How do you de­fine Span­ish fash­ion?

Charo Izquierdo, cur­rent direc­tor of Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week in Madrid and of var­i­ous shows and events, has had a long and pres­ti­gious ca­reer—both in Spain and in­ter­na­tion­ally—in the world of com­mu­ni­ca­tion, fash­ion and beauty.

M Style - - In The First Person -

If this ar­ti­cle were an In­sta­gram Story, the an­swer would come in the form of a giant store on any sig­nif­i­cant shop­ping street around the world, with a neon cap­tion and a sin­gle name: Zara. If this ques­tion were posed to in­ter­na­tional fash­ion de­sign stu­dents, the an­swer would be a pho­to­graph of a haute cou­ture de­sign by Ba­len­ci­aga. And yet, al­though both of these an­swers are fit­ting and ac­cu­rate, the truth is that the stars of Span­ish fash­ion can’t be eas­ily con­densed and sum­marised in one list, or even two—un­like the Ten Com­mand­ments. Span­ish fash­ion is a col­lec­tion of a great wealth of sto­ries, many of them un­told and un­heard, that are full of cre­ativ­ity, pas­sion and in many cases suc­cess.

The fash­ion in­dus­try cur­rently ac­counts for nearly three per cent of the Span­ish GDP. To­day, Spain’s great­est fash­ion groups and com­pa­nies are mak­ing the ‘Span­ish brand’ known around the world—and in the fash­ion in­dus­try, they find the very best thread with which to weave their iden­tity. This isn’t just a me­taphor, a lit­er­ary anal­ogy or wish­ful think­ing; it’s a fact. As is this statis­tic: the ex­ports of the Span­ish cloth­ing sec­tor were worth 12.182 bil­lion eu­ros in 2017, ac­cord­ing to FEDE­COM.

It’s also a fact that Spain is a cre­ative coun­try. A few days ago some­one asked me what I thought was the best part of Span­ish fash­ion, and that’s what I told them. How­ever, when they asked me about the worst as­pect of our coun­try, I said it was the lack of self-es­teem: a low sense of worth, which prop­a­gates the idea that any­thing good must come from be­yond our bor­ders. For­tu­nately, ‘Made in Spain’ prod­ucts are now ac­quir­ing more value, or at least the value they de­serve by virtue of their qual­ity. At re­cent in­ter­na­tional footwear shows, for ex­am­ple, the ‘Made in Spain’ distinc­tion has been strik­ingly vis­i­ble at var­i­ous stands. It’s an is­sue of sales be­ing syn­ony­mous with qual­ity, which is some­thing that’s also rel­e­vant when it comes to bridal fash­ion, for in­stance. In this in­dus­try, our coun­try is sec­ond in the world in terms of sales vol­ume, but first in terms of qual­ity. Not to men­tion the Span­ish chil­dren’s fash­ion in­dus­try, which is fa­mous for dress­ing the youngest gen­er­a­tion of in­ter­na­tional royal fam­i­lies.

I’ve in­ten­tion­ally left this next part for last: Span­ish cre­ators—the past, present and fu­ture par­tic­i­pants at IFEMA (the Trade Fair In­sti­tu­tion of Madrid) fash­ion weeks. I’ve done so be­cause I know that this as­pect of the fash­ion in­dus­try is eclec­tic, and not eas­ily de­fined. It has an in­valu­able va­ri­ety and en­com­passes dif­fer­ent busi­ness mod­els, from those that are closely tied to the in­dus­try to the most in­de­pen­dent, and those whose pro­duc­tion is most sim­i­lar to cou­ture. If I were to stick to the ones that have pre­sented on the run­ways over the past few years at IFEMA’s Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week, I could say that they’re the man­i­fes­ta­tion of what I just ex­plained—of qual­ity and cre­ativ­ity. There are more and more cre­ators with their own stores (some ex­clu­sively on­line) and many are in­creas­ingly ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a kind of busi­ness that’s linked to the li­cens­ing of var­i­ous prod­ucts, in which a de­signer name adds value. Our de­sign­ers dress global celebri­ties and ap­pear on the red car­pet; they’re es­sen­tial for cer­tain mem­bers of the ‘it’ crowd and even our queen, who is our best am­bas­sador. They’re ob­jects of de­sire; they’re glam­our and they’re busi­ness. Mo­ and pro­moted by the As­so­ci­a­tion of Span­ish Fash­ion De­sign­ers (ACME). in 2016 the As­so­ci­a­tion’s mem­bers con­trib­uted 442 mil­lion eu­ros in sales and 5,800 jobs to the Span­ish econ­omy. IFEMA has spent years nur­tur­ing through its fa­cil­i­ties and fash­ion shows. To­day I can say that, as the direc­tor of Mercedes-Benz Fash­ion Week and other fash­ion and life­style events at IFEMA, my goal is to bal­ance and syn­chro­nise (to avoid us­ing the trite term ‘syn­er­gise’) the var­i­ous sub­sec­tors of the huge in­dus­try that is Span­ish fash­ion, in or­der to help pro­mote busi­ness at the na­tional and in­ter­na­tional level. That said, we need so­ci­ety at large—in­sti­tu­tions, lo­cal and cen­tral gov­ern­ments and, of course, the me­dia—to be con­scious of the ben­e­fits of con­sum­ing Span­ish fash­ion and footwear. I am cer­tain that if we truly want to achieve this, we can.

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