Quality and sustainability take center stage at 080 Barcelona Fashion
Far from the hectic schedules of the four main international fashion weeks, Barcelona's fashion week has found its own place outside of the traditional fashion show calendar and grandiose showcases. Forced to reinvent itself during the pandemic, Catalonia's fashion week focused on digitization and on two areas of work that emphasize quality: sustainability and innovation. After several months of hard work, the event finally returned to a physical format for its 30th edition that took place from October 25 to 28 at the Recinto Modernista in San Pau with 23 designers and brands in attendance.
"The feedback has been very positive and the designers are thrilled. We are reaping the fruits of all the hard work carried out over the last few months, combining two strategies: one focused on digitization to better communicate and the other focused on the physical realm from which we originate," explained the director of the event, Marta Coca, while keeping in mind the challenges posed by the current geopolitical context.
"It's a good sign, but we are well aware that inflation and geopolitical tensions portend a difficult period for fashion," she said. Despite the industry's "good results" in the first three quarters of 2022, the sector will "probably experience a more complicated and slower than usual fourth quarter despite the Black Friday and Christmas seasons."
Second-hand clothes take to the catwalk
Sustainability is one of the new priorities of the event, which is organized by the Generalitat de Catalunya with a budget of 3 million euros per year. "For a long time, sustainable fashion has been perceived as an alternative for low-income consumers. We wanted to elevate its image because we need to make customers aware of the need to avoid overconsumption and to invest in clothing made out of sustainable materials instead," said Coca, underlining the platform's pedagogical mission, which, in its latest edition, materialised into its first second-hand clothing fashion show under the name 080 Reborn.
The event was organised in collaboration with the Catalan waste agency (ARC), CCM and Girbau LAB with the help of stylists Fermin+Gilles, who were responsible for designing a collection made from garments recovered from textile waste sorting centers and second-hand pieces found at Humana, Solidança, Formació i Treball, Flamingos Vintage Kilo and Las Pepitas, among others. The result was a line with a retro and vintage feel, where pieces from brands such as Fred Perry, Dior and Dr. Martens shared the spotlight.
"To make known and give prestige to second-hand fashion is fundamental. It does not compete with the work of designers and it will not lead to a drop in sales, as some fear. On the contrary, the designers we work with have everything to gain if customers invest more money in high-quality pieces that can be given a second life in the value chain. It should not be a war between trends and upcycling, there is room for both," said the director, insisting on the relevance of sustainable clothing.
"Even if 080 Barcelona seeks to reach out to media outlets and offer visibility to brands, we have an obligation to raise awareness and support the rise in prices. It is essential to reduce mass consumption and to encourage conscious, responsible and high-quality purchases," stressed Coca who is convinced of the need for public platforms to be involved.
To this end, 080 Barcelona Fashion is working on a circular fashion pact for Catalonia. Several textile manufacturers, sorting centers, technology centers and government agencies have already signed up for this voluntary program, which aims to set common goals and organize round tables to better finance and communicate sustainable fashion.
"Starting next year, the demands of brands in terms of sustainability and sizes available in stores will increase. Those that already have a certain volume of points of sale will be obliged to set up dedicated second-hand corners or offer to take back used garments," cited Coca as an example, adding that these criteria are expected to become even more critical by 2025.
Faced with the difficulties of convincing companies to invest and probably raise their prices with the consequent reluctance of end consumers, Coca believes that "in a couple of years the impact of these increases should be innocuous. That way, even if the auxiliary lines of business are not yet generating profits, they will not penalize the profitability of the companies in the first place." She added: "All you have to do is open a window to see that this temperature is not normal for this time of year. We can't keep putting off taking action, we need to act now".
In search of hybrid solutions
Combining innovation, art and fashion, the disruptive brand LR3 Louis Rubi, founded in 2019, offered visitors an alternative experience with LR3 Experience, a ten-minute virtual reality journey during which it presented its latest collection. The space was open to the public for the duration of the event.
The brand's presentation space took the form of an art gallery, where visitors could get up close to the physical garments in silk or velvet, with sharp contrasts between floral and checkered prints.
"We are all delighted to return to a physical format, but it is true that digital presentations allow us to offer a greater diversity of contents and interventions, and to have more time to prepare them," explained Coca.
The future strategy of the event, both in terms of format and schedule, will be decided in December, as soon as the platform has finished collecting feedback from the participants.
"In any case, we do not intend to make a radical change," said the director, revealing, however, that she wishes to establish alliances with the city of Barcelona itself.
"We are aware that Barcelona is the leading business hub in Catalonia. For our fashion shows, it would be ideal to have the support of the city council to facilitate things, open up spaces and allow us to create inter-sectoral synergies. Fashion is a sector very much linked to the art of living, which could collaborate with other industries and spread throughout the city during fashion week," she argued, admiring the success of fashion events organised in Copenhagen.
Familiar names and emerging talents
In any case, the fashion week program was busy and eclectic, with the participation of established designers such as Custo Barcelona, Lola Casademunt by Maite, Menchen Tomas, Guillermina Baeza, Lebor Gabala and Simorra. However, other younger labels were also present, such as Avellaneda and its elegant co-ed suits; Reveligion and its gothic tulle volumes; as well as Martin Across and its genderless and sustainable designs.
A number of digital brands were also present, such as Is Coming, created by Hoss Intropia founder Constan Hernández; or Amlul, the label of locally produced timeless pieces by Galician influencer Gala González. Finally, the most opulent designs were by Dominnico and Yolancris, two of the most internationally renowned brands on the Barcelona calendar, who already dress stars such as Rosalía and Beyoncé.
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