The Maagi swimwear was one of my favorite runways from the larger Colombian lines.
The Maagi swimwear was one of my favorite runways from the larger Colombian lines.
Since I returned from Colombia Moda with over 8,000 photos – I am going to post some of the collections here starting with Ipanema by Paradizia
Ipanema by Paradizia
The designer with the models at the end of the show
Loss of American manufacturing and textiles to India, Bangladesh and Thailand
As a resident of Danville, Virginia, the former home of Dan River Mills, which was one of the largest textile mills in the United States, I can attest to the importance of domestic textile production. As we found in 2006, with the closure of the mill, it has an immense impact on local economics, culture and politics. (Since the closure of the mill, our county in Virginia has had one of the highest unemployment rates in the USA.)
The worst thing about Danville’s woes; we aren’t alone – skilled manufacturing jobs have disappeared from the American landscape, leaving unemployment, poverty and hardship in its wake.
How does this relate to Colombia Moda?
So with this background in mind – I set off to interview some of the smaller Colombian companies.
GlobalTex with Psique
I didn’t look for GlobalTex – Walberth Montoya of GlobalTex struck up a conversation with me as I walked out of the administrative offices of Colombia Moda with my new press pass around my neck. Secondly, GlobalTex isn’t technically a Colombian product – it’s a Chinese one, with offices in Bogotá, Colombia. But these distinctions fall to the side – after talking to both Sr. Montoyan and Ronald Frajales Bedoya of Psique.
GlobalTex is an industrial equipment company that supplies irons, sewing machines and all of the other machinery used for clothing manufacture. This equipment is imported from China, but differs distinctly from other industrial sewing machines (etc) in that it has been specially designed for use by disabled people. Sewing machines for example are set into tables designed to be wider than normal, and the proper height, with easy to reach instruments for people in wheelchairs or otherwise limited mobility. The foot pedals have been replaced with just a few buttons and knobs. As industrial machines, the y have already been streamlined (so there aren’t fifty stitch options like the average home sewer.) This makes the machinery easy to use even with people with learning disabilities, or emotional/ mental limitations.
Other machinery has been adapted for use by people missing fingers or even arms or other disabilities. This is particularly important in a region like Colombia that suffers from a devastating civil war that disproportionately affects the poorer residents, as well as limited pre-natal and post-natal services for any of the poorer or more rural areas of the country.
GlobalTex has partnered with the Psique Fundacion, which is an organization dedicated to assisting people with chronic illnesses or disability to lead full and normal lives. The organization helps disabled people find resources, gain access to rehabilitative therapies and to join the workforce as productive and self-sufficient members of society. This may not sound like a big thing – but in a moderate sized nation like Colombia with a vast gulf between rich and poor, the social network for supporting people with disabilities or mental illness is not as comprehensive as some nations.
Hot topic at home
Even in the USA, where depending on your political leanings, disability services such as social security/ ‘workfare’ etc. are polarized into being either critically insufficient or unnecessary, wasteful spending, programs similar to this one are essential for the emotional well-being of this vulnerable population.
GlobalTex (and Psique), in turn can supply much of the equipment and labor force for other Colombian companies in the textile industry.
Made in Colombia
Drews is an exclusively male line of underwear. This Medellin-based company by the designer who goes simply by Drew, prides itself on the innovative and elegance of their pieces. The designer explained that it is the characteristic seaming of the garments which give each piece its support, and comfort while being an attractive option for consumers.
Calle 30 No 75 – 16
The company is coming up on its fourteenth year – and as it looks to expand its brand to overseas markets – it’s 100% Colombian made. All of the designs, the models, and all of the clothing, even the fabric itself is made in Colombia, right here in Medellin.
Tentacion is a three-year old Medellin company founded by Luis Alejandro Diaz Rua. Prior to his foray into fashion, Sr. Diaz reports that he did a wide variety of jobs to make ends meet, including at one point, selling couches and housewares.
He reports that his inspiration for the creation of the lingerie, swimwear and fitness line was his mother, and his female friends. It was based on their conversations regarding the lack of moderately priced lingerie. (Lingerie by the popular lines like Leonisa are quite pricey here). He also reported that women were seeking sexier, glamorous yet comfortable options.
Like Drew, Tentacion is entirely a Colombian operation, from the designers, models and garment construction, complete with the use of Colombian fabrics.
I wish all three of these companies the best of luck – and hope that American companies can find inspiration to revitalize our own industry at home.
Additional References and Resources
“The rise and fall of Dan River Mills” – WSLS 10 report
“Follow your labels” – a series by Kelsey Timmerman at the Christian Science Monitor that follows overseas garment construction.
DAV – Disabled American Veterans – to help people at home.
Poverty in America series – NBC written series on the growing poverty in the USA, and lack of hope for future employment.
The hopeless (homeless) generation – Today’s youth left behind, interview with homeless young adults in Las Vegas, NV
I had hoped to publish this, along with a series of articles over at Examiner.com – but the administrators tell me there is little interest in anything Colombian. I beg to differ, which is why I am publishing it here – even if it differs from our usual medical topics, so please let me know if you enjoy these glimpses into Colombian life.
Colombia Moda is the Colombian version of fashion week. While it escapes the notice of most North Americans; it shouldn’t. Colombia Moda is more than just runways, lovey models and concept collections. Colombia Moda is an event that gives context to many of the Latin American beauty ideals. This week, while attending Colombia Moda, we will be talking about emerging plastic surgery trends and their relationship to fashion, but as part of a series of articles, we will also be discussing other reasons why Americans should pay attention to a “fashion show” in Medellin, Colombia.
Beyond pretty clothes, ColombiaModa is also a meeting of the biggest minds in fashion and textiles. The show itself brings in 137.7 million dollars to Colombia, which has the fourth largest economy in Latin America (behind population giants like Brazil and Mexico). More importantly, it brings industry leaders, in design, clothing manufacturing and textiles from around the world.
Clothing construction and textiles are the heart of this conference, and what Americans should really take notice of. Other Americans have, like the founder of American Apparel, who is speaking here later this week. It’s about “reshoring” as it was called during a lecture by a professor of FIT.
Reshoring is the fashion industry’s term for moving clothing production back to the Americas; both north and south. It’s an idea that is gaining ground in the textile industry in the aftermath of several disastrous fires in Bangladeshi clothing factories that have highlighted the poor working conditions, as well as increasing bureaucratic restrictions and rising minimal wages in these countries. China alone accounts for 38% of all clothing purchased in the United States.
Delays and long production timelines due to shipping and production issues also favor continental garment fabrication. This along with a transition to more frequent fashion lines, called “short lines” with new fashions being released seven or more times a year, instead of the traditional 2 to 4, heralds increased economic opportunities for companies willing to ‘re-shore’ their production lines from India, China, Vietnam, Bangladesh or other overseas areas to the Americas. But where?
Colombia appears poised to take the market, but the United States shouldn’t sit back and just watch. It’s an opportunity to bring jobs back to the Americas – all of the Americas, and it shouldn’t be ignored.
In the next article, we will present several Colombia companies that have done just that.
For more about my week as a fashion photographer, click here.
I’ll be publishing some more photos over the next week, as I sort through the over 8,000 images I collected during my short stint as a fashion photographer – but the standout collection belonged to the fashion design students at Universidad Pontificia Bolivariana here in Medellin, Colombia.
Even the most fantastical designs presented have a plethora of fine detailing and seeming. It is this use of seaming, (and actual sewing techniques) more than fabric choice, use of color or other factors that really makes this collection stand apart from the rest of the runways at Colombia Moda.
It’s in the details..
This attention to detailing also united the different designers and design concepts within the collection – from the plastic ‘raincoat’ jackets, to the corseted black matching his and hers outfits – , the green and white dress princess seamed dress with flared hem and cape sleeves.. The Peter Pan blouse*..
It’s a welcome change from so many designs that rely on cheap accessories or flashy fabrics to carry the look. While these designs certainly benefitted from the lovely (and ethereal – in the case of some of the white outfits) fabrics – the designs could stand without them. Of course, this is the difference between high couture design and mass market items. Mass marketed cheap cotton jersey dresses at Wal-mart (or even the Mall) aren’t going to have this level of detail..
I have some great shots of the models with the designers, which I will add soon. (It’s been a long couple of days – and I can no longer keep my eyes open.
*It’s been over 20 years since I took a few costume studies classes at Dalhousie so some of the exact terminology is hidden in the far recesses of my brain.. But I haven’t forgotten what I like..
As a nurse, and a writer who mainly covers medicine and surgery – I was a bit nervous when I embarked on the Colombia Moda project. However, with fashion and beauty playing such a large role in Medellin (and other cities in Colombia), I thought it would be a huge mistake not to cover this event.
So far – it’s been wonderful – and my fellow writers and photographers have been particularly so. I was worried with my lack of fashion photography background/ experience that the other prensa (press) at the event would be daunting, or intimidating.
But they haven’t been – they have been friendly, nice and amazingly helpful. Before the first runway – there they were – scooting over so my additional photographer (Matt Rines) and I would have a good view of the runway – and giving us tips on using the best camera setting to capture images in this sort of setting.
Watching the professional photographers is a little awe-inspiring.. Since we are sitting shoulder-to-shoulder (and even closer sometimes!), I can see their photos almost at the moment the shot is taken (on the digital display), and these guys are just amazing! The clarity, the vision (to see that it’s going to be a good shot) is just phenomenal. I was actually sucking in my breath – a couple times as I glanced at some of my neighbors photos while we waited for the next model to come out..
International Press but little American representation
The majority of the journalists are from Colombia (InFashion, Caracol, El Colombiano and just about every Colombian magazine/ paper you can think of) but I have seen journalists from Panama, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and even Australia. Matt and I haven’t seen any other press from the United States yet – but somehow that doesn’t surprise me. (When I was pitching this story to two different news outlets – both said that readers weren’t interested in stories about Colombia.)
But for my readers here – I’d like to get closer, and get some more stories about the people who shoot the photos.
More than Colombian News
But this isn’t a story about Colombia, really. It’s more of a story about fashion, beauty and all that goes with. Fashion is international – and this event certainly proves that. One of the big focuses this year – is trying to “reshore” the clothing construction industry as one of this year’s lecturers from the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) explained.
It’s no longer cheaper, or easier to have clothing made in Bangladesh, India or China.. And that (previous) cheapness came with other complications – like long wait times, and a lot of bureaucratic headaches for designers and retailers.. Relocating these industries to the Americas is a boon for everyone. Especially now that designers and retailers are changing their selling models – to embrace 7 or more lines a year “short lines” versus the traditional 2 to 4 lines. But we’ll talk about that later – it’s almost time for the next runway to start!
If you want to see more images by some of the photographers I have met:
LookatU – Paolo Trujillo
Julian Carvajal – (I was peeking over his shoulder at times – he’s a fantastic photographer).
Style Street – fashion + photography
Estudio 8A – photographer, Jorge Ochoa from Argentina
John Drews – highlights some of the work of Medellin-based John Erick Velasquez M.
What the runway looks like from behind the lens
As for me – I am working on several articles for other outlets – so I will post more information, and links when they are done. For the time being, you can follow my Colombia Moda twitter feed: K. Eckland for up-to-date photos and news.
Fashion + Beauty are intrinsically tied together. Sometimes it’s hard to tell where one ends and the other begins… (This is the more in-depth discussion from an article published on Examiner.com)
Fashion as the evolution of beauty
Fashion is the evolutionary arm of our concepts of Beauty.. While ad campaigns talk about ‘timeless beauty”, in reality, the standards of beauty are constantly evolving, changing, expanding.. This has occurred throughout recorded history.. with dramatic examples of idealized beauty in ancient Rome, feudal Japan, China and the noble houses of Europe. With that in mind – the evolution of beauty over time has more impact on (mainly) women, but also economics, surgery and technology.
Changing and conforming to beauty ideals throughout time
Since the earliest of times, we’ve used cosmetics, clothing, and even surgery (yes, surgery) to change our looks to conform to the beauty standards of that time/ place/ culture. With the advent of the internet age, ‘global beauty’ is the concept that cultural differences in beauty ideals are breaking down and becoming enmeshed into a single universal ideal.. While my fellow writers could (and have written) millions of words on the sociological and psychological aspects of attempting to fit into a ‘beauty ideal’ – I am not interested in discussing the ethics, moral or personal beliefs of independent individuals nor shall I attempt to impose those opinions on readers.. What I want to know, and to see – (and be able to watch and identify) as these beauty ideals morph and change.
So – I am heading to fashion week 2013 here in Medellin with high hopes.. Medellin has long been a leader in fashion, beauty and plastic surgery – and I want to see what’s trending now – and what’s coming next. Not so much interested in the styles of the clothes, as I am, in the bodies beneath the clothes, and how the clothes showcase or encase certain areas of the bodies.. Is the focus on hips and buttocks this year, or is it swan-like necks and slim backs? High rounded breasts or sleek arms and shoulders?
A brief history of Fashion (and Beauty)
In the last century alone – we’ve seen dramatic sweeping changes in beauty ideals.. From the corseted Gibson Girl with her sweeping locks to the androgynous flat chested flappers with eton crops – the pendulum of beauty swings bag and forth..
As flappers out grew their short locks, styles in the 1930’s featured more natural but subdued curves.. to the mannish shoulders and aggressive features of our 1940’s gals.. Back to the softly overblown 1950’s pin-ups.. as the swinging sixties came in – so did Twiggy.. slim boy-like 70’s to anorexic 80’s with icons like Jane Fonda.. The 90’s heralded the rise of J. Lo, and the voluptuous figure once more.. But what comes next?
We’re heading off to Colombia Moda 2013 this month to see if we can spot the latest trends in beauty (and plastic surgery)
The Gibson Girl – a (Virginia native like myself)