From June the 5th up to the 8th 2020, Fashinnovation held the second edition of Worldwide Talks. The event was full of very interesting and stimulating talks around some of the crucial issues that fashion is facing nowadays. We had the pleasure to talk with some of the guests invited and we are now sharing what came out of such inspiring conversations. Fashinnovation is a digital platform based in New York that aims at bringing together many creatives, designers, and entrepreneurs of the fashion system and creating exciting dialogues around several fashion topics.
We had the pleasure to talk with Yolanda Pérez, CO-Founder & Creative Director of Spanish brand YOLANCRIS, one of the biggest names in the wedding and fashion system. Yolanda spoke with other industry innovators in a talk titled “Fashion is: Culture via Design”, which tackled issues about inclusivity, social sustainability, and how culture intersects with fashion design. We dived even deeper with her, talking about the consequences of the pandemic on production, inclusivity in the wedding world, a new possible narrative for the wedding dress, and much more.
First of all, since the pandemic has unfortunately become an everyday reality, how it has affected your production and creativity?
Needless to say, it has been a shock. A few days ago, after our fashion show in Paris Fashion Week, the pandemic immersed us in a global lockdown. Our production is based on orders. So, our latest orders remained closed at the boutiques worldwide. Then you talk with people, your employees, buyers, clients, your family and friends…you feel the uncertainty. And it was hard. I needed to do something more, so, on one hand, I was promoting and working with a team so as to provide a curated technology for the next Bridal Week, in Barcelona. And, on the other hand, we decided to update our atelier so as to produce medical isolation gowns, masks for the Spanish hospitals. Indeed, today we are still producing medical gowns while we have started to arrange our new bridal collection. Concerning my creativity, I must admit that it has been pretty hard to think about a new design. You feel blocked and need to focus your energy on other things.
Do you think after this tremendous experience we have witnessed, some actual positive changes can occur in terms of sustainability in the industry?
I have to say sustainability it is not something new for YOLANCRIS. Indeed, I think the Haute Couture industry has always worked under sustainable principles. At YOLANCRIS we produce all designs here, at our atelier based in L’Hospitalet de Llobregat (Barcelona). So, it is a local business. Our staff of employees accomplish the diversity. Which I think it helps to improve our vision and our culture. We do not generate lots of waste. We use what we need and reused fabrics in future collections, for example. On the other hand, we don’t work with stocks. We produce what we sell. And I can admit my designs are timeless. And we are always committed to improving everything! Sustainable fashion has become a trend. And customers have spent this lockdown to gather more information about what is behind the clothes they are buying. But sustainability has to be real. And fashion brands have to be transparent and explain why we want to be here and why our clothes could be a good election for you.
Nowadays, we are witnessing many statements coming from fashion players that express the need to make a radical change in the way fashion is created and narrated, starting from production, up to the shows at the fashion weeks, and the distribution. Indeed, we necessarily need to slow down and maybe start feeling the rhythm of the seasons once again, with no rush. What are the challenges, in your point of view, of the bridal dress after this pandemic? Do you think it could take new directions in terms of portability and circularity even outside the wedding?
Absolutely the rhythm of fashion weeks and collections worked as a tax, an imposition we have to face if we had to be in the market. But really, do the market need 4 collections per year? And this is game the industry was playing while the demand for slow fashion was increasing. The pandemic has pushed us to do a reset and rethink all processes. This is something which has also occurred at the bridal market. But a wedding has an emotional feeling. And we can state that our brides have postponed -not cancelled- their weddings and they will wear their YOLANCRIS dresses. The security conditions, the “new normality” will bring us lots of changes and adaptations. But, for sure, people will continue celebrating love. This is why we have decided to support all brides by launching a very special sample sale.
In this economic crisis we are now facing, many small artisans and fashion realities will be shattered or in serious difficulties to start again their activities. In your opinion, are collaborations or partnerships between big and small realities possible in order to strengthen the position of the latter on the market and make creativity spring on both sides?
During this pandemic we have continued to be opened and connected. Our team, our brides, our boutiques, our buyers, photographers, journalists, wedding planners, celebrities. This reset has led us to approach more to all of them. Listen to them and talk with them. And this is something you can notice by having a look at our Social Media. We have adapted our content to the reality and made all of them participants and partners in crime of it. Collaborations? Absolutely necessary! We can achieve more goals if we work together. Our team strongly believes in the power of synergies. Now, you cannot walk alone.
From your creations we can absolutely see how much sustainability is at the core of your brand. It’s also clear that it is not only environmental but also social. How is your relationship with your great team?
As mentioned, our team is diverse: races, ages, gender… each and all of them provide values. Our feet are on earth and we know the tragedy of this pandemic: many stories, many lives, many dreams… how we can talk about a red carpet? How dare? I have always wanted to push our social side. And I am sure we will do more things in the near future. I believe a brand must be something more than a cover of a magazine. The power of fashion could be used for amazing purposes.
Sustainability is also closely related with empowerment and femininity, because we cannot aspire for a change outside if we don’t look first at ourselves and if we don’t have a good relationship with our bodies and our own type of femininity. I am thinking about your last 2020 Bridal Collection named No Fear (by the way, this concept is so pertinent with what’s happening in the world right now), according to you, what is the role of a wedding dress in empowering women and enhancing our femininity?
Indeed, our 2021 bridal collection will continue with “NO FEAR II”. Why? To support all our brides who have to postpone their weddings. To support all the boutiques who have to remained closed. To support the economy and the environment. The idea came after listening and speaking with them during these months. YOLANCRIS is an honest brand. We will also launch a small capsule collection for the bridal 2021. We are now working on it. NO FEAR is one of our core values: you have the right to be yourself, to be free, to dress your moments as you wish, without considering others’ opinion. So, if you like to dress casual in your wedding, just do it!
Talking about women empowerment and sustainability my thoughts inevitably go to the events that’s are shacking the United States right now and that are echoing also in Europe. How much is the bridal sector cultured in terms of diversity? Do you think it’s still an issue that we must tackle as a business?
We need to start with the base: education. And this is something that starts from us; in our homes. We need to build and maintain the culture of respect and diversity. So, obviously it is an issue. As sustainability, femininity, small businessess.
Coming back to Spain, in your interview with Flash Moda, you talked about the situation of workers in the fashion industry. It’s been now about 50 years since it has not received the correct attention and review. What do you think is the cultural role of fashion design in soliciting such issues in order to demand change?
So true!! Imagine! Our professionals are still working under these ancient conditions! And this pandemic has also revealed Spain needs a strong fashion industry. The fast fashion has also pushed the artisan works. And we need to keep them alive! We are talking about heritage, culture, economy; a future for younger generations. It is time to think about it and do something. Spain has more values to offer beyond tourism.
Could you please give us a hint about your future projects?
The COVID19 has led us to think in a shorter period of time. So, right now, our atelier is producing medical isolation gowns, creating our bridal capsule collection 2021, attending customers. We have also launched our online store with a curated selection of dresses and accessories, that will hopefully help us to be closer to the customers. And we are learning and committed to be better in what we do.
Discover our interview to Fashion Innovation Founder Jordana Guimaraes here!
Cover image credits: Yolancris