical view and the most valuable aspect being the transparency with which the author faces her own role as fashion blogger and ambassador, within the still precarious business of fashion in Chile.
This position affords a privileged place from which to observe. It makes her position relative, for sure, but gives a depth to the analyses and proposals that emerge from her position. It marks the difference between Sofia´s work and some of the other discourses related to fashion which abound in digital media and expressed through subjectivity.
*Designer, Ph.D. in Latin American Studies, author of the books “To die a Little”. “Fashion in Chilean Society 1960-1976” y “Soft Fabric”. “Clothing and violence in Chilean Politics 1973-1990.” 8
Without a doubt, this is not the case with Sofia. At the heart of the tension, and in that sense, lucid and fortunate, she expresses with loyalty and respect to her collaborators and possible business partners each one of the problems which affect Chilean fashion and the elements which support it. The absence of national policy which supports its development, the lack of long term business strategies, the necessity for the development of a local account that profiles and sustains each proposal and projects it on a global scale, the quality standards in terms of profession, the need to entice the consumer, and the lack of tolerance on the part of the critic. The writings are not limited to the analytical. The author suggests with conviction concrete alternatives, which are viable, and all laid out with clarity. Three ideas synthesize and orient her vision of fashionÂ´s future: identity, connections and digital platforms. On the other hand, modes and fashions- case studies with Latin America as the backdrop (Piti Palacios, Clothing genres, Paulo Mendez, Designer Clothing12-NA)- tells of the materiality and the interstices where everyday realities emerge. We celebrate the publication of this book because it allows us to read and appreciate Sofia CalvoÂ´s work in real time, while also being able to refer to it again and again and to discover new points of view.
Ignacio Luchugaâ€™s workshop by Igor Valdebenito /1 11
Why reflect upon designer fashion and blogs? In a country where tabloid news reports, in the press, on television, and internet are a daily event it may not make too much sense to reflect upon blogs and designer fashion. The “common thing” to do would be to consider fashion as a frivolous and sumptuary activity and blogs as a tool used for the glorification of the ego, which supports an industry. Now I hope that we can demystify these assumptions. Fashion as identity My interest in fashion did not come from my need to clothe myself, but from my desire to create a story which expresses myself through my wardrobe. On this path I came across designer fashion from Chile and later Latin America- and came to understand that not only were individual stories woven into these clothes, but those of groups and nations, that needed to be communicated to society. At that time-2007- online pages that talked about fashion on a deeper level did not exist, for that reason I decided to create my blog, I was motivated by the idea of making my blog into a platform, rather than just a site to promote and spread the word about designers and brands. However, this ambitious objective ran into the reality of the Chile´s budding fashion industry and my ignorance of how the different players operated within it. More than once I was knocked about, which rattled me but I did not give up. This variety of situations showed me that “A silent agenda”
surrounds the fashion world and it helped me understand that improvisation with a na誰ve perspective does not work in a world where at the end of the day money in the cash register is what makes or breaks your fashion brand. I also came to understand that fashion blogs are not only obligated to communicate honestly and transparently, but also must reflect upon what is our part and that of the industry in the fashion world, while taking advantage of the privileged position that traditional news media and social networks were giving us. In turn I also came to understand that the people who blog about fashion are in the shadows and we do not know what their interests are and what motivates them. This confusion has caused an impasse for fashion brands, above all mainstream brands, and bloggers to communicate; they cannot relate and are grouped together because of their ignorance as to how much variety exists in the world of bloggers. What does this panorama suggest? That fashion bloggers, just as designer fashion, should clearly demark their editorial position so that brand identity will be able to transcend and effectively add to the discourse about fashion in Chile. At the same time, they should offer new, innovative, collaborative and synergetic forms of business administration. To be able to achieve these goals it is crucial not to lose sight of what it is and represents, while understanding what is their position in the fashion scene, without losing track of their readers, those who in the end decide to whom they will show support and loyalty. Today, more than ever one must reflect upon designer fashion and blogs and not get sucked into the exploitation of fashion as entertainment.
Fashion system: What is it and how is it constructed? Fashion, even though it may not always seem so, belongs to society, yet, not only as an economic factor, but also as a part of the whole. In the fashion system, in fact, it is shown to be a cog in the clock works where the harmony of the parts is a fundamental aspect necessary to achieve good results. Yet, what is a fashion system? The creation of a Fashion System The fashion system, as opposed to the production line, cannot be explained in a linear way, but holistically. This means that not only the industry maintains it- suppliers, brands, distributors, etc. those directly involved, but also the country/city (depending on whether the perspective is local or national) where it is located. That implies that to have success and become a force in the industry a transversal strategy is required, in which all of society is involved, and it is understood that its importance is not only as a source of employment, but also a local identity and image. In the fashion system, the different parts collaborate and coordinate to achieve results. Political and public determination is required, not just private investment. Therein the work plan is coordinated not only with representatives from the fashion industry, but also those from the hotel, tourism, and restaurant industries etc. What is for certain is that a commitment must be formed between all of the participants, close to and far from the principal figure: fashion.
The fashion system requires that all involved have the same objective and commit to acknowledging the symbolic value of fashion. This is reflected in the essence of its territory and nation. That is to say, that fashion is defined through the values that society identifies with it. For example, elegance, innovation, vanguardism, tradition, craftsmanship, etc. In Italy, France and England it has been understood this way, which has transformed Milan, Paris and London into fashion capitals in which one feels a part of this mystique, which is intensified during their fashion weeks. The Latin American example of this reality is Colombia, which has taken steps to function according to a fashion system. In Argentina, although there is no paradigm, all aspects of positioning a country within this international context of fashion and design are in place. For Chile to adopt the idea of a “fashion system” we would need: · Governmental support: a declaration, for example, by the Ministry of Culture, according to the idea of adopting a plan which seeks to create a “fashion system”. · Willingness on the part of private industry: there must exist the intention on the part of the diverse members of the fashion industrysuppliers, designers, brands, distributors, etc- to participate in a process which is not dominated by one entity, yet is a process in which all involved work together, just as a rowing crew acts in a smooth, coordinated fashion and with a consensus about the rowing rhythm and route to navigate. · Willingness on the part of other industries: the intentions of the restaurant, hotel, and tourism industries which function around the fashion industry- and benefit from the events associated with it- such as fashion weeks, runway events, etc- must also participate in unison with a unified work plan. · A strategic game plan: without one it is impossible to coordinate efforts and move the system toward the shared goals. Ideally, they would be able to agree on a midterm goal.
Bazar La Pasi贸n by Pilar Castro /2 16
The fashion designerÂ´s tale 17
Chilean fashion identity: reflections three years before the bicentennial What is the Chilean fashion designerÂ´s identity? How is it constructed, of what is it made up? Though I do not have a definitive answer for each of these questions, at the present, three years before ChileÂ´s bicentennial, I am taking the risk of reflecting upon them and their origin: Latin America. On the path toward an identity On one of my last trips to Buenos Aires I had the opportunity to talk with different independent designers about the identity of Argentinean design and the way their brands interpret it. Amongst the many answers I received, I did not get the much anticipated explanation of concepts which I thought would be the philosopherÂ´s stone for resolving my doubts. Nevertheless, I was able to establish a common pattern which through the process of elimination is not only applicable to the other side of the Andes Mountains (Argentina) but also here in Chile. Having just recently formed a designer fashion movement means that just recently it has entered into its adolescence, and is going through a process of discovering what it is and will be. For this reason, the definition of what it is does not come from concepts, but from diverse, local narratives which intermingle and complement each other within a greater scheme. In the Latin American stage I will risk saying that these stories make up a rather clearly defined narrative, which confers on us unique traits and turns the gaze of the rest of the world toward South America. Yet, why does Chile
hardly appear as an incidental player in this novel? My impression is that we have not figured out how to organize our narrative because we have not learned to look at our identity within a national context, with our feet firmly planted on the ground, the ground which is in contact with our feet and not our minds. We are so accustomed to looking for external reference points or to recycling foreign experiences that we have not concerned ourselves with looking right around us. In that sense I don´t mean literally to transcribe through ethnic clichés but to identify with and grasp our local identity. An example: Valparaiso, Chile is a city full of mystery, niches and post card scenes which make it unique. Nonetheless, many designers in the area embrace projects which would seem to have been exiled to the country from nowhere, totally uprooted from their surroundings. The crisis effect Another aspect which I found quite revealing in my conversations was that the thriving process the Argentinean designer is going through came about from a period of nationwide crisis in 2001, in which the questioning about “what we are and what we will be” was dormant. This would suggest that all of these processes of searching are circumscribed in an “empty” space which must be filled with mountains of ideas, projects and dreams. In the case of Chile I do not foresee such intense points of inflection as those experienced on the other side of the Andes Mountains (Argentina) in the near future. Nevertheless, I believe it is crucial to create our own standards as a country which will require us to take a look at ourselves. In the meantime, we will continue following themes for reflection – we are now just getting started – with our gaze upon our neighbors, who can help us to see our reflection in that ethereal mirror which reveals our identity. (Acknowledging ourselves through the perspective of the “other” may be the right path to explore).
Fashion in Crisis: the creative boom after the storm The crisis (personal, national or worldwide) may do away with selfconsciousness and spark action. In a time of crisis creativity activates and emerges as a way of surviving uncertain and precarious circumstances. In 2001 Argentina experienced that same process, with the birth of a fashion designer movement. Even though in Chile we have not undergone a similar process, we are experiencing our own crisis. What has happened on the way? Here we will go over it. Chile in crisis? In Chile we are constantly complaining about what we don´t have: we don´t have a textile industry at the moment, we don´t have formal training for clothing designers (one which turns out individuals capable of starting their own businesses), we don´t have universities which teach students to analyze fashion, nor prepare professionals who participate in the whole production process (from the design stages to the arrival of apparel in stores) etc. Nevertheless, we have a market which has grown slowly, yet at a good pace. Alright, it is not ideal, but it is much better than we would have imagined under the circumstances. All of this demonstrates that instability demands us to be more creative and look for new ways to prosper and succeed. This is a given in the world of fashion as in other areas. Notwithstanding, one must not become a conformist and hope that ingenuity takes care of everything. In the example
of Argentina things got started in a context of tremendous social and economic crisis- the country defaulted on international loans, but once recovery (partial) began the importance of design as a national identity was understood, and they did not rest on their laurels. They did not wait for things to happen by themselves and for the creative people to do all the work. Instead a public policy was created and though it has not addressed all the problems there is no doubt it has provided a framework to work within, where even the large textile manufacturers have participated. That is to say: 1- The crisis happened; creativity emerged as a way to survive, as a way to face the uncertainty and chaos. 2- Economic recovery began and the designers began creating new brands. 3- Once stability was reached the government could set new prioritiesbeyond subsistence- and began to make public policy in these areas. In this process the private sector and designers worked together. I hope that as a country we do not need to fall into a black hole to reach the third step of this positive cycle - juice. And then the phrase “We don´t have” will not be an excuse for not moving forward and making changes. Let´s take advantage of the crisis to open up our minds and find better paths for creating growth. What we do have Many talk about what we don´t have, but few point out what we have in “abundance”. In Chile there is: Creative talent: the boom in Chilean brands¬- at times slow but constant- of international events is a good reference point. Some examples are Parentesys in Columbiafashion, Raíz Diseño (Roots Design) in Columbiafashion and Buenos Aires Fashion Week, Paulo Méndez in Pasarela Punta del Este, Uruguay, and Pola Thomson in Paris Who´s Next.
Fashion blogs: even though the variety of blogs is endless, there are some in Chile that show a clear ability for supporting the fashion industry with their point of view and analysis with respect to national and international fashion. Fashion Magazines: The rise of fashion magazines such as One Book and Reviste La Calle are good examples that there is a market for fashion magazines in Chile. The other magazines mentioned above contain fashion articles and are distributed on a large scale nationwide, also adding to this trend.
Gabriel Vielma by Alex Rob /3 25
Matías Hernán by Aníbal Toro /4 26
Chilean designer fashion: what next?
The market for designer fashion in Chile has improved of late. I hear less criticism about the lack of attention to detail and poor quality of products; there are more designers who are producing collections with an introspective identity, and the means of distribution have become well established. Is that all we need? By no means. There is much more to develop, yet at the present we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. Let me present some ideas. Subjects to be discussed Any market that wants to transform itself into an industry needs to have more than just good intentions. Concrete strategies are required which will allow it to reach its full potential. We will attempt to make clear what a “strategic plan for Chilean designer fashion in 2014” needs to have in it. Looking into the future of fashion In Chile we always think in the short term and tend to “dream small”. It is difficult for us to believe in ourselves and plan long term, with results that are long lasting and do not fall apart quickly. For that reason designer fashion in Chile should think about how to grow on a national as well as international scale. It needs a “road map”. In recent years a number of initiatives have been developed to revitalize the fashion industry and give it an identity. Nevertheless, these efforts have been in vain since they have not been backed up by a sound national policy which would give them direction.
Now is the moment to begin thinking about a strategic plan (with objectives for 2014) and another long term plan (with guidelines for 2016 at the half way point of the decade). Local and national networking The above proposition will not be possible without a network in place. Designer fashion must shed the skin of distrust and begin to think as a team. An effort in this direction is the creation of Chilean Fashion (look at the inset), together with regional fashion groups such as Facotría Valparaiso (Valparaiso Factory) or Diseño Independiente de Valdivia (Valdivia Independent Design). Still, there is much left to gather and build. Now is the time to begin to think of an “US”. Doing business Planning on a small scale is linked to the kind of reflection each brand should do about its business strategy. I believe that this context offers the opportunity that must be taken to make this effort to organize, above all when the brand has been on the market longer. Now is the time to consolidate these efforts, to understand who we are and where are we going. This individual drive can be capitalized on if it is given a global perspective. On the other hand, new brands must break into the market with a backup plan ready and learn from the errors of others so as not to repeat them. Digitalize the marketplace In the middle of 2013 it almost seems redundant to speak of digitalizing the designer fashion marketplace. However, regrettably it really isn´t. There are still many brands that do not understand how to express their identity in a digital format and waste time using platforms which were never intended to fulfill the objectives of an enterprise. Over and over again it has happened with Facebook and to an extent with Twitter also (a much underused tool).
Hibrida by Pilar Castro /5 31
This problem is exacerbated when the offline identity is not even recognized in a non-digital context. What can be done? Perhaps, professional training, looking for help, investigating on the internet. Any one of these options would help to find a direction. Those that believe that the digital format is limited to a still picture of a product are doomed to failure. Presently, a digital identity is not only linked to an image, but also to our capacity to articulate and capitalize on networks that we are creating through the internet. Exploring new ways of market positioning and distribution Social networks stand out as an alternative, but they are not the only one. Design fairs were at one point another option, but have been losing ground little by little and only those that can provide a good selection of products serve their purpose. Another possibility is online commerce. Many designer brands are finding this as a way to distribute without a middleman, or at least to gain access to the national market, which is not possible from a physical store when regional locations are lacking. However, these are not the only options. Development of a marketing platform for fashion shows or something similar, which substitutes the socialite for the creation of enterprises, is a pressing challenge for the marketplace. If we maintain the belief that runway events are merely social parties we will not make the necessary leap forward. Another alternative is the exploration of formats in Latin America with good exposure. I believe that BAF Week and Colombiamoda are interesting options for some brands (not all) due to their media coverage.
The recovery of Chilean fashion: an identity under construction Industrial design in Chile has discovered how to recover a Chilean identity reinterpreting forms and finding new use of materials which form a part of our tradition. Nevertheless, garment design seems to move at a slower pace in this area (modern jewelry being the exception). While the furniture industry is recognized worldwide for communicating a “glocal” message (neologism of global+local) that marks the difference, in fashion we have not moved beyond good intentions. What is missing to be able to move forward proactively? Chilean identity in fashion In the book “To die a little” by the historian Pía Montalva, we can appreciate how figures such as Marco Correa, Enrique Concha, Nelly Alarcón, to name a few, were the creators of an autochthonous fashion. Motivated by the recovery of an ancestral legacy, they decided to modernize and give it new life, in such a way as to create a fashion which differentiates itself from the predominant paradigm in Europe. “This movement recovers the Latin-American essence as a source of inspiration or as a cultural and visual reference point, yet always assumes the role of mediator on the part of the designer who gives of himself in each age the modern elements,” Pia states in her book.
1 Montalva, Pia “To die a little: fashion and society in Chile 1960-1976”; Sudamericana, Santiago de Chile, 2004
Surely, the responsibility of the designer is to concentrate on reworking the meaning, without getting into artistic experimentation (it´s not an installation, nor a mask) developing new ways of creating and making Chilean fashion that embraces our roots, yet designing models that speak to us of innovation and not just imitations of the native elements of our country. Despite this new standard, historical circumstances have made us back up and take a second look at the northern hemisphere. At this point in the second decade of the twenty first century, the contributions of these important players in the world of Chilean fashion have begun to be reevaluated and recovered. Globalization forces us to look inside and reflect on what differentiates us from the rest, on what our local identity is based and how we can adapt it to this world where hybridization is second nature. In that analysis, industrial design led by such brands as Cómodo (forum of designers) Paola Silvestre, Made in Mimbre (wicker), to name a few, take the lead. Without fear of being pigeonholed they have taken materials related to artisanal and ethnic arts and converted them into modern and vanguard design pieces, where “Made in Chile” is the essence, not just a story. Contemporary jewelry has followed this trend. The JoyaBrava group is living testimony to this fact. But why does the fashion market evolve so slowly? It seems to me that the lack of confidence is due to the fact that autochthonous fashion has been mistakenly identified with hippie or ecological styles. This has contributed to the diminishing enthusiasm of Chilean designers for making their own design paradigms when it is time to create new fashion. The easiest option, which is also more marketable, is to get away from a national identity and be tempted to follow the current world trends. Nevertheless, in this context it is not about constructing from the literal, but creating our own language in which common themes differentiate us from our neighboring countries and give us our own unique charisma. An alternative to this is to draw from the 200 years of our country´s history.
Events, forms or historical figures can serve as inspiration to materialize this national identity. What is at stake for the participants of the DIVa cooperative and the designer Ocativo Pizarro, within very different contexts and styles, is the opportunity to see a path which is not a utopia, but a reality which will be possible only for the fashion designers who are not afraid to create fashion with identity. In todayÂ´s Chile we are able to mix past and present in culture. Why canÂ´t we do the same with fashion?
The case of Pitti Palacios Founded in Chile and specifically Valparaiso, it is one of the trademarks that the designer Pitti Palacios strives to communicate in her collections. 2012 marked the 10 year anniversary of the brand bearing her name â€œPitti Palaciosâ€?. It is characterized by the creation of new meaning and revaluation of the artisan craft of weaving through a modern design. It is full of colors and textures which are inspired by the same color palette as the colorful houses of Valparaiso, a hilly port city. This creative process thought through on a human scale, enables it to create sustainable products or slow fashion designed to be timeless and inheritable. http://www.pittipalacios.cl
Photo: Pilar Castro 36
Paula Kunstmann by AnĂbal Toro /6 39
Walka by Daniel Gil Rodrigo /7 40
Jorge Caballero by Jorge Caballero /8 41
The sacred cows of the fashion world
Right now is a perfect time to reflect on and go over a theme, which is not discussed in the world of the designer fashion. Even though in every field of art geniuses or masters exist, I believe the term “sacred cow” is different in that it is more harmful than helpful in the world of creativity. Presently I will go into just what I mean by that. Sacred cows made in Latin America? I strongly believe in the creators that take leave of the media and are able to inspire others with their work, enlightening the space in which others work or exhibiting their ideas (the enlightened). As a matter of fact, many of them are able to become “masters” whose vision and generosity allow them to pass on their knowledge and guide the next generation of designers, who may in turn also become masters. On the other hand, there are those “sacred cows” who move in different pastures and even though they are talented they have their heads in the clouds and an attitude that they are above everyone else and untouchable. This aspect is what differentiates them from the masters. The “enlightened” or “masters” are always looking forward because they know that they may make mistakes and are not perfect. For the same reason, they are open to constructive criticism and opinions, and are able to put them in context and transform them into a creative force, a driving force for growth. 42
This is opposed to the “sacred cows” who when faced by anyone that threatens their untouchable space, be it by criticism or a different opinion then they are used to hearing- always hear praise of course- are able to chop off heads like the Queen of Hearts in Alice in Wonderland, overreact and ignore the words which could help with their growth. For them anything that threatens to burst the bubble in which they are accustomed to living represents an enemy. Therefore, they miss out on opportunities to listen, learn and correct themselves. It is my belief that the media and blogs are primarily responsible for breeding these “sacred cows” and covering up the error with words about a good upbringing and making us blind to the obvious. I also believe that I have fallen into this trap and I admit that. It is the beginning of the 21st century and there is a scene in which we construct a Latin American identity for fashion- besides what is happening locally, of course- it is fundamental to see with eyes wide open and listen without interruption. It is the only way to grow and become an industry. Nobody matures and becomes an adult by receiving pats on the back. It is also not about switching to criticizing harshly or condescendingly, but to maintain a balance and use constructive criticism to build up, not break down. The objective is clear: create a fashion industry in Latin America and regionally which becomes a reference point. Quinta Trends is making this its mission all the way from the hands of masters and the enlightened (and the community of regular people who follow fashion) and is inviting the “sacred cows” to take off their robes and walk the same path as us. The goal is clearer when we all aspire to the same dream.
The difference between the great master and the great ego in fashion and beauty In the world of fashion and beauty the difference between a “great master” and the “great ego” lies in one´s ability: the ability to listen to the customer. Let´s take a look at some of the reasons that spark this reflection. The customer is always right When we think about the “great master”, be it in the world of fashion or beauty, dozens of names come to mind. Each one of them has the common characteristic of having been able to balance their own creative genius with both the explicit and implicit desires of a social group. In fact, their talent lies in their capacity to read and listen to the universe of the “other”, and they can bring it into being through an article of clothing, haircuts or makeup jobs. That process transforms them into figures that are adored, followed and admired by consumers around the world. In this way if they follow their own inspiration, their commercial success will always be linked to an interpretation of the desires of that segment of society in the hopes of winning them over. If they had not done so their work would only exist as exhibitions in museums and would not be marketable. Now what happens with the “great egos”? This kind of creative mind possesses talent- and may even approach genius- nevertheless through the “socialization” of their abilities they are swept up in the positive reviews and begin to believe that their way is the way. Even though this may not have
an effect on their reputation in the beginning, it could do so in the long run because of their refusal to listen to customers and act as if they existed in a vacuum. It is then that the unsatisfied customer, having been disappointed begins to spread the word in social networks as well as their circle of friends about their bad experience. It is there that the risk of failure lies, since good reputation is the flip side of bad reputation, which can spread quickly and overshadow the good. Often, the artist uses the excuse that “I did what I set out to do, but I was not understood”. This feeling of being deceived is not only harmful for the one who is affected, but also for the “great ego” artists who lose not only customers, but dozens of future business opportunities that will never happen. Also people could Google the artist and encounter a story that might dissuade them from thinking about patronizing the artist in the future. For the same reason, it is a pressing matter to not be deaf to the ego and to grow in talent, while also not forgetting that those who pay for our article of clothing or service are those who should be left with an infectious smile of satisfaction in the end.
Ignacio LechugaÂ´s workshop by Igor Valdebenito 46
The creative process and its presentation in society 47
The importance of “Made in” for designer fashion Creating a “Made in” product does not only entail a physical place, but also a series of qualities that confer added value and speak to concepts with which the consumer wishes to identify. What is required for “Made in” designer fashion to be more than just a reference point? Tell me your “Made in” and I will tell you who you are According to a study done be Boston Consulting Group,2 American consumers are willing to pay more for products made in the USA. While in the case of France and Germany, 65% of consumers prefer to spend more money on a product made in their own country. That is because the manufacturing has a different symbolic and economic value. Though the study does not go into this aspect, it is clear that the role of “Made in” implies a public-private political decision. This in turn confers on the local fashion industry values which differ from those of the traditional mass consumption model and are passed onto the consumer who accepts this new agreement. This kind of plan of action is generally associated with strategies which brand a country (long term) for the promotion and sale of products from the
Boston Consulting Group; “U.S. and Chinese Consumers Willing to Pay More for Made in USA Products”, November 15 2012. At: http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-121840
rest of the world. Even still, they are also applicable to the domestic market in so far as the industry is strengthened and a collective awareness is raised that “national is good”. The important part of this point is that the “national is good” must be supported by real patterns of quality, design and durability because if an image is sold without a firm base it will cause an opposite reaction: rejection, distrust and disillusionment. For designer fashion in Latin America this panorama does not only imply a market opportunity to strengthen their brands and vision, but also it constitutes a constant challenge which demands that it not become complacent in a comfort zone and that it aspire to improve day to day toward standards which demonstrate that “Made in” is not a bluff, but goes along with values which convert those who buy them into unique products with identity, quality and style. This is how some virtuous fashion systems such as Italy and France have functioned and how the USA has tried to strengthen its market. Chile has attempted to create an international image which provides an “umbrella” or all encompassing image of identification for its products, but that in the example of fashion this concept has not taken hold. Without a doubt, Latin America is indebted to itself in this area, since it has replaced –in an almost cannibalistic process- the “Made in” nationally for the imported, forgetting that the production process also speaks to an identity that the country wishes to project (understanding the external as complimentary). Argentina is one of the few countries that has concerned itself with this aspect, taking extreme and unfeasible measures, such as prohibiting imports. Furthermore, it has developed a plan for the international positioning of its fashion industry. Still, there remains much progress to be made.
Creating fashion tales: a challenge for the present
I suppose it must be a professional defect, but I cannot think of a life without stories. For this reason I love the arts and literature. In them I see an opportunity to transport myself to other worlds, be they imaginary or real, where there are no limits. As far as designer fashion is concerned I aspire to the same; to be enchanted by its tales that are transcribed onto cloth. They allow me to dream and connect to them. 2014 will be a good year to create more of them. Weaving fashion tales In the seven years I have dedicated to watching the world of designer fashion in Latin America I have noticed that a fundamental aspect of how it is experienced on a national and international level lies in how it is presented. That is to say, that a tale is only told to those close to it. That accompanied by good quality cloth and stitching, in addition to an interesting design it may turn it into a success. Why? Why does a consumer, not used to buying apparel with identity, need to be won over not only visually, but also with logic and heart. One must understand rationally where the article of clothing being used came from, the specific place and about the process that gave birth to this beautiful garment. That tale, that may be mundane for some or a waste of time, can be transformed into a factor which makes the difference when it comes time to buy.
I donÂ´t know about you, but I have ended up â€œfalling in loveâ€? with articles of fashion once I learned about their origin. They may have an attractive design, but I am won over when I understand the effort that went into making the piece, the care in selecting the materials, the way it was made, the place where it came from (it is not the same experience for me to purchase something that comes from the city compared to something that comes from a rural area). It is then that I understand not only its symbolic value, but also its market value. It is then that I can accept the price and become a spokesperson for its narrative. Once I make it a part of my wardrobe I form a pact with the brand that sells it. This implies that each time I wear it and somebody asks me about it I will tell them the story and reveal not only the name of the designer or brand, but also its tale. This word of mouth process is what helps lay a foundation on which to build an industry. 2014, the year of the water snake, is an ideal time for seduction and enchantment. For that to happen not only are fabrics, scissors and thread necessary, but also words that will give designer fashion its mystique and distinguish it from the mass produced market. The key is to knowing how to tell this tale.
The example of Ropa de Género (Cloth Fashion Apparel) “Sprit body – dress - art - surroundings” is the formula which sums up the creative process of Ropa de Género (Cloth Fashion Apparel), the brand name of designer and fashion maker María Eugenia Ibarra. In her vision she looks to “convert fashion into a balanced daily ensemble for women´s fashion”, through a tale she weaves season to season. This silent, but effective guiding thread, does not only provide a context in which to understand the source of her inspiration, but also makes us desire her creations as they are tiny treasures bearing histories and illusions. http://www.ropadegenero.cl
Photograph: Loreto Gibert 54
Uchi Bolcich by MartĂn Watson /9 57
Butrich by Ophelia Maldita /10 59
Fashion with prestige: how does a brand or designer achieve prestige? One of the criticisms that has been made when discussing Chilean fashion is the lack of “prestige or expertise of certain designers”. The question is how this “prestige” is gained. Although there is no definitive answer to this question, presently I will attempt to outline some ideas. How is prestige achieved? The most obvious answer is through experience. Looking over the history of such internationally renowned designers as Halder Ackermann, Azzedine Alia, Donna Karan, Junya Watanable, to name a few, I realized that at the beginning of their careers they all got their experience by working for important brands or other designers before breaking out themselves. That is to say they formed the necessary mentor-disciple relationship that helped them learn the secret skills of making quality fashion. Perhaps on the national level this type of apprenticeship is less common owing to the short supply of expert designers. Nonetheless, I believe that the situation will improve as new designers begin to find reference points or mentors – in a professor from an Institute or university or even a trustworthy tailor that gives them the support to learn the techniques associated with quality stitching, materials and even the ironing process. Along these same lines, the repetition of “trial and error” (of products not for sale) turns out to be a crucial part of perfecting technique. Nobody is born
with the all the necessary knowledge, and for that reason demands for self improvement must be made, not being complacent, learning from mistakes and not repeating them with a license to mediocrity. However, prestige is not only acknowledged in the work being transformed into a finished product, but also in the steps leading up, where the idea materialized. That is so because the designer must be a born investigator. They cannot wait for inspiration to come knocking, but must read, study, take pictures (or use Pinterest as an alternative), look for and develop an in-depth analysis which helps to improve their collection. This is the only way to achieve consistent and coherent creations. It is the same for writing a book. One cannot write without going over a bibliography, interviewing those involved and thinking a lot about the focus of their work. If this is not done, the results will be superficial and insignificant. That would be a sad story indeed. Years of experience improve this aspect. Once the habit of in-depth investigation is formed the results of this process will come faster, more spontaneously and improve in quality. Though there are many other ingredients for successfully achieving “prestige” with these in place great gains may be made. As consumers of designer fashion we must demand “prestige”; we must help by shaking up the self-complacency of institutes, universities, students, and in the end clothing designers. Without that, we will not be able to create an industry, and without an industry we will continue being just hit or miss in Google searches.
The example of Paulo Méndez Gaining “prestige” without having ever finished his formal education in clothing design is a feat not many can boast of. Chilean designer Paulo Méndez is one of them. The brand bearing his name debuted in 2009 at the Viste La Calle del Viña D Moda runway show. From that time forward he has gotten nonstop praise from the national and international fashion press and has become one of the highlighted public figures. http://paulomendez.cl
Photo: Jon Jacobsen 62
A twist on the material of Latin American designer fashion: How to make it? In Latin America we have a variety of interesting materials, and their textures and colors are only found in this part of the world. Nevertheless, many designer fashion brands cannot manage to make the creative leap of using them and they are relegated to the shadows of traditional design. How to transform these materials – wool, ague (multicolored woolen fabric native to the people of the Andes Mountains), felt, etc into fashion? Here are a few clues. A twist on the materiality While I was flipping through a VD magazine in the local newspaper the Mercurio, I stopped on a report about the Chilean sculptor Hugo Marín. At one point it mentioned the opinion of one of his biggest collectors, Guillermo Carrasco, who said “He is the first Latin American to work with clay in an expert sense, escaping popular art”. That phrase made me think about the way that a designer can take traditional materials and reinvent them. In this creative process some are not able to escape the most common shadows such as that of the poncho. Others make the effort to break down the forms, but inevitably the resignification is often too contextual and the artisanal origin is evident. I am not saying that it is bad that the “history of a material” is noticeable, but I believe that for it to escape the common place it is necessary to take
those materials and transform them into fashion objects. For that to happen one must deconstruct the easily recognizable silhouettes and get out of the comfort zone. We must take a fresh look at material and transform it into fashion with the essence of this century. But how do we do that?. 1- Experimenting with materials. Even though it sounds easy saying it, I believe that designers have to look for ways to get the most out of the materials they use, looking for new combinations or ways of giving them a different twist from the traditional way of using them. 2- Not only is it important for a designer with prestige to investigate, but also it is important to explore new creative frontiers and transform wool, aguayo (plant) leather etc. into articles of this century.
The example of Casa Kiro Cochayuyo (sea weed), hot red pepper powder, bristles of a broom, horse´s mane, shells from the beach, among other things are elements chosen by the architect Vania Ruiz to create her contemporary jewelry under the auspices of her brand Casa Kiro. With resin as an adhesive she has understood how to resignify and give a new function to everyday materials, transforming them into the elements that make up her “landscapes on a small scale”. http://www.casakiro.cl
Photo: Stefania Piccoli 66
La Joya Ian Rocca Oâ€™connor Nev Tejidos by by Gaby /11 69
Lorena Sosa by Ani sirabonian for Elephanto studioINTI: Land of diversity, time of contrast Exhibition, London. /12 70
La Joya by Ian O’Connor /13 71
Reasons for editing a collection
Editing. All professionals that have something to do with communication have this element as a base. Design and fashion are no exception. Those who create should in each collection select the concept they want to communicate, in such a way as to make it come to life in fabric. If it is not done this way they run the risk of creating a lot of noise without making a real statement. Yet, what consequences does skipping this step imply? Editing, the mother of the collections There is no doubt that fashion today is under constant attack by images, trends, and expectations that keep it in a permanent state of tension. For the same reason, designers, the same as journalists have to select from the sea of information on the internet- they must find what they believe is the most and is an important part of their collections to communicate in their creative process. In this process many concepts are juggled. That is so because only one, two or a maximum of three will be able to give coherence to what one wants to transmit and aid in communicating the essence of each article of fashion. For this reason it is necessary to edit, which implies sacrificing trends, colors, fabrics and even good ideas, in exchange for the best communication del cuore or the soul of the collection. When that is transformed into a tale, just as in literature, it has an introduction, exposition and denouement.
A fashion runway or campaign, which does not achieve this effect for a potential consumer or spokesperson who is watching (the social networks spread what is seen rapidly), will be an unfruitful effort, without meaning, that does not transcend, make a name for itself, nor is not profitable. The designers who do not understand that the 21st century is one of niches will be left behind, because they still do not understand the concept of longtail. People want to be won over by concepts, aspirations, desires (Anderson, 2004) which are more than a theory will be left behind. Their shops will close and fewer and fewer will still be in operation, trapped in a time machine. Undeserving of begin copied and remembered only in history books. To become a top fashion designer icon and a success outside the local market, one must edit and cut with sharp, big scissors until the pattern is achieved. The great collections, those which we remember and love most, are born out of this process.
Designer fashion and the fear of copies: reflections at a crossroads Creating an article of clothing which is 100% original is impossible. All brands and designers look for inspiration in the trunk of their memories or in the thousands of images which are stored in social networks. In a globalized world the ideas of originality and the “copy” in fashion have become relative. Who was the first to do it? It seems like an irrelevant question when the information is accessible to all thanks to the internet and what is created can be seen by experts as well as everyday people, almost simultaneously. Add to this the exponential effect social networks have on turning a fashion product into a universal object in a short period of time. In this context of not being “influenced” by what the other is designing is a task which requires a superhuman effort, in which the creator is faced with a scenario similar to that of the 3 wise monkeys of Buddhism: not seeing, not looking, nor talking so as to reach a higher state of creativity. At that point one´s surroundings are ignored (avoiding cultural baggage and personal histories). One must also not be naïve and think that all pieces of clothing similar to others or with very similar aspects are a coincidence of destiny. Industrial espionage in fashion is a recognized activity, where the war for clones is lead by Inditex group. The ability to live with this way of doing things or not has been gone over thousands of times. For now there are few who are willing to sue for copyright infringement. As a matter of fact, Christian Louboutin was among the brave ones who took Zara y Yves Saint Lauren
to court for what he called “the copying of his red soles”. At first, he lost (the French court even sentenced him to pay 2,000 pounds to the chain in compensation) and then he won a second suit (Federal court in USA made the decision in his favor). But what is the definitive effect of this result in the courts? It is still not clearly defined. We do not know yet. What is clear is that beyond these kinds of actions, in many countries fashion is not patented because of a lack of laws that protect it or because it would be too expensive (a collection may have up to 40 articles of clothing). Therefore, what is to be done about “copies”? Some brands have tried to raise the consciousness of consumers as to the value of original products vs. imitations. Nevertheless, in the world of designer fashion action of this kind may be bordering on the absurd and above all when production is on a smaller scale, considering the budgets of these smaller brands. And what would the solution be? I don´t think a magical formula exists given the reality of the world fashion scene. Nonetheless, this process would be aided by the formalization of fashion, its transformation into businesses and thereby the implementation of trademarks, besides good communication and positioning, which transmits to the consumer the value of the product and creates brand loyalty. I don´t know about you, but on many occasions when faced with the option of choosing between similar designer fashion products I choose the one with better quality over the one I find first. Closing the curtains or prohibiting the circulation of images of products is clearly not the solution to copies (following this line of thinking even to the appearances in the traditional media would be a threat). This type of defensive reaction only confirms the lack of a business plan and the ignorance to the format. Because even though “excessive visibility” can make us more vulnerable to copying, it also helps us to become better known and more sought after.
How to win over a first time fashion consumer? Challenges for designer fashion In the past the act of buying clothes had a less impulsive connotation; it implied a process of saving and considering the purchase. The motto was to “buy timeless quality”. Things have changed drastically. Today easy access to credit and “disposable” clothes has changed the intentions of many consumers. How can designer fashion win over this segment of society? When production costs were high and importing was cost prohibitive, a great number of consumers experienced the act of buying clothes as a ritual. The first step was identifying with an article of clothing that one needed (in this case the need was more real than imagined). Secondly, one had to check prices (among the limited local supply or imported, if there was any). Thirdly, consumers saved up enough for the purchase and fourthly they bought it. In step two one took advantage of window shopping, explored different alternatives and finally made a decision. Among the criteria which were used to make a decision quality was among the most important (here the factor of brand and tradition was implicit), its functionality (in as much that it served 77
multiple purposes) and its potential to be handed down (above all amongst housewives). These days that process has been upset (in general terms). In the first place the need is not identified; it is motivated by supply and endogenous factors (symbolic value of the brand, aspirations, impulse, etc). In the second place, the process of looking at prices almost does not exist. Buying is automatic now. Look, rummage and pay. If I don´t have cash, no problem, that´s why there are credit cards. For that reason many times we are remorseful once we get home and the question “why did I buy it?” becomes a mantra. What are the criteria for selecting something? Although the need may be present, in large part the purchase has more to do with the availability of what we are buying and with the “following the herd” syndrome (or unconditional love for trends), than value we ascribe to it. The curious thing is that despite the fact that “the overall act of purchasing” has not changed, there are some circumstances in which there is no opportunity for impulsive buying and the purchase is made in a thoughtout process or through “careful shopping”. In those instances, the fashion consumer not only chooses a brand, but saves enough or pays for the piece of clothing in many installments to have it. For them the clothing takes on a symbolic value (generally associated with status, belonging, success, or a story that moves them or they identify with), therefore the sacrifice is worthwhile. In this case the price, more than a prohibitive factor, becomes a criterion for narrowing down the options. That explains the consumption of high end products o prêt a porter premium by segments of the population where the household income is not very high. Now then, why doesn´t that consumer- impulsive at times and other times a careful shopper- purchase designer fashion? I believe an important factor is that many of the designer fashion brands that are on the market do not represent a symbolic value for them; I would not bet it is the only reason
though. They are “different kinds of clothing” but without any importance beyond the obvious. Do they offer a sense of belonging, valorization, status, a story, etc; apparently not. I assume that this is the result of a lack of conceptual work by some brands that give their products the title of designer fashion, just because they are made in an artisanal method on a small scale. Since the name does not have anything to do with those aspects, nor having a brand identity which distances-partially or totally- from the mass markets and trends. The challenge for designers is to create a unique identity, that reflects values and narratives that can be recognizable and desirable for the fashion consumer. That way consumers may see an alternative or complement for their “carefully selected purchases”. Then once they buy they feel that they have acquired a “treasure” that should be exhibited and shown off with pride amongst their social networks (both physical and virtual).
Is there a runway culture in Chile?
No, I am afraid not. On what do I base my answer? It is based on the long term observation of national runways and comparing them to “similar” events in the rest of South America. But, is it important to have a “runway culture”? If a fashion industry is to be built, of course it is. In pursuit of runway culture in Chile Let´s be clear, I am not the only one who has spoken about this topic, nor do I pretend that I am the first to invent the wheel. Nonetheless, I believe that now more than ever it is necessary to take another look. This is because the world of designer fashion in Chile is maturing and urgently needs showcases for displaying and commercializing its products. But why does this happen in Chile? Here runway events function like a TV show with a host, voice on/off, awards and colloquial conversations, with the focus centered on the socialite photo, more than coverage of the event itself. And business? Not a chance (at least not transparent and straight forward). In the end the real event is not for the designers, but for those who attend. With this format who benefits? I assume that very few, since the showcase does not make such a big impact beyond the confines of the event, and with luck only a few really know what went on. In fact, many find out afterwards, not from the runway photos, but through social networks, where a designer appears with a quick look at the collection and those who create the clothing are left in the lurch. 80
Ok. Let´s not generalize. I know that there have been efforts to get away from the cliché of “Made in Chile” and change the runway event, not into a social ritual, but into an arena for showcasing fashion. Even still, there remains much to be done. Let´s make a list of the most basic aspects of a true fashion week or fashion days that can help us mark the difference from that of a “variety show” format. 1- Attractive design proposals in terms of the fashion market: I believe there is more than enough of this; not only talent, but commercial ambition. Perhaps to bring both together and create a runway event with important and successful attractions, and apply a business model such as the one from Colombiamoda is an option (see case study). 2 – The right place: this implies an environment where there is more space for the runway, a special area for the fashion press (national and international in the best circumstances), big buyers and VIP assistants (who function as real ambassadors of the brand). 3 – Setting the stage without distractions: fashion parades do not require presentation. When going to a fashion week one knows what is on the program, therefore it is already known what will be shown. Presentation happens directly through the event, not by announcers and off stage voices. 4 – A place to do business: the object of putting on a fashion event is not for the socialites and the woman with the stylish hairdo to be able to say “How beautiful”, it is for national and international distributors, and talent hunters, to buy what is offered in the exhibition, distribute it and bring it to the target audience. At the same time, it is a place for promoting and positioning the brand. For that to happen specialized press must have preferential access and clarify the objectives. That is to say that it is understood what makes up a fashion industry circuit.
5 – A respectful audience: this aspect is not achieved over night. It must be developed. As in the former requirement, it is developed and the event is put on in the spirit of a “fashion system.” The public will understand that the runway is off limits, not for sitting on or standing, it is not a place to eat or drink, less so in the middle of the event. Once it begins no one else should enter; it is not a bingo and should not include “prizes”; unless of course, a designer brand wishes to leave a souvenir behind. These aspects are presented purely in a formal context because the reason for the event must be understood: it is the consummation of months of work by the designers and must be done in silence and with respect. Perhaps we could spend hours sorting out this mess. Nevertheless we must start somewhere to begin building a national fashion industry which should not be “just for the fun of it or because it creates photo ops for socialites”.
The business model behind the Colombiamoda runways The world of designer fashion in Colombia is assured of a place on the runways thanks to the Institute for Exports and Fashion (INEXMODA), the organizer of the event that has developed a business plan based on an alliance between a diversity of designers and brands from different areas. But how is the lineup of designer brands chosen? The criteria for choosing them has to do with “the willingness to evolve and break with tradition, together with an evaluation of quality, production capacity, commercial potential and the development of each candidate” explains Clara Henriquez Velasquez, director of Commercial Places at INEXMODA. Brands that are accompanied by designers get there in two ways: INEXMODA goes to them and they come to INEXMODA.
Photo Inexmoda Darío Cárdenas en Pasarela Infashion Blancox, Colombiamoda 2012 83
“This becomes a strong communication between the public, private and academic sectors that INEXMODA has developed from its vision Fashion System Colombia based on conceptual fashion and its relationship with the diversity of industries as a driving force for innovation and competitiveness. The brands we work with identify, believe in and invest in aspects of creativity and innovation,” Henriquez emphasizes. This strategic association comes to life in a variety of ways. At times it can expand and cover the cost of the collection and others including extensions like closing parties, cocktails, souvenirs, etc. This communication not only allows the sponsoring enterprise to identify with the concepts and stories behind the design proposal, but it also makes visible and gives a space to those that would not have access without this alliance, opening up the chain of value with attributes that reaffirm their own positioning strategies.
Photo Inexmoda Darío Cárdenas in Pasarela Infashion Blancox, Colombiamoda 2012 84
Camilo Ă lvarez for Fabricato by Silva / Moreno /14 87
Fashion dilemmas: between commercialization and experimentation Getting it just right is a complex process. This implies finding a balance between an attractive design proposal and a product that will be a commercial success (it cannot survive on love and air). For this reason, many brands in search of their “creative voice” or the concepts they wish to communicate, may go to extremes: very commercial or very experimental. This aspect is even more evident in fashion shows. Commercialization versus Experimentation? Not all brands are successful on the runway. This does not mean that they do not have aesthetic value, but that their creative product is appreciated better in a look book, in a magazine or in a showroom. This is why an evaluation must be made to find out what is the best way of displaying the product. This is true above all when there are two brands in the same event that have a similar line of clothing, which will inevitably inspire competitive comparisons and distract onlookers with details that do not add up to a whole. A “top ten differences” contest will begin which ruins months of work. The exception to this rule happens when from collection to collection a style is created; a tale evolves that creates brand coherence and identification between those who wish to communicate. At times an option may be to show a design proposal that works well commercially, and has some high points, without generating great impact
on the design. Nevertheless, this point is not a problem if the brand accepts that as the correct path (sometimes success is found there) or an evaluation is made which shows that the runway is the most effective way to become known, since in those events the demands of a fashion show involve greater challenges. This is the case above all when the bar has been set high. The other extreme lies in the experimental. Even though I like it many times when designers take risks on the runway by surprising or causing an impact, they also run the risk of losing perspective and using whatever resources available just to make something different. This tends to mix elements and ends up producing inconsistencies. There are design proposals where this need to create a narrative is distinct; the world of runaways can be full of characters taken from a video game or futuristic comic books. Nevertheless, the creation may be able to transcend the limits of the design proposal and transform it into performance art, closer to an â€œinstallationâ€? than a collection. For the same reason one hopes to see how the profile of such an event will come down to a more functional level. The important thing is that a variety of designer fashion brands in Latin America have this clear and are a step ahead. My hope is that all find their direction. I am sure that more than talent and desire are required to triumph.
MartĂnJ by Igor Valdebenito and Cristian GonzĂĄlez /15 91
Runway Events: Theatricality or Simplicity?
How to show a collection on the runway is a dilemma that may put designers in a bind. Theatricality or simplicity? Both options are valid when it comes time for presenting a new piece of design. Nonetheless, the deciding factor has to do with remembering which makes the biggest impact: the stage setting or the collection? Fashion shows were created to show off a season´s work by designers for fashion buyers, press, and the general public. They began in the middle of the 19th century with Charles Fredric Worth and have been around ever since. They have evolved in format and concept since then. Examples of fashion shows that have made a mark on history and which stand out are the runway events put on by Alexander McQueen, John Galliano for Dior, Marc Jacobs for Louis Vuitton and Karl Lagerfeld for Chanel. Still, can we describe the articles of clothing that were shown at these events? For the majority of the examples, yes we can, at least the icons. That is because they were able to coordinate the creative concept for their collection with the staging of the collection. There was no competition; instead a story was told that served as a context to reveal the real protagonist: the apparel. In some fashion events we can see how different brands may come across as aloof from this “battle”, many times it may happen unconsciously, between the fashion presentation and the collection. While in other cases, we watch the “circus” and the clothing must be simplified, be it for the
strategic decision made by the brilliant association of sponsor â€“ brand or for the choice of theatricality above simplicity. This decision may be the right one if a short term impact is sought. Even still, it is full of risks if at the end of the day there is no image of the collection which remains in the minds of the spectators. The sensation of having had a good time is not enough when the objective is to sell a product. The line between and indifference at runway events is very thin. Crossing it can mean that months of work are transformed into a simple commentary and that the essence of the creative concept is lost in the labyrinths of the stage. In this case, the apple is more tempting than we acknowledge.
Clothing Doceñada 12NA: Kusiclos and the Condor Mechi Martínez y Mariano Breccia are Argentineans living in Chile who created their brand in 2004 “out of the necessity for the expression of and love for vintage clothing”. Over time that passion has turned into a driving force of creativity that perfectly combines theatricality with simplicity in their runway events. The presentation of their collection “Kusiclos and the Condor” was living proof of this. Their debut in society happened at the runaway event Raiz Diseño 2011 and traveled far making it to BAF Week Autumn/Winter 2012. Its manifest explains the history behind their conceptual gamble brought to life on the runway: “In the summer of 2012, the Kusicios where born, characters generating change and conscience, half Kusillos, half cyclists who laid out a fundamental principle ´The use of the body as a legitimate means of transport: self propulsion´, and for 12-A that is the use of resources close at hand. This choice means an extra effort in the long run. More consequent and amplifying. In ´Kusiclos and the sacred encounter with the condor´, the Kusiclos found another limit: The Andes mountain range. Upon not being able to cross the Andes by their own means they invoke the sun that arrives in the form of a condor and gives strength to be able to find a way to cross this geographical and ideological barrier”.
Photo: BAFWeek 94
Learning to communicate through fashion: good business practices Change of season: dozens of new design proposals emerge. We look at them, comment on them and socialize. Nevertheless, in this process that can last weeks (or months) not everything is milk and honey. There are occasions on which we shrug our shoulders at a collection that we don´t like. This gesture comes before criticism and disappointment. However, what makes us do that? Just subjectivity? Many times the problem is that there was a lack of communication. It is not what is said but how it is said Once a friend who is a designer told me: “If no one liked your collection you don´t have to go on the defensive, instead you should ask yourself what went wrong. It was not understood? The inspiration was not clear? Did I get lost in the execution?”. These types of questions invoke a process of introspection many are not willing to go through, because it may be painful or mean having to rethink the way that they are doing things. A communication theorist, Paul Watzlavik, said in one of his axioms that “it is not what is said, but how it is said”. In a world of hyper communication such as ours this phrase could not make more sense. This is true above all when we speak of how a brand is presented, when fashion is directly translated into the development of collections. Yet, why don´t we communicate well? Many times it is because we think that the public is so in touch with our codes that they read us; or simply because 96
our narrative seems so evident to us, that we take the interpretation for granted. Nonetheless, a detail or an “intentional imperfection” can confuse those who observe and they may misinterpret our message. Solutions? I think that the most important way to communicate well- or improve the presentation of the brand is by defining the concept´s matrix and taking them through all the activities on the chain of value. This has to do with having them as a foundation in all of my collections, no matter the difference in context and season. If young people identify with my brand, the urban and ecological, it is not important in winter to talk about the ice age and in spring about Botticelli, I must always impart in my work – and all that surrounds the basic concepts, that will provide a matrix wherein consumers will be situated and able to orient their interpretations. The majority of us enjoy brands that are consistent with a spirit, that are faithful to an ideal (a strategy, in business language). A good example to follow is the brand Chanel. Despite the many years, trends and world events, even a layperson is able to identify a “Chanel”. How is that? Thanks to decades of work giving the brand a unique look and creating a style (almost on the level of becoming an adjective). This is achieved when the conceptual and technical execution has been worked out conscientiously in a coherent and consistent manner, and nothing is left to the whims of neither the consumer nor the critic. Because good intentions are good for today, but do not bear fruit for tomorrow. To give sustainability to our brands we must know what and above all, how to communicate. Improvisation in fashion makes for bad business.
Fashion criticism: a questionable business
The controversy between Cathy Horyn, fashion critic for New York Times and Hedi Slimane, the new creative director for Saint Laurent, besides other principal situations protagonized by similar people in different contexts, caused me to reflect on the complex relationship between the designers and the fashion critics. Does the world of fashion in Latin America face a similar dilemma? First round: One corner critics, the other corner designers Cathy Horyn´s history, and her problems with designers is long and full of problems. Nevertheless, in September of 2012 she reached a new level of popularity for her criticism of Oscar de la Renta in NYFW (New York Fashion Week) and the exchange of “messages” through her columns and social networks with Hedi Slimane. This criticism was stronger and occurred just as she was starting out with Saint Laurent. Although I do not share the same views as Horyn at all, when she referred to designers in an unflattering way (she called Oscar de la Renta a hotdog) it seems curious to me – and worrisome- that a precedent is set when someone is barred from entering or “banned” from fashion events because the person is considered to be very critical or sharp in their commentaries. For example, it seemed the correct thing to do when Oscar de la Renta came out and published a letter of complaint in which he did not complain about the criticism of his work (in fact he said that he believes in constructive 99
Self Injury Collection by Paulo MĂŠndez / Photo: Jon Jacobsen 100
criticism because his objective has always been to improve his work to benefit his customers more) but he complained about the way in which she referred to him. On the other hand, I do not share the idea of the “veto” associated with “you said something that I don´t like”. Criticism, though it may possess an “objective” technique supporting it, always has some element of subjectivity behind it. For that reason, it must be considered as a point of view, a look at the rest of the world or an opportunity to grow, improve or take a leap forward. All of this is understood as being done with the desire to offer the designers an opinion or give them a new perspective. This view may or may not be shared by the public they address. Not as a personal attack or an attempt to take away from their work. More than saying to others that nothing was understood, I think that criticism – without personal attacks- is a chance to ask questions, not go on the defensive.
Round 2: Public relations teams versus fashion blogs and websites I have developed many different theories with respect to how the public relations teams for some brands don´t know how to interact with fashion blogs. The problem, it would seem, is not just in Latin America, but around the world. The example, again Saint Laurent and the website Business of Fashion,3 demonstrates this. Does a designer brand have the right to ask a website to change their evaluations because they don´t like what was written about them? Is the change valid when the impetus for it came from the same brand?
Amed, Imrad; BOF; “A Wake-Up Call for YSL’s PR Team”, October 2nd, 2012 En: http://www.businessoffashion.com/2012/10/a-wake-up-call-for-ysls-pr-team.html
Fashion brands should understand that in a world where social networks have become forums for public debate and discussions, it is impossible to control these interactions. In the same way, a clear and strategic communication is necessary. It is important to understand that the bloggers – and consumersare not brand publicists, since if we were, without making it public, we would lose some of our sway with the public. In this case, just as the previous one, the public relations teams should build a constructive and collaborative relationship with fashion bloggers, based on mutual growth, not on the threat of “Goliath”. Round 3: Criticism versus ego As designers gain a name in the market, their confidence increases- in relative terms- and their ego also grows. The problem is that many of these creative people transform the ego – the pride or insecurity, up to now I am not sure- into the defense that whatever “threat” that may destabilize their apparent “harmony” is invalid. For them criticisms of any kind, even the most subtle are always badly received. The motto is “without praise, do not write about me”. Under this kind of logic reporting or attending a runway event or collection debut is transformed into an scene for showing consent and loyalty- misunderstoodabove all, as if the professional relationship between them should be a cross between a blank check and smile of approval. “If you don´t like it and it is not 100% what you expected, don´t say anything”, becomes the key to surviving. Round 4: Criticism and the rating In the world of fashion it would seem that criticism doesn´t pay. Nonetheless, my experience has taught me that at the end of the day –the reader, those who watch, the designers and even the experts who prefer to describe and reflect- shout for blood like they were at a Roman gladiator event where you must die publicly if you do not win. I do not share this belief; I believe
that criticism when exploited to improve the rating is a sinister exercise that does not help anyone. I do believe that reflection is important, in addition to describing what is going on, trying to understand, analyzing a concept from a complex and all enrich our perspective. This is gained with time and experience, not only by reading books and studying at the university (though these aspects help with the learning process). I honestly believe that there is a large percentage of people in the fashion industry- at all levels- that prefer not to hear, read, nor look at what is outside of the realm of what qualifies for them as â€œtolerableâ€?.
Mood Store, New York by Alejandro Turis 104
Fashion tales and business 105
Starting a fashion business in Chile and Argentina: Difficult or easy enterprise?4 In the 21st century the seed has been planted for the reality of doing business in Latin America. The political, economic and social circumstances have required citizens to reinvent themselves and look for new opportunities. The fashion world has become a participant of this process, taking advantage of the contingency to unleash its creativity and develop its own projects that are outside the established norms and challenge the crisis with ingenuity, boldness and originality. Nevertheless, that which comes about from the fury of survival is not always tied with strings that permit it to be sustainable over time. The lack of knowledge about the media and business administration, the inexperience and the lack of structure which support and encourage business have caused many designer fashion brands to view doing business as a complex and difficult enterprise. Aware of this reality, I asked 57 different designer fashion brands from Latin America- in a period of one year (from may 2011 to may 2012) how difficult was it to do business in fashion in their countries, what were the principal problems they faced and what they did to improve the situation. Though the majority considered the task of developing an independent fashion business complicated, none seemed to regret having chosen to do so, which implies a real interest in creating a fashion industry in Latin America, beyond the uncertainties and complexities within each country.
This text is an extract of a larger paper available at: http://bit.ly/Tjl7qN
General conclusions about the reality of doing business in fashion in Chile and Argentina The designers’ perceptions and the contrast between the Chilean and Argentinean reality demonstrate that doing business in fashion is not an easy task. In both countries socio-economical factors exist that influence the development of a brand. In Chile, the biggest problem is associated with the reigning economic model, which made possible the opening of the markets and therefore the large scale arrival of products-cloth, clothing, shoes and jewelry from Asia at a low cost. The Chilean consumer has become accustomed to buying cheaply instead of considering the quality of a product, which has created a strong barrier inhibiting those who try to break the existing consumer habit for one in which the price is representative of the quality associated with handmade design. It seems evident that the country will not change its progressive option. Yet, this context requires, in the first place, a public acknowledgement on the part of the government- through the Ministry of Culture and Artistic Design area- that fashion is an economic sector which adds to the GDP and the country´s image. This step would help establish a base in government for national fashion which up to now has not existed. Together with this acknowledgement it is important to open a dialogue with the Department of Economy which encourages investment and a policy for the development of productivity in the sector. The second step should be focused on the creation of a public-private alliance aimed at developing a public policy that promotes designer fashion, in which education of the consumer is a fundamental aspect. Argentina has developed this model, through the design circuits of “X la Calle”. Chile could follow the same path, accompanied by the certification documents and the designer projects, that are derived by the creation of a national fashion trademark similar to that which already exists for other products which bear the seal of authenticity (Proof of origin). All this will promote the positioning of brands within the internal market, as well as throughout the international sphere.
Along the same lines, the government must create incentives so that the precarious national textile industry considers the field of designer fashion as a profitable and competitive market for their products. In the same way, there needs to be an organization for creating dialogue and a platform for national suppliers of raw materials. In the case of Argentina, a reverse effect process took place. The protectionist policy around the national textile industry put up barriers and limited imports, many of them materials necessary for making designer fashion. The quality of the national market for textiles, according to designers, hinders their quality standards and turns the process of putting together a design project into one where improvisation is the principal concern. In the same way, it is important for the textile industry to be open to and listen to the needs of designers and produce materials that serve them, while understanding that production volume will differ, but that the end result will create a “beneficial cycle”, where they are both favored. It must be made clear that the internal panorama has not hindered the creation of new designer brands. In fact, the highly competitive nature of the area stands out, which challenges designers to develop high quality products with a clear and recognizable brand identity. This speaks to a mature market that requires action to prevent stagnation and further growth, such as access to larger points of sale on a national or even international level. On the other hand, even though no one can predict a change in the economic model, it is clear that the country cannot be closed to imports forever. In this case it could be interesting for Argentina to take a look at Chile´s open market development, in such a way as to avoid adverse circumstances, without ignoring the reality of economic globalization. That becomes fundamental in the context where the very same industry is looking to take its products to the rest of the world and establish an international position with projects such as the “Strategic Plan for the clothing industry” or the “Argentina exports fashion and design” program.
With respect to the profile of the fashion business, on both sides of the Andes (Argentina and Chile) it is clear that the people involved in this area possess not only good ideas, but also are very bold, persistent, patient, tolerant and resilient to frustration. The objective is not only to gain a place in the market for the brand or project , but also to last over time. But, who achieves sustainability? All of those who possess the characteristics mentioned above, in addition to a wide range of knowledge about administration that can be attained during or before the creation of the â€œfashion companyâ€?. Nevertheless, the majority of designers say that they acquired this knowledge through trial and error and not by learning it in an academic setting. This reality is cause for reviewing the curriculum used in universities and institutes for developing fashion or design programs for clothing so that business administration courses be included that will give them skills they will need to be successful after they finish their studies. At the same time, this pushes organizations that support business and fashion to have, from time to time, professional development courses and consultations which take care of these areas of weakness. Along the same lines, it is important to create a listing of providers of designer fashion that are accredited, both in Chile and Argentina, that promote access for the designers to raw materials, production workshops and distribution channels. These efforts should be made in collaboration with unions and syndicates and with information provided by the Tax Board, if the opportunity presents itself. At the same time, in both markets there is an ignorance of the tools which could facilitate and support the work of the business person. Even though some know these tools exist, they do not know how to use them or give up using them because of the bureaucratic red tape they involve. In fact, the temptation to work in less formal ways is high when the bureaucratic process, full of paperwork, becomes incomprehensible and overwhelming. Nonetheless, it is clear that without them it is impossible to apply for subsidies or aid: for this reason the situation must be cleared up.
In much the same way, it is imperative that a unifying platform for information be created that provides designers all the tools from the government and unions that will help facilitate doing business in the fashion industry. Though Argentina is on this path, in Chile specific resources for the creation and promotion of designer fashion donÂ´t even exist. In fact, the majority of alternatives available feature an emphasis on the support for global business, without a specific area in mind. Together with the last point, it is fundamental that designers themselves work together to create networks for exchanging experience and information through organizations or work groups with those who can access resources, both public and private support, (professional development, sponsorships, grants, and technological tours etc). In Chile the Independent Design Collective in Valdivia and the recently formed Fashion Workers Union of Chile made a precedent in this area. In Argentina the only example of this kind of effort being made is the Cuadrilla project, made up of the brands Desastreria, Urenko, Decrisci, LadrĂłn de Guevara and Fernando More. The Argentinean Fashion Association just recently at the end of 2012 created a fan page in Facebook where it explains its mission, but doesnÂ´t list clearly its members. The speed at which the international fashion industry operates requires Latin America to build solid foundations with those who maintain their local industry. Without them a competitive edge is lost and the road to decline is a sure thing. Threads have been cast throughout Argentina and Chile and now it is the responsibility of the many players in this scene to weave them together into a single piece of cloth.
The repatriation of fashion: a homecoming
Much has been said about the phenomenon of the delocalization of fashionor production that happens outside of the country of origin- yet little has been said about repatriation, the return of many brands to their former national workshops. What is the reason for this phenomenon? Reasons for delocalization and repatriation The delocalization of production in the world of fashion came about as the next step in the process of globalization. The rule was that the production was to be taken out of the country of origin and done wherever it was least expensive, in such a way as to lower costs and therefore the price of clothing. This trend sparked the exodus of many brands to Asia, particularly China, Vietnam, Bangladesh and Indonesia.. Nonetheless, the economic crisis that is still in effect- more intensely so in Europe and the United States of America- has caused much of overseas production to return home. Why? The most obvious reason is because all the added costs of overseas production are making it less profitable than before, such factors as evolution of the industry and changes in consumer behavior must be added and in the end do not justify many of these operations. Letâ€™s take a look at the situation calmly. Why relocate production nationally? According to experts there are more than enough reasons, above all in the case of small and medium size businesses in the fashion sector, that work with smaller profit margins. LetÂ´s take a look at the most common: 112
1- “Hidden” costs: when we talk about foreign production, the first thing that comes to mind is the lower cost of labor. Even still, this does not take into account the cost of moving administrative people overseas, creating a quality control team at the production site, training the workers (so they can maintain quality standards) and the implementation of technology at the production site. 2- Close control of production: as a part of quality control, many fashion brands, above all luxury ones, are bringing production back home so they can follow the production chain step by step and thus prevent “leaks” that give rise to fakes. 3- Social change in the countries of production: as countries to which production was moved improve their living conditions, labor costs rise and therefore profit margins for the brands are reduced. This brings about a questioning of the process and a return home of many production lines (or even the entire process). 4- Shorter Seasons, smaller volume production: in the past the fashion industry revolved around two seasons. These days, the majority of the bigger brands work with at least two large collections and two preseason collections. This involves requests of smaller volume and restocking, a process which becomes cheaper when manufacturing takes place in-country (I recommend taking a look at the example of Zara, that has successfully implemented repatriation and delocalization in its chain of production). 5- Changes in consumer trends: the renewed value placed on national products, together with the trends of slow fashion and ethical fashion have caused many brands to question the use of foreign production and have begun to create product lines manufactured nationally, where the creative as well as marketing concept is the valuing of local production. Along the same lines, the making of videos for many luxury products such as Louis Vuitton shoes or Miss Dior bags have to do with this.
But, how does repatriation become permanent, or at least part of the process. Why designer brands want to come back home has to do with some incentives that make investment more profitable in-country than outside the country. Among them are the financial benefits for hiring labor in-country (this is associated with training and some government incentives and subsidies) funds for innovation through technology and machinery. Designer fashion is an area that is pushing for the repatriation of the production processes, because as brands return or the market feels the need to strengthen the national textile industry, the specialized artisans, conditions and competition will improve for those who want to be hanging in the closets of consumers in Latin America.
The example of the designer shoe in Chile The opening up of commerce in Chile during the decade of the 1990´s and the importation of tax free products from Asian markets, principally Chinese, spelled disaster for the national footwear industry. During this time many national brands went bankrupt and the artisans had to reinvent themselves in other industries. Nevertheless, upon finishing the first decade of the 21st century this area began to change quickly. A budding designer fashion market combined with consumers interested in original design projects in limited edition, brought about a rebirth of the Chilean footwear industry. Different brands began to use the strategy of “Made in Chile” to position themselves and associated with it attributes such as design, quality, small stock and durability. A national shoe was born to show off and pass down. Some brands that assured themselves of a place in the national market during this transition were: Gaytan, Barbara Birones, Aurora Conejero, Zapatería Maestra, La Horma, Macarena Errázuriz, D-Pie, and Sagrado MadeinChile, among others.
Zapatería Maestra, Despiece modelo 1901 by Nacho Rojas 115
Gaytan by Pilar Castro /16 119
The role of artisans in designer fashion: can we understand their importance? Designer fashion is labor intensive. This means that many people are involved in its production. Though the designer is one of the protagonists of this supply chain, in a secondary role, but in a no less important role are the artisans who carry out a decisive step in the chain. The role of the master craftsperson in designer fashion A while ago I read a report about the Spanish designer Morante, in which he said: “I think that artisan crafts should be made available to fashion design so that it can survive. There are trades that we should protect, but are becoming lost arts such as embroiderers”. What is he referring to? Simply put, that qualified workers –sewing, embroidering, master shoe craftspeople, etc are fundamental factors in fashion design, nonetheless they are harder to come by. Without their help, the competitive advantages are lost and relegated to the common place. Their qualified labor may mean the difference between one brand and the other, since they make the designer´s sketch come to life. For them it is important to know how to make things beyond the most basic schemes and that they are determined to be experts. Let´s put things into perspective. To make a Chanel jacket there are a dozen different steps in the process that only expert hands are able to do. The same is involved with the manufacturing of a Ferragamo shoe (in which there are a total of 80 steps, all done by hand). The designer fashion panorama in Latin America is not that different (at least not when it comes to the most developed brands). 120
In Chile and Latin America in general, it is difficult to find qualified labor for the fashion industry. That is because the opening up of its markets (the example of Chile is classical) hurt the industry in such a way that it made master craftspeople a thing of the past and they had to look for work in other areas. This was true up to the point when designer fashion began to need them again. This reality makes it necessary for the government and private sectors to develop plans for training them and creating a supply of qualified craftspeople. Where could this be done? Neighborhood meeting places or co-ops could be a good place to try something like this. The most important thing to understand is that a war is not won using only generals. To be successful a variety of integrants need to be involved at the beginning and end of the production process, more than just great designers are necessary to create a brand. This fact makes it imperative to reevaluate the importance of the craftspeople, not only philosophically, but also in terms of economics and labor conditions. It is the only way to create a positive cycle and supply chains with positive results not only for designers, but for all involved in the process.
Designer and retail fashion: Complementary? Completely Does designer fashion compete with mainstream fashion and particularly retail? Without a doubt the answer is no. But why? The answer has to do with designer fashion´s essence. It uses a model of production and business in which exclusivity, conceptual identity and extensive use of labor are primordial. While in retail the key is high volume, trends and automated production line manufacturing. Therefore, why the worries. Let´s take a look. Retail as a complement to designer fashion When we consider the differences that exist between the creative process and business models of designer fashion and retail, we can breathe easier. To think that a small brand could compete with one of the larger ones is a sin of naivety and pride. Clearly both can share certain client bases, but at heart they must appeal to the needs and experiences of the consumer. The consumer that is going to buy designer fashion is interested in design proposals with identity that involve them in a history and tell them a story; whereas the consumer of retail clothing is looking to fulfill a particular need and to satisfy a desire to be “in style” or in sync with current trends. Although these two kinds of consumer may switch roles or cross paths, they are not in competition. Each represents a segment or niche, with its own share of the market assured. Now then, why does designer fashion “fear” retail so much? Because it is thought to be responsible for the loss of customers, lower sales or the threat of constant liquidations, that make it difficult to compete with average prices. However, the problem is not in retail, but is actually found in the lack of communicating an identity that transcends standard brands and market 122
savvy, which would permit them to understand their customers and the world of fashion. This characteristic is exacerbated when there is also a lack of business planning and progress is made erratically. Then, why not put away prejudices and work towards a complementary relationship? I am convinced that it is possible. Projects such as “Fashion Hunters” (Cazadores de Moda) in Falabella Department Store and “Monjitas Alamoda” in Paris Department Store are good examples of how the alliance between the big guys and the little guys is possible, as long as they understand each other and what their position and plans are in the marketplace. If a designer brand makes its objective to beat a retail brand that means they don´t understand the situation, and they are losing time in a battle where there is no way David will slay Goliath. And careful, because here I do not refer to a concept for selling more of a brand as “prostitution”, but the exact opposite: understanding who I am, what is the reason why I identify with the designer brand and not retail, and who are my clients (beyond their demographics). This kind of reflecting will provide the necessary insights for understanding that the relationship between both parties can be a win-win situation in as much as it may create a positive cycle where retail provides a jumping off point for young talent (with all the commercial and marketing support they possess) and designer fashion can bring some of its fresh originality to the big brands. Besides the examples mentioned above there is a long list of collaborations between big name designers or mainstream brands where H&M stands out as a leader. So that the consumer makes it to the designer´s store, they have to live an experience with this design proposal. This kind of mutually beneficial relationship makes collaborations of this nature easier. The main thing is that they have their objectives clear and put aside prejudices. Stores in the mall or department stores can be a platform, the important thing is learning how to “use them”, without losing one´s identity.
The connection between designer and mainstream fashion: a mutually beneficial relationship The partnering of designer fashion with mainstream brands is one of the more mutually beneficial collaborations and is a form of “intelligent partnering”. Why? Because besides developing and strengthening the local fashion industry it creates identity and affects the country. But what happens in Latin America in this sense? The example of Latin America I have no idea why, but in Latin America, particularly in the neighboring countries of Argentina and Peru this type of partnership has been functioning with excellent results for many years. Mainstream brands, be they in department stores, supermarkets or even those linked to foods, not only have requested fashion designers to create brand collections to give their products a special touch, but also have generated creative collaborations in the effort to “democratize fashion”. The curious thing is that many mainstream brands that have taken this gamble are Chilean, and as recently as 2013 they have begun to be “prophets in their own land” or success stories where they were born, with initiatives such as capsule collections by Karyn Cool (clothing) and Barbara Briones (shoes) for Alaniz, and the Chilean design contest at Falabela, where Sebastian de Real, Sisa and La Joya were the winners. Foster brand is a special case. Though it has not carried out direct actions within the designer fashion scene, it has promoted collaborations with well known Chileans and created Foster Market, a project that came out of the 124
idea of strengthening the work of different national artists and making them responsible for sales in one of their stores. The advantages of these alliances For me the advantages of these types of alliances are many. Here I give you a list of the most obvious: - Visibility of the brand through a more ample design proposal related to the concept of modernity, creativity and the vanguard. Some of these values and narratives of designer fashion rub off on the mainstream brand and it is fed by this spirit of innovation, which is so difficult to attain in an area of such uniform proposals. - Possibility for the designer to focus solely on creating. This happens when mainstream brands pay the designer to develop a collection, which makes it possible to have the season´s proposal “already sold”, without having to sell it on a small scale, and this creates more time and space to invent and imagine. - Designer fashion begins to be seen as a more inclusive and less exclusive product, which motivates more people to buy it, freeing them from their prejudices and helping to develop a consumer habit that is not only linked to price, but also to the aesthetic of the product. -Included in the socio-economic advantages are the initiatives made by the formation of an industry and (fashion system), since it makes the creation of a strong production chain necessary. The designers strengthen their work teams, put together workshops and organize themselves, separating the administrative roles from those of the sales and the manufacturing. -Furthermore, these alliances cause us to rethink the national identity, allowing new products to be created; and even though they are distributed wholesale, they are turned into limited editions that respond to the identity of the “local” consumer with a global vision.
The example of Sebastian del Real Ossa for Falabella In the fourth installment of the Small Business Fair (Feria Pyme) “Chile designs by Falabella” held April 2, 2013, many different brands participated from the Chilean Fashion Association. Some of them presented their design proposals in a showroom with the purpose of doing business with suppliers from Falabella. Others took part in daily runway events, in which three designers were chosen who would create a spring/ summer capsule collection for this retail giant. Among the winners were Sebastian del Real Ossa with his collection E.E.ETrece. He expressed his satisfaction for the opportunity and the different points of view that such an event provides. “I am motivated by being able to reach a wider audience. It is a great challenge, both personally and professionally. The relationship between designer and retail can be very interesting”, he concluded.
Photo: Alejandro Galvez 126
Makinita de Coser by Fractura Foto /17 128
My fashion tale 129
The search for a political message in fashion
Fashion has never been innocent. From its beginnings it has transmitted ideas, slogans, models of society and involved individuals that respond to historical and social contexts. Fashion, even the least sophisticated and “neutral” kind, has a hidden political discourse that speaks to us of identities, collective ideas and national projects. Today it would seem that the political discourse has been diluted, never the less it stands out more than ever. Do you hear it? Rummaging through the past Totalitarian governments eliminated people´s individual identities by putting them in uniforms; creating clothing with simple lines and muted colors (black, grey, navy blue, moss green) that neutralized the conscience and inhibited action. On the other hand, in dictatorships, fashion was used as a means to impose – in a subtle or direct way – “models of people” according to the values of the leader, as a distraction from reality and in some cases, as a tool for detaining those who were suspicious or “harmful” to the social order (many democracies participate in these stereotypes, though less arbitrarily). The political discourse of fashion in the twenty first century In the twenty first century fashion continues communicating discourses that speak of ideals, collective world projects and individual identities (not necessarily political ideologies). Let´s review: 130
Sustainable fashion Its message is heard more and more clearly: the world is falling apart because of our negligence and if we want to save it we must do something. Because of this new awareness industrial techniques that reduce the impact on the environment are being developed and even community action organizations are forming for educating, protecting and creating positive cycles in which fashion plays a role. This discourse is believable and valued by the consumer in as much as the image the brand projects is supported by its actions. Following the current fashion does not work, because if there is no substance to the talk and the consumer doubts the message, the collateral damage of being exposed is great. Fashion linked to social groups Each social group has a belief system that it manifests through its clothing. A classic example which is still relevant in this century is punk and the person who best expresses its ethic is the Englishwoman Vivienne Westwood. In fact, the music exists as an echo in the social movements it has traced in diverse styles; its image has been plastered firmly in the countless “posters”. Even though in this case, through political discourse one can “prostitute” oneself easily due to the copying of an aesthetic without understanding its message, this same imitation evokes the closeness of an idea, to a world view. Therefore it is dangerous to take away from its value a priori. The political message as an element in business strategy We live in a century in which people have a lot to say which politicians are willing to listen to. They make it known through social networks and the creation of informal movements against or in favor of initiatives, projects, laws, etc. This scenario manages to give even more relevance to the political message in fashion and sets out opportunities for distinguishing oneself through it.
I do not wish to be misunderstood here; I am not talking about being hypocritical nor subscribing to slogans that do not interpret a brand, but exactly the opposite. It is fundamental for brands to understand that today the consumer (or at least one of its typologies) values the “militancy of ideas” the commitment to causes and ways of living. It does not have to do with saying “I also love the planet, buy me”(making it absurd) but to patent in our business strategy the values we ascribe to as a brand, the things that move us beyond the evident, the projects, ideas and stories that identify and commit us. Being transparent and communicating, not as a marketing or sales strategy, but as an element that sets us apart from the competition, as a real and concrete form of contributing to society: Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) beyond image. I believe that those who take this path are the ones who will make the difference. Here I speak of a sustainable path that invokes other values, not always visible. Fashion´s political message should be embedded in the business logic of brands, it should be founded in the actions as a common theme for the communication field. The most important thing is to be honest and never be tempted by a big show without substance.
ArtĂculo 6: narratives of gender, strength and politics by Lucia Cuba / Photo: Erasmo Wong / 18 133
ArtĂculo 6: narratives of gender, strength and politics by Lucia Cuba / Photo: Erasmo Wong /18 134
CSR in designer fashion: a must for small and large businesses Designer fashion is not exempt from making a commitment to its surroundings. A group makes it through the slow fashion movement or sustainable fashion, but do the others make a difference through CSR? Nowadays those who hang a sign that says “exempt” on the door of their workshop may be scrutinized by consumers and lose ground to the competition. But, why? Here we will think about it. CSR: a style, not fashion In the twenty first century Corporate Social Responsibility is not just for the big fashion companies, but for all those who wish to be part of it. Designer fashion is a part of this big machine that must understand that its commitment to society and its surroundings not only should be from those with a “sustainable” fashion label, but from all brands. With respect to that I am not referring to creating “big social movementscampaigns” but to incorporate within the designer brand´s business strategy, an item about social responsibility that goes beyond words (“we respect the planet, we believe in world peace etc.”) and that includes fair treatment for all those involved in the production chain and even some kind of policy to decrease the carbon print or promote community outreach. Being socially responsible is not just a fashion, but a style of doing business, seeing the world and understanding that clothing is not just a bunch of
pieces of cloth, but a way of forming an identity, community and social value, that starts with a business strategy and comes together in each collection. We have to believe in ourselves and not wait till the consumer hands us the bill.
The example of Chilote House Shoes
Chilote House Shoes is a brand of shoes created by Stiven Kerestegia y Francisca Apparcel in Chile. It was born out of the desire to put to use local materials and artisans from the South of Chile, through the
recovering local traditions for an international showcasing, giving work to out of the way rural communities and making Chile an exporter of high quality fashion. “We work with craftswomen whose life´s work had been weaving. They live, for the most part, in out of the way rural areas and are housewives. The first thing we create is the design, we have workshops in their area, we provide materials and the technical specifications. Later, they arrange things on their own, naturally they choose a “leader” to whom we send the materials and she takes care of redistributing them and later coordinating everything in the first quality control. The important thing is that they organize themselves, arranging all their daily tasks, 137
household, family and in some cases work. They do the work in their own homes, without having to change their life style. Afterwards, we regroup again and in our workshop located in Puerto Varas we do another quality control check, clean up (for example removing impurities in the wool) packaging and delivery.
Photo: Alejandra Valenzuela 138
VOZ by Uday Kak /19 141
The tyranny of collections: open up the changing room, I want out of here! Don´t get me wrong, I love looking at new collections. In fact, at times I feel like a girl staring at sweets in a candy shop, with that almost irresistible desire to take a bite. Nevertheless, the seasonal division of the fashion industry into not two, but up to 4 or 6 collections (the pre, cruise and season in itself) is vexing me. Has this happened to you? Drunk on my own chocolate or too much of a good thing A few weeks ago I was talking about this “drunkenness” with a group of blog friends, who told me that this fast pace of seasons is the only solution for the fashion industry wheel to keep spinning, there is consumption and therefore production. Nonetheless, although I understand the financial explanation, my level of discomfort has not gone away because of that. On the contrary, each day the question is more pressing: Is this fast pace really necessary? Perhaps from the point of view of businesses the paradigm of mass market sales is necessary, since it is done under the premise of products with a short “shelf life”. However, from the designer fashion perspective it seems that going full speed ahead all the time can be excessive. Obviously my views are not shared by the big fashion houses that must survive in the market place, but the smaller businesses have the option of going slower. Let´s be clear: small businesses also have to pay their bills at the end of the month; even still I am convinced that they can adopt a business model for slower development of new products. I am not only talking about the idea of 142
“re-use” (or whichever verb you want) but assuming a position dedicated to slow growth, “anti-system” in the best sense of the word (not buying is not subscribing to it) and where climate is that which naturally determines the seasons. That´s to say, that there be two seasons, consistent conceptually and materially. Many will say, “But that is already being done”. Yes, somewhat, but I believe that when one sets out to do things this way and incorporates it as a key part of the creative process it opens new doors and puts things in order. Dividing the year in two and working towards this goal, in such a way as to release the spring/summer collection before the spring and summer; and the autumn/ winter weeks before autumn and winter. Doing it on time, not late, as they do in the department stores when they go ahead and bring out the “preview”. In the same way, the consumers of designer fashion are being conditioned to a reality in which the world can revolve at the pace of a cruise ship; they can enjoy each one of our collections thoroughly. That´s to say, they can touch, look at, and try them on, while giving them a thousand different uses without worrying that they will go out of fashion or that another season will be released just as they are trying them on. I believe that the tyranny of collections – and therefore the fads and trends – many times do not confuse only the consumer but also the small brands themselves that try to make their way into the fashion market. I have had the chance to observe how many of them become distracted like moths at the light with its constant barrage of new 4x6 images and lose time both mentally and emotionally that could be used on their own yearly collection. I am convinced that if we believe in “slow” in the sense of the complexity of the word and not in the literal, not only will it be helping the planet, but also we will be doing ourselves the favor of consoling our fashionista souls and doing away with the feeling that the “changing room” closes in on us and we only want to get out.
In search of fashion that can be handed down
One day while I was putting together the clothes I was going to wear the next day, my husband asked me if I knew which of my dresses I would hand down to our daughter. My automatic reply was yes, because there are some that I would like for her to be able to use. But what should a piece of clothing have so that it can transcend generations? What a piece of clothing should have to be inheritable For me there are characteristics that emerge naturally, if we think about clothing to hand down. Here I will go over the most obvious. 1- Non-seasonal design: though fashion is cyclical and much of what was used yesterday also will be used tomorrow, I believe that the more non-seasonal clothing is the more easily it can be handed down. With that in mind I eliminate all fashion which is fad/fast, short lived or disposable. Classical clothing lines or styles inspired by other eras, but cuts which are rather neutral â€“or the very avant-garde- are much more desirable for handing down. 2- Quality of fabrics: there are pieces of clothing that are nicely designed and cut, but their fabric leaves much to be desired. Spotted cloth,â€œonion clothâ€? or loose threads fabric would be unthinkable to give as gifts, even less so hand them down. The flipside example are t shirts that my mother gave me when I was a kid, that she used when she was young and that I wore
until I got sick of them and passed them on to one of my sisters who I think still uses them. All because they were made of excellent fabric that stood up to many washings, uses and a lot of history. Designer fashion in Latin America for handing down My commitment is to passing down designer fashion, which is my passion. Among the brands that fill my closet and that have the potential to be handed down are Paulo Méndez, of which I have a very complete collection of dresses, jackets and skirts from all of his collections. They have quality and cut which have stood the test of time. Another that falls into this category is Bazar La Pasión, their coats do not have an expiration date; also Sebastián del Real for its good quality fabrics and timeless silhouettes. In the shoe department I go for Luz Príncipe, Gaytan and Barbara Briones which given their materiality and boldness of colors, are a trend in and of themselves. I am certain that my daughter will appreciate them for these characteristics. Although the retelling of brands is brief, given the quantity that coexist in my closet, I still have to see how others evolve that I love for their design, but I am still not sure that they will stand the test of time and wear and tear. This also makes me think that a big challenge for the future is to make and buy fashion while keeping in mind that it will be handed down. This one goal – brought to life in a business plan requires quality standards to be raised and garments produced which grow with the consumer. This path requires a greater effort to be made with respect to the choice of fabrics, a challenge for the fashion designs and value that is to be transmitted to the product (the fact that it is expensive is not always synonymous with it being inheritable). It is obvious that we live in a century where things are more and more short-lived, for which reason it is important to make clear the path we will follow and make our competitive advantage “inheritability”. I believe that in the century of commodities this challenge is by far the best way to give brands more life.
Fashionista, fan of knockoffs? Fake fashion
In Beijing´s silk market a sign reads “We don´t sell fakes”. Nevertheless, around the corner there is a store with a complete catalog of knock-off purses from the most famous brands in the world of fashion. Though in Latin America it is not so blatant, copies of big fashion names are sold on the streets. Are you a fashionista who is in love with knock-offs? I hate fakes. I feel uncomfortable and even ridiculous with them. I must confess that in Beijing I bought a purse that I thought was nice; I assume it must be a copy of some famous brand, though it came without a label (it would be self-deception to believe that local talent at the Silk Market was responsible). I do not consider myself a purist like the people pushing initiatives such as SOPA (Stop Online Piracy Act, with which I have nothing to do). However, I am a defender of creativity and the effort to produce creative worlds and identities through fashion. For that reason I understand the anger of many international designers who have even created campaigns such as “You can´t fake Fashion” (see the inset). Let´s be perfectly honest. For international fashion the copy is institutionalized (what some call an homage). If not, how can you explain to me that many retail brands clone, without thinking twice, the garments from the most important runway events across the globe. In fact, there are specialized blogs for following this practice, such as the entertaining Devil wears Zara, which is now overseen by Vogue Spain. 147
According to one report5 I read, this practice has allowed for the “democratization of fashion” to happen and some consider it beneficial to Fashion Houses, since those who purchase a clone after a while – approximately two years –will buy the real thing. While others say that the speed of trends and the need for the big brands to keep up with the fashionistas creates dark circles of exploitation of humans and the environment. Latin America is not immune to this phenomenon. Globalization of trends and the uncontrollable desire of many fashion lovers to have the latest design in their closet leads them to buy clones, which cost a fraction of the originals. Can designer fashion rid itself of this behavior? Unfortunately the answer is no. Though the copy does not exist on a large scale, it does partially. I have seen a case in which someone took advantage of the success of a model that caused a fury- it happened with cloth shoes – and they made them as if they were their own. In that example the original design may disappear in as much as it is not patented or the brand that originally produced it never found a place for it in the market. Without a doubt it would be self-deception to believe that copies can be eliminated with laws, because of the sheer volume of knowledge and the flow of information at this point of everyday life in the 21st century. Nonetheless, this context forces creative people to think about capturing customers and educating them about the advantages of the original over the copy. On the other hand, as consumers we cannot make ourselves crazy and have to understand that if we don´t play fair, we are ensuring practices that can even be linked to the exploitation of people, by far the worst of this kind of phenomenon.
SModa, El País; “And the FBI what do they think about this?”, January 23rd, 2012. At: http:// smoda.elpais.com/articulos/y-el-fbi-que-opina-de-esto/816
Fake No More by Paula Gray / Photo: Vanesa Fernรกndez PH / 20 151
Fashion blogs: their role in the fashion system
As the years pass fashion blogs have become an important part of international fashion. That has caused them to fulfill diverse functions that range from entertainment to the “regulation” of the value chain of brands. The many roles of fashion blogs The formalization of fashion blogs has caused them to refine their reporting and assume a diversity of functions that they never could have imagined possible at the time of their creation. Perhaps they couldn´t imagine but it has made it possible for them to become opinion leaders and be influential in certain areas. But what are these roles? Entertainment: the first role which has been bestowed upon fashion blogs is that of entertainment, that´s to say, the ability to deliver content which entertains its readers, makes them dream and aspire to new realities related to fashion. Experiential or “guinea pig”: this role involves experimenting, testing, reviewing and recommending products and services to readers that are related to fashion and beauty. This aspect has made it possible for them to gain credibility among their readers.
Opinion / specialized critics: over time may fashion blogs have found their voice and become important to the fashion system. In this role as specialized critic and opinion maker a space has been gained to be used as a resource for referencing the traditional media and those related to the fashion industry. Regulator: even though this role is more involved, there are blogs that have not been afraid to undertake it and have denounced all kinds of social injustice, mistreatment and exploitation that may go on in certain production chains of the fashion industry. For example: the use of clandestine workshops and child labor for the harvesting of cotton, the deplorable wages paid in certain factories, etc. Beyond the function blogs fulfill with respect to fashion it is critical for bloggers to understand that each one of them assumes certain responsibilities and duties in the fashion system and particularly when it comes to their readers. The credibility and respect we have woven over the years could all be thrown away if we forget that our work should be based on transparency and the trust of those who follow us. If we betray that trust, we are condemning ourselves to an exile from fashion we will not be able to return from.
Directory of blogs in Argentina and Chile In October of 2010 the journalist and fashion blogger Lorena Pérez, founder of Blocdemoda, decided to make a list of all the fashion and beauty blogs that existed in her country. Her idea was to “create a directory that would serve bloggers, but also designers, companies, agencies and journalists”. This database would be public domain and would give an idea of how many blogs existed at that point. She wrote a post where she invited bloggers to participate in this census leaving a commentary with their information. At the end of November 93 blogs were recorded. Inspired by that blog the same project was developed by Quinta Trends in Chile, but this time the option to update information was added. The first call for participants happened in October of 2010, and again in April of 2011, and the last call was made in March of 2012. Besides calls for registration, it is a collaborative directory in an online format (Google Drive document) which is periodically revised and updated with new information provided by bloggers. By April of 2014, 56 fashion and beauty blogs were registered.
Results of the census in Argentina: http://bit. ly/13GIWzB Results of the census in Chile: http://bit.ly/ZZow0L
Photo: Aníbal Toro 154
Fashion bloggers and brands: “dangerous” relations The empowerment of fashion blogs in the Latin American fashion scene brought with it a series of changes that have to do with new ways of showing off fashion. From the moment that brands began to understand the power and effect these “new means of communication” had, a courting of them was begun, which is positive for some and for others is the beginning of the end of their credibility. Fashion bloggers on the bench When an activity stops being a hobby and becomes a part of a person´s work routine, the hours spent on it become monotonous. Communication is no longer free. What is to be done when facing this dilemma? There are a number of alternatives. In the world of fashion bloggers two scenarios appear: 1 – Part time blogging + paid work: this option helps eliminate certain economic pressures and tensions, but does not do away with the “temptations”. 2 – Working exclusively on blogs: this option requires one to develop a business strategy –and survival- which takes into account fashion and beauty brands as a part of the equation. A mentality emerges amidst the communications (with a marked editorial slant), where non profit is not an alternative.
The majority of the Latin American fashion scene operates according to the first alternative. In fact, I am living that reality. Though I have never seen my blog as a hobby, the fact that I do not have financial pressure has helped me keep the editorial angle very defined and independent and that gives me the freedom to write without financial obligations. Nevertheless, this credibility, which forms in the periphery of the various types of media, is compromised in as much as the flirting with fashion and beauty brands is transformed into a relationship mediated only by gifts and invitations to events. It´s easy: it is cost effective for brands to have a group of bloggers to showcase the products and then motivate them to write in exchange for a cup of tea, a free sample or a gift card. The same promotion in a traditional media format is expensive and at times has less impact (above all if the circulation of physical media, for example, is compared to the monthly visits many blogs receive). I don´t want to be hypocritical. I have participated often in these invitations and it has driven me to form alliances with certain brands. Even still, I believe that limits must be made clear and the other parties should understand that the bloggers´ identity is based on their independence and when they begin to operate as a “free” publicist for brands, their audience diminishes and credibility vanishes. A couple of years ago, I commented on the brand ambassadors and how they could be of help to Latin American fashion designers. In that same reflection, the obligation that we have to make full disclosure about these ties is emphasized. I believe that the fashion blogger has the freedom to publish what they want and make exchanges with the brands that are best for them. Nevertheless, there is also an obligation to declare these links to their followers. To be an opinion leader or influential implies this kind of responsibility. Hateful commentaries appear such as the one I read in Twitter a few days ago “that fashion bloggers seem to be an escort service for brands”, referring to the abundance of product photos on Instagram, without explanations. This
does not mean that it is prohibited to upload photos of brands. Pointing out the things that I like is second nature for me, without the encouragement of a package delivered to my doorstep. I do it because that object â€“piece of clothing awakens emotions in me and becomes linked to my identity. Now more than ever before it is critical to be clear about oneÂ´s limits and that each fashion blog has its own. The important thing is to not betray them and above all to not betray those who follow you and spend a good amount of their time reading your blog.
Fran Torresâ€™s workshop by Francisca Torres Carrasco /21 159
1- Ignacio Lechuga (pages 11 - 46). Established in 2003 in Santiago, Chile by designer Ignacio Lechuga. His proposal focuses on the recovery of classical design, while incorporating contemporary and modern accents through the use of fabrics (made from fine materials) and unique assembly techniques which are the principal elements of his creative process. He also mixes classical tailoring techniques with decorative elements and construction. Website: http://on.fb.me/PmYBCE 2- Bazar La Pasión (page 16). Established in 2006 in Valparaíso, Chile, by the journalist Carolina Arias. Known for gathering the port city´s heritage and the nostalgia of times past, she then incorporates those themes in her designs by fusing the modern with ecological design (with upcycling and slow fashion in mind) and creating unique pieces, be they clothing, accessories or furniture. Website: http://www.bazarlapasion.cl/ 3- Vielma London (page 25). Established in 2012 in London, England by Chilean designer Gabriel Vielma, who also currently resides there. It can be described as a versatile fashion proposal, both cutting edge and chic, but which also seeks to make women feel confident. His clients range from 28 to a little over 80 years old. Leather, silk print and the use of new materials (like raffia braided into silk) are key to his collection´s trademark design. Website: http://www.vielma.co.uk/ 4- Matías Hernán (page 26). Established in 2010 in Viña del Mar, Chile by designer Matias Carcamo. He was the winner of the third season of the 160
television program Project Runway Latin America in 2013. His proposal is characterized by a mixture of classical and very feminine silhouettes with futuristically structured geometrical visual codes. Website: http://www. matiashernan.com/ 5- Híbrida (page 31). Established in 2008 in Santiago, Chile by the scenic designer Angélica Delgado and the sociologist, Eduardo Sepúlveda. Their proposal revolves around the concept of hybridity and the different levels at which this idea emerges. This contemporary jewelry brand fuses ethnourban and eclectic style in order to use recycled materials to generate original and innovative pieces. Website: http://www.hibrida.cl/ 6- Paula Kunstmann (page 39). Established in 2006 in Valdivia, a city in southern Chile, by designer Paula Kunstmann. She is noted for her practical and comfortable clothing design for men and women and incorporating the technique of hand stamped silk screening to create unique and distinctive designs with an upbeat blending of colors. She finds inspiration for her collections in local elements such as nature. Website: http://www. paulakunstmann.com/ 7- Walka Studio (page 40). Established in 2003 in Santiago, Chile by Claudia Betancourt and Nano Pulgar. In the Aymara dialect (Language spoken by Native People of Northern Chile) “Walka” are the sacred necklaces that mothers give to their daughters. It is perhaps the first proposal in Chile to develop innovation in artisanal crafts, recovering the use of traditional materials in a vanguard design. Its founders understand the development of fashion with a Chilean identity as an inner search or path on which to discover and construct our own identity. “So with the help of many local artists, we can see the evolution of such a search. We believe that handmade objects can tell personal stories, where the gathering and preparation of the raw materials, design and hand crafting, create objects that bear a mark by which one can tell who created it. I believe that is what makes up Identity.” Website: http://www.walka.cl/
8- Jorge Caballero (page 41). Established in 2001 in Punta Arenas, Chile by designer Jorge Caballero, who explains that his motivation to develop a jewelry collection was based on the discovery and exploration of areas of design where patterns and no precedent existed in form and materiality. In addition, there was a desire to recover a long forgotten ancestral method of weaving with rattan, which dates back 900 years to the Yagan people from Patagonia, a southern region of Chile. “So, as an inhabitant of the Magellanes region (Patagonia) I had a responsibility and an urgent need to not allow this art form to die out and make the place where I live at the end of the world known to others.” Website: http://www.jorgecaballero.cl/ 9- Uchi Bolcich (page 57). Established in 2009 in Bariloche, southern Argentina, by designer Ursula Bolcich. His proposal develops narratives inspired by local elements, the shapes and colors of the landscape, in addition to the architecture in San Carlos de Bariloche (his birthplace and the place where he works). His creative process centers on the use of a perforating laser that allows him to literally bring to life in fabric different species of flora and fauna in his designs. Website: http://uchibolcich.weebly. com/ 10- Butrich (page 59). Established in 2006 in Lima, Peru, by designer Jessica Butrich. Her proposal reinvents the aesthetics of the past with a unique style, while making use of feminine and graphic elements. The result of this process is a narrative filled with femininity and laden with a sophisticated irreverence. Her spring/summer collection 2014, “Impossible Love “, inspired by a love story between a penguin and a flamingo, is a perfect example of these narratives. Website: http://www.butrich.com/ 11- Nev Tejidos (pages 68-69). Established in 2008 in Buenos Aires, Argentina, by Juana and Noelia Alzira Vargas. Their proposal is defined by the combining of traditional weaving and designer fashion. It is a brand which performs its own reading of different styles and trends and afterwards reaches its own interpretation in an artisanal garment which is put to different uses, some which are unusual for such fabrics. It is a fusion of the traditional and cutting edge, pushing the use of wool to unthinkable forms. Website; http://on.fb.me/1dR0EtS 162
12- Lorena Sosa (page 70). Established in 2005 in Tucumán, Argentina by designer Lorena Sosa. Her designs (clothing and contemporary jewelry) offer a variety of colors and textures, with an innovative use of materials and experimentation in the manufacturing process to transcend forms and evoke an aesthetic response that tells a tale essentially linked to the local life and culture. The photograph is of a hand bag from her collection “Nothing to hide”, that was exhibited at the “Land of diversity, time of contrast” exposition held in London. The Trends Watcher Group INTI and the Design Department of the Ministry of Culture (MICA) were in charge of the curatorship of this event. Website: http://www.lorenasosa.com.ar/ 13- La Joya Design (page 71). Established in 2005 in Barcelona, Spain by Chilean designer Luz Briceño (now based in Chile since 2008). Her proposal is a mixture of creative and commercial elements, a balance of art and luxury. Along with the naturalness of good design she makes use of fine quality materials. In her collection “Cooper Edition” (photo) she has created garments with copper, metal and textile fibers. At this moment she is doing research with different materials combination of organic quality such us alpaca, cassimir, organic cotton with cooper fiber and creating new technological wellness textiles. Website: http://www.lajoyadesign.com/ 14- Camilo Álvarez (page 87). Established in 2008 in Medellin, Colombia by designer Camilo Alvarez. He elaborates his garments from a poetic and reflexive perspective based on everyday elements. In 2013, the Colombian textile company Fabricato invited him to develop a collection with fabrics that were prepared for Colombiatex of the Americas 2014, giving birth to “Working - Walking - Dancing “. Those fabrics were the raw materials for the creation of his garments. He explored long and full silhouettes, and a melange, for example, which inspired several industrial laundering processes that were used on some of the pieces. Website: http://www.camiloalvarez.co/ 15- MartínJ (pages 90 - 91). Established in 2003 in Santiago, Chile by designer Juan Gonzalez. The designer describes his brand as a response to contemporary circumstances, creating forms that address everyday needs with versatility and a multiplicity of interpretations. It is a line of clothing that
focuses on creating a unique statement for the user. This photo set was done in March of 2014 on Roosevelt Island, New York, USA. Website: http:// www.stateofmartinj.com 16- Gaytan (page 119). Established in 2008 in Villa Alemana, Chile by Loreto Hinojosa. Her proposal is focused on developing quality handmade products with purpose and durable construction, which the creator describes as comfortable, ergonomic, eclectic designs with respect to form, texture and color. Website: http://on.fb.me/QLcueS 17- Makinita de Coser (page 128). Established in 2008 in Valparaiso, Chile by designer Paula Roman. Her proposal evokes nostalgia and elegance with simple silhouettes, hints of retro and a lot of color. It is conceived for a woman seeking classical and timeless quality, inspired locally and created with love and dedication in limited editions. Website: http://on.fb.me/1dQdZ5N 18- Artículo 6: Narratives of gender, strength and politics (pages 133 - 134) is a project led by the Peruvian activist and designer Lucía Cuba that aims to raise awareness about the case of forced sterilizations implemented during the government of Alberto Fujimori in Peru. The name of the project refers to the Sixth Article of the Second Chapter in the General Health Law of Peru, which establishes that “all persons have the right to choose freely the contraceptive method they prefer and to receive appropriate information about the methods available and the risks involved”. “I found out about the case in 2008 when I was doing some investigative work for my doctoral studies in Public Health. This allowed me to reconnect with activists that were working on the case with a group of victims over a period of 15 years. It was the same time I was preparing my thesis for my master’s degree in “Fashion, design and society” that I was studying for in Parsons, New York, USA. The association between this shameful case and the possibility to form a critical, yet informative position, made it possible to define the case as a central theme in the formation of the design activist proposal. The central idea is not based exclusively on the information about this case, but also on the opportunity that we as designers have to generate
new narratives in relation to gender, human rights, sexual and reproductive health, among many other issues,” says Cuba. Article 6 consists of a collection of 34 pieces of clothing and 12 performances. Some of these performances were presented at the New York Fashion Week in August of 2012. For more information: http://articulo6.pe/ 19- VOZ (page 141). Established in 2009 in Mapuche communities in Southern Chile and New York, USA by the American designer Jasmine Aarons. VOZ celebrates tradition through contemporary design. Through collaborative workshops, they provide training in design innovation to skilled rural weavers, beginning with Mapuche communities in Southern Chile. VOZ international designers work intimately with artisans to envision, prototype and finalize our fair trade fashion collections. VOZ’ hand-made garments give a new voice to artisans by bridging centuries of their exquisite craft traditions to modern fashion platforms. VOZ works to empower women and their communities financially, creatively, and professionally. In the face of globalization and vastly disappearing indigenous knowledge, today’s artisans are the last generation within their communities to practice and teach their rich ancestral craft traditions. VOZ give’s these artisans a means of sustaining their culture, by offering them economic and artistic protection for their proprietary indigenous craft forms. Their artisans receive name credit and earn royalties for their designs featured in our collection. Website: http://madebyvoz.com 20- Fake No More and recycling “fakes” (page 151). Is an initiative led by Argentinean designer Paula Gray. “Fake No more” is the insignia printed on an organic cotton t-shirt produced in a numbered series which she developed under her namesake brand in an attempt to raise awareness about the meaning of authenticity and Fair Trade. Recycling “fakes”: Later she began to speak among her circle of friends, customers, colleagues etc about what lies behind each one of those “fake” products (exploitation, pollution, forced labor etc), convincing them to reject
fake products. After she got a hold of these “fakes” she took them apart and reused the pieces, components, linings, parts, etc., by incorporating them into her new creations. Once transformed they were returned to their original owners. In this way she was able to recycle the “fakes” and remove them from circulation and later return them in a creative as well as resourceful fashion. Website: http://www.paulagray.com.ar/ 21- Fran Torres (page 159). Established in 1998 in Santiago, Chile by the designer Francisca Torres Carrasco. Her proposal began in clothing and now is focused on accessories designed as one of a kind pieces, in which found materials are used, such as beads, broaches, design panels, charms or any object that catches her attention during her visits to flea markets or antique fairs. Website: http://www.frantorres.com
Special thanks to:
Alejandro Turis and Leticia Turis for their support, love and infinite patience; PĂa Montalva for becoming my mentor; Juana InĂŠs Casas for her keen observations and her help with the editing; Camila Valenzuela for her advice at the beginning of this process and to all those who make up the national fashion designer scene (designers, photographers, makeup artists, producers, models,
followers of Quinta Trends and everyone else) for their kindness and concern. â€ƒ
This book is the result of the careful observation of the Latin American fashion system from a digital point of view.
Sofia Calvo is a journalist, MBA in Business Management from the Catholic University in Valparaiso Chile and the founder of the designer fashion blog â€œQuinta Trendsâ€? (2007). The following are some of her activities in the world of design: she has consulted organizations and brands from the designer fashion scene in Chile and Latin America, she has produced fashion and design events, she has been invited to cover international fashion events in Argentina and Colombia, and has given undergraduate and postgraduate classes about digital marketing. She is also the head of the Asian Pacific Program at the Chilean Library of Congress, which strives to be a platform for and inform the public about the diversity of contacts between Chile and the Asian Pacific. 170