For S/S15, Spanish eco couture label Diarte assembled architectural lines with touches of masculine flamboyance. The devil is in the details, and Diarte’s powdery palettes surely elevate the wearer’s sense of self.
Founder Ana Diarte’s aching memories of childhood trips to Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, curate us through Diarte’s creative expedition this Spring.
Why should we embrace moving towards sustainability and transparency in fashion?
I think ethical and conscious fashion should be more visible - not only because this would help customers have a better overview of the choices on offer, but they would also have a better picture of how the fashion industry works. In my opinion, we’ve been doing things too wrong in the past few decades, and now it’s time to call for change. Profits wihout ethics do not make any sense.
Do you reckon there are enough designers who work with environmentally friendly materials? What influenced you to create a conscious brand?
Our team has just returned from Paris, where we were showing our collection to buyers, and we collectively realised that there are not many designers that work with eco-friendly materials. I think this is tricky - firstly, because it is not easy to find the required materials, and secondly, because textile design is more focused on synthetic fibers. I guess it is also a matter of having the knowledge on textiles, especially on how they are made, and then making the choice that works better with your label’s philosophy. So, having considered our options, we chose to go for natural fibers because it made more sense to us.
I never actually thought of having my own label, but living in London influenced me to think more globally and consider the possibilities of selling worldwide. It was a very eye-opening experience, and definitely the starting point of Diarte.
“Profits without ethics do not make any sense.”
Where do you draw inspiration from? What are the key themes you’re exploring?
For me this is the most exciting moment in every collection - the moment when you just know what your next inspiration is going to be. Every time starts with an experience I have got, or a memory I could recall, and it tends to move towards architecture or society. For the S/S15, I saw somewhere a picture of a tile from the Alhambra Palace in Granada, Spain, which I had visited with my family when I was a child, so I started doing investigation on it. The tiles, the textures of the woodwork and the importance of the irrigation system formed the basis of the research. The beautiful prints were designed by artist Ana Montiel, who alleged the mood and inspiration perfectly, and then fabrics were added accordingly - all these whites, navy, shades of blue.
What materials are you using in your craft? Where are the materials reworked and garments manufactured?
For the knits we use 100% Merino wool with an Oeko-Tex certificate in winter, and 100% Egyptian cotton for summer. For the fabrics we use wool, recycled silk, cotton, a blend of silk-cotton and mohair. All our suppliers are European - from Italy, Spain and UK. All the garments are locally made in factories near our studio in Spain. So we keep an eye on the production process quite often, and make sure that everything has been taken care of properly.
What are the main benefits and challenges you have encountered when pushing forward conscious design?
The main benefit is to know that we are doing things right, or at least how we want them to be. Also, every season we search for new suppliers in order to find the best choice available. The challenge is always to find the materials, as they are not common and suppliers do not always understand the importance we give to natual fibers. On the other hand, buyers and customers really appreciate the story and effort behind the clothes - where they are made and where the materials come from. We can provide that information, and we are very confident with it.
“I want people to wear my garments, and to say “how comfy this is”, that is my main goal.”
What comes first, functionality or the aesthetics?
Depending on the piece, but normally functionality comes first. I want people to wear my garments, and to say “how comfy this is”, that is my main goal. So I guess the challenge is having the perfect balance - choosing the right fabric for every garment and the use it is going to have. I also consider the manufacturing - I often speak to the technician to make the garment as polished and functional as it can be.
What are the future goals for Diarte? Have you thought of developing a menswear range?
As a designer I want to push my limits and make it right with every collection. The future goals for the brand are to consolidate it and grow to further markets, but gradually. We like to take things step by step, so we will not lose control over things. We are increasing our sales in the U.S. market season after season, and now we have some exciting projects for other markets as well.
About the menswear range - it is funny because in Paris, a buyer just asked the same question. We’ve been thinking about it, because some male friends are really demanding it, but they’ll have to wait. We want to focus on womenswear for now, but it can definitely happen one day.
How would you describe Diarte’s ideal woman?
We have stockists in 16 different countries - from U.S. to Finland and Italy, from Korea to New Zealand. So it has less to do with the origin, and more about how these women feel about themselves and how they feel inside our clothes. Diarte’s ideal woman is confident and independent. She believes in clothes more than in trends and likes to mix and match to make our garments her own. It is incredibly rewarding when we get to see customers in our clothes and the different ways they wear them.
Oh, the creativity!