In spite of the country’s ongoing economic woes, Argentina’s fashion scene continues to thrive but faced with ever rising prices, Argentine designers (and shoppers) are being forced to be smarter and more resourceful in their methods (and shopping habits). As a result, emerging designers are looking beyond mainstream fashion trends and proposing a smarter, more conceptual attitude towards shopping and fashion; one that favours quality over quantity and universal, timeless pieces over fast fashion. Here I present three new Argentine fashion designers to look out for.
For Juliana Chain and Lucia Garcia Bello, fashion is about telling a story. “When there’s a story linked to a brand, people are drawn to it. Our work is very autobiographical and conceptual says 26-year-old Chain,and we work with all natural fibres and processes that don’t damage the planet. We want to change peoples’ attitudes towards fashion in Argentina, making pieces that are accessible and affordable to all”.
The two University of Buenos Aires graduates first came on the fashion radar as the design duo ‘Chain_Garcia Bello’ when they reached the finals of Fashion Edition BA in March of this year (the annual design competition for local emerging designers co-organised by Hotel Faena and Mercedes Benz).
Their collection, entitled De:Construction tells a story of nostalgia for the destruction of a family home and the construction of new foundations. The girls took biodegradable, household materials such as floor cloths and other recycled materials and fashioned them into tunic-style dresses, tops and shirts, all by hand, that, although edgy, are designed to appeal to a universal audience. “Our clothes don’t have an age or sex. They are neither feminine nor masculine.” explains Chain from her bright, airy studio space located behind her family home in the sleepy town of Bernal that sits south of the city of Buenos Aires.
Chain_García Bello Taller
The girls are now working on their Spring/Summer collection that they hope to debut at BAF Week in August. This collection is built around their childhood memories of summers at the beach, “that familiar moment when you first arrive at the coast and inhale the salt air,” describes Chain. In collaboration with artist Florentina Rodriguez Traverso, they’ve created materials typically associated with fishing such as net, ropes and knots out of pure cotton and then petrified them with sea salt. The finished products are pieces embedded with clusters of salt crystals that could almost be mistaken for more valuable crystals. “We want to address the concept of beauty and convey the message that you can find the same beauty and luxury in something natural,” explains Chain. The girls, who have also studied jewellery design, are also developing a line of organic jewellery pieces, inspired by objects found in the sand such as stones and corroded wood.
Chain_Garcia Bello is currently available from their taller in Bernal (south of the city) or they participate in a pop-up showroom in the city around once a month.
Chain_Garcia Bello, by appointment only here.
Taking an equally conceptual approach to the fashion world, Córdoba-based fashion label Transeúnte also encourages a more free-thinking approach to dressing. According to creative director and designer Lula Rojas, a student of both architecture and fashion design, “Transeúnte fuses architecture and fashion design; making architecture portable and fashion functional and unisex.”
The brand first debuted in BAF Week last year with a collection inspired by the urban landmarks of the city of Córdoba. “My inspirations for each collection are closely linked to the moment, from my surroundings to a mental image, architecture and music,” says Rojas. “I focus on form, volume and asymmetry and play around with proportions. For example, I’m drawn to the oversized and like to incorporate hoods and pockets.”
The collection features slickly tailored pants, blazers, jackets, coats, skirts, overalls and dresses in a palette of solid colours, sometimes contrasting blocks of colours that vary according to the season and concept.
“I would be lying if I said I wasn’t influenced by trends,” says Rojas. “But I don’t think I am influenced by fashion as such. I absorb information consciously or unconsciously, whatever I see, experience or read, and then I try to reinterpret or transform it,” she explains.
The brand currently sells its collection from its headquarters Studio&Shop in Córdoba, and will soon be selling online.
Transeúnte – Studio&Shop: Ituzaingó 1285, Cordoba,
Having worked as a designer in the commercial fashion world for five years at Etiqueta Negra and Gola, Ian Van Lierde became inspired to launch his own brand. He says, “I realised there was a niche in the market for simple, modern lifestyle products for men. I didn’t want to make fast fashion items because this isn’t my philosophy,” Instead, he decided to create minimalist pieces that he would buy and use himself and would stand the test of time. Using his knowledge and contacts to acquire the best grain leather and other top notch materials, he came out with a line of all-black accessories, including belts, wallets, weekend bags, backpacks and socks. “Black is a symbol of masculinity, elegance, formality and sophistication,” says Van Lierde. And, even in the trend-obsessed fashion world, it’s a colour that never seems to grow old.
PIET, a shortened form of the Dutch name ‘Pieter’ reflects Ian’s European roots. The name was also inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian, known for his abstract geometric works in a monochrome palette.
While he’s focusing on accessories for the moment, he’s working on small capsule collections of clothing for the future that will include T-shirts and sweatshirts and possibly some ceramics, candles and other items for the home.
PIET is currently available to buy online or in their appointment-only showroom (address given on request) but a boutique may be on the horizon in the future.
PIET, showroom is by appointment only. Go here.
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