What drew you to become a fashion designer?
When I was a kid I always saw my grandmother sewing. She was a couturier for a tailor in Barcelona. Even though she told me not to follow in her footsteps, I was always amazed to see how she created those beautiful men suits with her hands, needles, threads, and her old pedal sewing machine from 1914 (which I still have). She showed me a many good things and taught me the importance of doing clean, fine and good work with your hands. One of my aunts was also a dressmaker most of her professional life.
When I was young, there were no designing degrees offered at the university, so I had to follow other studies such as English and Philology. Languages and cultures were also another passion for me. I wanted to study them both at the same time even though the schedules clashed, and all pointed out that I could do a second at a later date.
Once I finished my studies at the University of Barcelona, I moved to Chicago (USA), where I worked for the airline industry. I also obtained an MBA degree. But my passion for fashion designing was still was moving in my heart. However, my busy work schedule meant it wasn't possible to register for a course.
After fifteen years of being in the, States I moved back to Barcelona and worked with my father in his cement and shipping business, and entered a master program for Shipping Business and Maritime Law. Sure it was an interesting market, but my passion remained silent in my heart.
Hard times came with the last financial crisis and in mid-2011, I decided to spend at least one hour a week doing something I really liked. I ended up with Antonia Garcia, a sewing and pattern maker professor very close to my office. We connected right away as her passion for teaching and my passion for learning were a perfect match.
Why was it important to you to offer a sustainable, responsible, Eco fashion line and how do you incorporate ideals such a Zero Waste into your work?
Shortly after I started my classes with Antonia, I attended a conference about Eco fashion. It was an eye opener for me as at that point I was not really familiar with the subject. I was so impressed that I started looking for more information, attending any conference that was offered close by on this subject, reading books, and networking with people that knew about the different aspects and principles of sustainable fashion.
I decided then that if I ever was to take further steps towards a fashion business it had to be in this direction. Once you open your mind to all this information and knowledge, you just want to learn more and more. You want to put into practice as many principles of sustainability and circularity as possible in your daily work and life projects.
Where do your find inspiration for new work?
Inspiration many times finds you while you are working with your materials. I like to be surrounded by the materials. Like a sculpture artist told me, "The piece is right in there, you just have to cut off the remains and the piece will emerge". I also find inspiration by looking at nature, reading different kind of books and history/vintage books.
Also, when you try to apply new techniques you look at things from a different perspective and new ideas and inspiration come to mind. You need to have an open mind, and be willing to try new things out. A relaxed and organized environment, and having peace of mind, are also very helpful to increase the chance to envision new pieces in your mind. I like to always have a notepad close by as inspiration may come without giving notice.
What materials do you work with – organic, reclaimed, etc.?
I mainly work with recycled coffee bags. It is a challenge to work with a waste material and to make something nice to wear out of it. Coffee bags have a history behind them, and they were made for a very different purpose. Now after they have been cleaned and treated with care, a new life and a new purpose awaits for them. They go back into the production point and a new life cycle starts again. I also work with end of stocks, materials from other garments, and organic cotton or organic hemp. I also like to collaborate with others artists and have used hand painted organic cotton by the local artist Esther Ramos and Iwona Flaszczynska, or hand weaved fabric made Rosa López. In both cases art and couture go hand in hand.
What are the biggest challenges you face as a sustainable designer?
The availability of organic/eco materials and supplies, and the lack of local couturiers are challenges we face. The lack of information about the benefits and the urgency to shift towards sustainability and a paradigm change also makes it difficult for us. Here in Spain we have noticed an increased interest in the sustainable fashion and industry sector from the local government and also from consumers. After all the studies, the climate consequences, and the constant increase of waste, the demand and offer will continue to grow till it will become the norm. Now is the time for change. It is time to make our production processes and businesses more sustainable and more circular, because, as we've heard many times, "There is not a Planet B".
How do you help customers understand the higher cost of sustainable garments when they are so inundated with sweat shop-produced cheap merchandise?
It is important to communicate with the customers all the value, benefits and uniqueness as clear and as transparently as possible. Traceability and transparency are key points, as we certainly do not produce in the same way. The production and materials cannot be compared to those of fast fashion, and just by touching the garments one can feel the difference. We provide information about how and with what materials the garments are made, and my little atelier can be visited by appointment.
What can we look forward to seeing on the runway at Eco Fashion Week Australia 2018?
This year the collection will be inspired by the love we have for our city Barcelona, our culture and the breeze of the Mediterranean sea.
Our original recycled material, coffee bags, will be combined with organic cotton, silk and other Eco-materials that will bring an originality, elegance, and unique feel and style to the looks we are creating. We are also using different techniques like natural dyes, embroideries, and Nuno felting to add quality and originality to the circular materials used. We want to take our "coffee bags" and circular fashion a step further because we believe that sustainable fashion can go hand in hand with design and style and good production procedures.
How do you incorporate sustainable living in other areas of your life?
It is true that once you start learning more and more about sustainability and circularity, you start making changes in all areas of your life. We separate waste at home into different bins, use led bulbs for low energy consumption, buy bio/eco food, bicycle to work, recycle paper and all materials at work, buy local products at local shops, and collaborate with the local community and local groups.
Anything else you would like readers to know?
It is a pleasure and honor to participate in Eco Fashion Week Australia. We are facing the same problems and consequences of fast fashion and high consumption in different parts of the world. It is time for a change, and everyone's effort to contribute to this change is very valuable. Many little actions in many parts of the world will create a big change. Sustainable Fashion goes hand in hand with elegance, creativity, and design. It is just a matter of doing things the right way, in a way that will benefit all and be good for the people and the planet. Take a step forward and be part of this change.
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