In Conversation: García Bello Introduce Us to The Up-Cycling Collective
Juliana Garcia Bello is the founder of the Argentinean brand that has her name, and she invites us to her intimate creative universe. The reason why Juliana launched a sustainable brand and using the up-cycling technique is intertwined with her origins since her grandmother, Co-Founder and inspiration, showed her the possibilities of making fashion through up-cycling.
This shared family value is reflected in this project, inspired by the endless search for identity and basing its collections on stories, memories and lived reflections. Juliana creates to share and include others, that is why her collections are genderless. But, on the other hand, she also designs for those who are sensitive to art, detail-oriented, pragmatic and above all aware of the climate crisis.
At the end of 2016, I was living in La Plata, Argentina at my grandparents' house. At that time, I had already finished my career as a Fashion Designer and a postgraduate degree in Sportswear at the FADU-UBA (Faculty of Architecture, Design and Urbanism, University of Buenos Aires). During that year I spent many afternoons with my grandmother, observing her daily life that I had not experienced until then.
Therefore, I proposed to my grandmother Dora start a collection or project together. My grandmother is a dressmaker and supra recycler by nature (which it's a recycled or up-cycling technique that transforms discarded objects by creating new ones with a new purpose). She made a large part of my childhood clothes using discarded material, this gesture was the one that inspired our work. We began to deconstruct and rethink the garments that had been donated to us by neighbours, generating typologies, moulding and up-cycling production systems that founded the brand.
2- When you talk about your inspiration, you talk about transit stories, could you explain this concept further?
The project is inspired by my own stories, memories, events, moments that I need to recover in order to reflect or simply share with others.
"The search for permanent identity," is called.
Surely that search is related on the one hand because I was born and raised in Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. I shared my 'Fueguina' life with my mother and my sister, the rest of my relationships were from different parts of Argentina, a characteristic of the industrial pole. And on the other hand, a very deep relationship with my maternal family "from the North" in La Plata, land of immigrants. With that spirit that I have inherited, I ask myself:
Who Am I? About us? Who Are We With? Who Are They?
3- Are there other inspirations to create the collections?
The garments we received were donations and belonged to a person. These garments have a story. They have a footprint that talks about their life and cycle. That's also part of our inspiration.
4- Are the collections released every season?
We have a calendar to launch our new products, most of the time these dates are adapted to the seasons as we participate in different international events that follow this schedule. We work with LABS, these are labs where we can do research and develop specific production systems, patterns, and more.
5- What is the imaginary of Garcia Bello's consumer?
Who wears GARCIA BELLO are sensitive people. These people are interested in fashion but also in art. They are detailed and pragmatic, and they also have an interest in the environment. Our consumer is a person that it's willing to invest in high-quality pieces.
6- Besides Garcia Bello being a sustainable brand, Why is part of your brand values to create genderless collections?
This is one of our values because since the beginning our goal was to design genderless pieces.
'We believe in inclusion'
7- Could you explain us more in depth the two types of zero-waste moulding patterns, in which the numbered pieces you create are built?
The zero-waste concept is transversal to our entire production system. Working with the wasted garments of our neighbours, with textiles and items that may be seen as garbage, identifies us not only with supra recycling but also with zero-waste.
Once we retrieve that material, we select and store it. We look for the way that this garment is used in its entirety, valuing what was received. We have two ways of approaching pattern making, on the one hand, a pattern that
It deconstructs garments and, on the other hand, mouldings that adapt to cloth or roll textiles using 100 per cent material.
8- How do you coordinate the creation and production of these collections between Argentina and Holland?
Our products are mainly produced in our atelier in Arnhem, Holland. Literally, our living is our workspace, modular, adaptable, small, simple, organised and with all that is necessary to make the garments. At the moment, we have in Argentina a small quantity of stock of the 'Encuentro' collection that we presented at the BAF WEEK (Buenos Aires, Fashion Week)
9- What is Garcia Bello's challenge as a sustainable brand in relation to fashion brands that overproduce collections?
We seek to have a small production with typologies that are repeated each season in order to redesign these items. Thinking about functionality and durability. As well as we are developing a collection in collaboration with a local brand. Developing up-cycling products from discarded materials such as recycled pet rain jackets that become an accessory.
10- What has been your participation in Fashion Open Studio, in collaboration with the British Council during the United Nations conference on Climate Change COP 26?
We were selected by Fashion Revolution, along with 9 other international projects, to participate in the Fashion Open Studio. Our proposal is called CASA x GARCIA BELLO, it consists of a documentary film that tells about our history, values and processes. This video was presented within the framework of Design week at the V&A Museum on September 25th. In this event, we also share an open-source, online and live workshop with other Latin American projects that belong to the Supra collective.
11- How do you consider that the 'Digital World' is connected with Garcia Bello's signature?
We are interested in various aspects of the digital world. On the one hand, we use online participation, in order to continue growing and sharing our work with different colleagues, organisations, competitions and fashion events. On the other hand, with regard to internal work, during the pandemic we were able to take advantage of digital tools, speeding up remote work with our colleagues both in Argentina and in the rest of the world.
In our processes, we work on a hybrid between digital and handmade.
We make digital moulding and 3D prototypes that allow multiple options in our designs and save energy.
12- What Latin American fashion can offer to the world?
'Latin American designers can offer a different look at fashion. Other aesthetics and other forms. Even diverse and original working methods.'
13- In your opinion, Why is sustainability important today?
I think it is important to think about the sustainable fashion industry. We all already know that with this rate of production and consumption it is unfeasible in the future. Sustainability in the fashion industry is important to be able to rethink the way it is produced. Textile overproduction generates a visible deterioration in the environment. In addition, more is produced than is consumed, generating waste. For example, the mountains of discarded clothing in low-income countries.