MEET: ANDREW COIMBRA
INTERVIEW BY ALEKSANDRA GEORGIEVA FOR STARK MAGAZINE
OCTOBER 19, 2017
Meet Andrew Coimbra – the inspirational fashion designer, whose Spring/Summer 2018 collection got highly recognised in the last Paris Fashion Week. In an exclusive interview with Stark Magazine, he shared details about the event, as well as talking about the creative, fresh and original approach he always applies to his work. and professional relationships.
Photography: Patrick Lacsina
Andrew, you studied Material Art and Design at the university. How is working in the fashion industry similar to what you were shown as a student and in what ways is working in that field different?
The University I went to was very arts-focused, so there was a lot of abstract learning in the sense that you would be taught skills or techniques, but not how to apply them, that was left for the individual to decide. It was great because I could express myself in a plethora of creative ways.
Working in the field of fashion design is a lot broader and the techniques I’ve learned at OCAD University are being applied but as a component of the greater picture.
Your designs appear quite contemporary. What inspires you to create them and what are the obstacles that you have had to overcome along the way?
I like to look at classic style staples that everyone likes to wear, and the way they wear them in their everyday lives, and I think about the ways I can “update” them. I love exploring texture, colour, pattern and shapes as a way of helping the pieces evolve.
It’s a major focus that although the brand identifies as greatly “menswear”, the pieces are designed to be wearable by both genders without feeling too vague and ambiguous. I think the best part about clothing is that it can be worn in so many different contexts.
How does your personality and brand name find a common ground?
I try to infuse a lot of myself into the brand in the way of the music I like, the communities I practice in and the dynamics of people I see around me in my life experience. I think it’s important to reflect a bit of yourself in your work.
If you could use only a few words to describe the style of your brand, what would they be?
Classic-cool, fresh, refined ease.
You have experience of working with designers such as Philip Sparks and Pink Tartan. What was this like for you and is there anything you learned from them that you apply to your own work now?
I really enjoyed working with both Philip Sparks and Pink Tartan. I learned a lot about quality standards, the challenges and unique benefits of working in the Canadian fashion industry, and the importance of good branding.
In your opinion, what is the most important aspect when it comes to designing in the world of fashion?
The most important aspect is knowing your brand. As soon as you have a firm idea of what your aesthetic and demographic is everything else makes sense.
Photography: Rachelle Simoneau
Are there any rules that you need to follow when designing for different seasons? In what aspects, if any, Spring/Summer collections controvert Autumn/Winter trends?
I think my only rule is that there is a smooth flow between seasons. I try my best not to make only one starkly different from the other because I know that personally, I like to wear some of my Spring pieces in the fall and vice versa; layering, mixing.
It’s important for me that the wearer can use the pieces seamlessly between seasons.
In your opinion, what is the greatest fashion trend that has ever existed and what made it so special?
I love the trench coat. I feel like it can be transformed in so many ways by using different fabrics and colours, and it can be personalized by the individuals wearing it in such unique ways.
The focus in your own work quite often falls on tailoring and using fine fabrics. Why do you find these two aspects important and how does applying them in designs affect the world of fashion?
When you wear something, it should fit. Even when it’s oversized or exaggerated, there is a way of having it on your body that feels right and it is when tailoring or fitting becomes important.
The focus on fine quality fabrics is simply to encourage the longevity of the pieces; the better the fabric, the longer they will last and keep a good impression.
What was it like to take part in this year’s Paris Fashion Week?
It was all so fast! We decided to do a pop-up presentation as a sort of renegade act, and in doing so it was unexpected and surprisingly well-received. So many editors approached my team and boasted at how brave and cool it was.
I’m sure similar things have been done, but I think because it’s so infrequent, it made a cool impression, which was the point. The models I ended up using were all fantastic and so kind – and they were all scouted over Instagram!
What was the most eccentric aspect from the runway for SS18 Men Collection?
The most eccentric aspect was the whole act itself: we set up right outside of Palais de Tokyo in between two shows taking place inside and were able to take advantage of the guests arriving and leaving, as well as the street style photographers during and in-between.
Some of the trends seen on the catwalk bring the attention to the waist. Why do you think longline outerwear and medium length jackets dominated part of the show and do you think it was perceived as stylish when it comes to a Spring/Summer collection?
I think because weather during the seasons is becoming so sifted and extreme (not to sound dramatic), the longline outwear is serving a technical as well as an aesthetic purpose; it gives the wearer proportions to play with and layering too. I think people appreciate the marriage between classic and new lengths, as it feels fresh and interesting.
How would you describe the appearance of stripes alongside the camouflage patterns, which are more common for Autumn/Winter fashion runway choice?
I love it! I feel like the line between the seasons is becoming blurred, and the direction of personal choice and style is taking ownership and it’s more authentic to the way people wear things “in real life”.
What is your opinion on the vivid outfits which showcased one colour from head to toe? How would you compare them to the extravagant art and graffiti that dominated the fabrics of some of the SS18 menswear?
I am a little bit biased because for myself I always love a good monochromatic look. When it’s done right, it can be chic and strong. It also acts as a nice contrast to the bolder looks, which can be a nice intermission.
Your own work is often quite detailed and artistic, especially when it comes to youth culture. How do you think art is relevant to fashion and why should it be showcased in designs?
Art and current events are two of the most influential things when it comes to fashion design. Everything that happens in the world affects everything else, and so by nature of that, the fashion industry is influenced; politics, pop-culture, history etc. they define the mood of the seasons, the colours, the lengths and the personal identities that project them.
Art influences fashion in the same sense as art is often (if not always) influenced by current events and pop-culture.
What was your favourite part of the Paris Fashion Week?
My favourite part of the Paris Fashion Week was being able to be in a city buzzing with excitement. Also, networking with some of the friendliest people I’ve met in a while. It was really refreshing.
In your opinion what played the most important role in the success of the Spring/Summer 2018 collection?
The authenticity of it played a very large role. I didn’t try to push for too much extravagance; I want my label to feel real and genuine, and I think that was conveyed in the pop-up presentation in Paris by the styling and the model choices.
The collection set some new trends for the world of fashion declaring creativity and originality for menswear. In your opinion, what was the overall message it sent and how do you think the audience perceived the showcased menswear?
I like to think that the collection tried to convey that menswear can push boundaries without being incredibly abstract or particularly “loud” in a commercial sense. Feedback from editors and stylists who were there (and even afterwards, in follow up) seemed to reflect that it was perceived that way, too.
Do you think fashion photographs successfully capture the essence of designs? How is viewing the pieces live different to observing the trends through images of the menswear?
I think fashion photographers do an amazing job at conveying the mood and the feeling of designs hut it is never as personal and meaningful as seeing them in person. People are physical and they need to see and feel fabric to understand the value of something – especially for more independent brands.