Born in Venezuela, Katty Xiomara moved to Portugal at 18. She was still a student when she presented her first collection in Portugal Fashion back in 1996 and since then she became part of the Portuguese Fashion calendar and her name went across borders. In 2007, she opened her first studio in Oporto and since 2013 she flies to New York Fashion Week to present her ultra-feminine yet playful collections. Fast forward to 2019, she is now shaking the Portuguese industry with a new commitment: eco-design.
Welcome to the exciting world of the Porto-based master of minimum waste techniques and functional style. Katty Xiomara is this years designer collaboration!
After Now, your latest collection presented at Portugal Fashion, it’s a call for eco-design. Has sustainability always been a concern for the brand?
My career in Design has almost 20 years now and I have to acknowledge that 20 years ago no one was interested in this matter. We were living the Fast-Fashion rising and we all welcomed it with open arms. The only way of facing it as a brand was to offer a much more personal, local and exclusive product. Unware of it, these features spoke to us as part of the sustainable language back then, but I have to admit it happened almost with indifference. Until recently, I thought to myself that there was less I could do to change the industry’s course… Today, I think of all the smalls things I can change as a huge progress. I know I won’t be a purist in the way I see the concept of sustainability, and in fact that is not what I look for because purism is an extremist formula I find hard to manage. However, I have been discovering new ways of having a more sustainable work method, not only through new materials, but also through their optimization, using those new methods in my favour and reaching results that are not only aesthetical but also functional.
Multifunctionality was key as well. Do you think potentializing the different garments we own is the best answer to waste and impulsive consumerism?
I wouldn’t radicalize this solution, naming it the best one, but this is without a doubt one of the easiest ways of doing it, as anyone can do it. Finding functionality in clothes helps soften our “necessity” motivated by Fast-Fashion that made us believe that we need to have an enormous number of pieces – something that most of the time is only a show window of our wardrobe. This is also an intelligent way of travelling, only carrying the essential. On one side, it helps transform our way of thinking and making decisions, and on the other side, it helps us practicing our creativity and its different forms, taking us less space.
Is it on brands’ hands to become eco-friendlier or are there still many obstacles to face? Which are them?
I think it is relevant to say all brands are capable of making that choice and this is not only a matter of trends, but of urgency and necessity. I wouldn’t say there are obstacles, but I have to admit it is not easy. It’s crucial to find reliable sources and to educate ourselves about the authenticity of materials and their origins, changing work methods and, finally, count on consumers’ goodwill. Most of the time, sustainability is pointed as a marketing strategy, but the reality of numbers shows a consumer that isn’t ready to embrace this concept. The final client is still not ready to understand the metric between buying a product that will last longer although it has an inevitable higher cost versus buying a product that offers him one month of use aligned with what is trending, but not with quality and durability.
What would be the most efficient way of helping the Fashion industry and Design itself becoming more sustainable? Do we need new laws and support platforms for designers, for example?
We need it all: new laws, platforms that help spread awareness around products and support designers, etc. However, I think the most important thing to do would be to go further and not only deliver this message to the consumer, but also reach him. If he’s not completely aware, nothing will change because at the end of the day “the client is always right”. For instance, we speak about a new generation that is more aware of these matters but that is the same generation that buys Fast-Fashion, high tech at every 9 months and processed food. This means the message is delivered, but not entirely reached by them.
On the other side, do you consider sustainability is nothing but a trend? How to tell if brands are just going with the flow and are not being completely honest on their eco-friendly commitment?
At first, it could look like a trend, but I think this trend is also a turning point in the way we see this industry. I don’t think it would be clever to send an eco-friendly message that is not real, because this is a-not-so desirable market and there are few consumers that believe in this way of thinking, and those few consumers are always well informed, so I think it won’t be difficult for them to discover the lack of authenticity of brands regarding this issue.
Did you ever thought Katty Xiomara’s identity could be compromised during this process of change into a more sustainable philosophy?
I speak openly about my incapacity of being 100% sustainable, but I try with every step I take to conquer knowledge and new skills that will allow me to improve my work methods. This is my commitment. I will not give up on my identity in terms of colour, patterns and textures, and what I look for is balance, educating myself on the best ways of applying it without affecting the life cycle of garments.
What changed in your production process?
Essentially the time I spent studying eco-design solutions with the purpose of creating garments that are more functional, and also analysing ways of optimizing raw materials to minimize waste and exploring the origin of it, trying to find new eco-friendly solutions.
Which materials and techniques do you prioritize now?
We now give priority to recycled cottons, polyesters and polyamides. In terms of production techniques, we’ve kept our attention to workmanships and we’ll keep producing locally. In terms of shaping and cut, we’re now focused in studying the best way of minimizing waste.
Do you feel the need to change other aspects? What’s your next step?
I still need to lean more, explore new raw materials and improve my concept of eco-design.
In a personal style perspective, what can we – as individuals that love Fashion – change to assure we have a less negative impact in the environment?
I believe that small gestures can make a big difference, if they help create a reaction chain. That said, I believe each and every one of us can individually make a difference. We can start by changing the way we choose and then turn to the way we buy and treat each garment to finally switch the way we communicate our concern not as something that is imposed, but as an honest fear, feeling proud of this choice we’ve made of ignoring the industry’s tendency towards, for example, buying a new phone when the one we have works perfectly.
Do you consider we’re much more awake when it comes to sustainability or do we still have a long way to go?
We still have a long way to go. For many people, recycling their garbage is effort enough, when it should be something merely natural.
What’s your opinion regarding platforms like Springkode? Do you feel you share our vision?
Unfortunately, consumers are still unaware that our textile industry is producing most of the garments they own, although they do it through a complex circuit of intermediaries, increasing its value. Here’s the geniality behind Springkode that offers this high-quality product in a no-brand version that comes straight out of the factory to the final consumer. I strongly identify with this vision that encourages companies to take advantage of their skills and shake their stock, based on the idea that these small collections are born in their warehouse filled with unused fabrics. This way, companies are reinventing their stock in an efficient way, offering us their quality products at fair prices.
Don’t miss the exclusive capsule collection designed by Katty Xiomara for Springkode.