As usual, the sun was shining on the 25,000 visitors at 080 Barcelona Fashion, which held its 24th edition at the colourful Recinte Modernista de Sant Pau and yacht-lined Marina Vela last week. But it wasn’t all about fun in the sun: although designers were presenting Spring/Summer collections, there was a distinctly more serious mood on the runways this season.
Overall, colours were darker, fabrics heavier, less skin was on show (excepting the swimwear brands, of course), and a surprising number of coats appeared on the catwalk. Even Brain & Beast toned down its usually riotous use of colour, pattern and slogans to a more sombre palette and walked away with the National 080 Award for Best Collection in the process. There were certainly some thoughtful messages being conveyed and a very strong focus on sustainability: in fact, 080 says that this was their most sustainable season to date.
Mans Concept & Menswear, one of our favourites at 080, graduated to the main catwalk category, having won the 080 National Award to Emerging Design consecutively for the past three seasons. For AW19, young designer Jaime Álvarez Pérez treated us to a rainbow of hues inspired by India but demonstrated a new level of sophistication with Night in Vienna, an elegant collection where silk, sheer organza and guipure were effortlessly combined with classic tailoring fabrics. Black, grey, navy and off-white dominated, interspersed with his signature use of unexpected colour, from lemon to oxblood and coral. We certainly expect to see Pérez showing on international catwalks before too long.
As one brand becomes more established, the doors open for newer ones to emerge. The Award to Emerging Design was jointly snapped by two designers showing for the first time: Sonia Carrasco and Eñaut Barruetabena.
Carrasco trained at Central Saint Martins, was shortlisted for the LMVH prize and has worked with luxury brands like Alexander McQueen and Céline, so it’s no surprise that her eponymous womenswear line is attracting attention. She is also committed to the environment. Her intriguingly titled 33,394759,-124.969482 collection is named after the coordinates of the plastic island in the Pacific Ocean. “Every time a new collection is created, a problem or a wound of our planet will be highlighted,” she states. Carrasco works with a combination of 100% organic fabrics and recycled materials, such as nylon produced from plastic bottles, but it doesn’t stop there: she uses 100% organic packaging and even the labels are made from garment waste to help reduce their carbon footprint.
Even though it was his first time showing on the catwalk here, Barruetabena is no stranger to 080, having previously won the Rec0/080 emerging design contest and exhibited his menswear brand Eñaut at the event’s pop up galleries. Influenced by architecture, his designs are based on pattern and form, and are predominantly black, although he likes to introduce another colour into each collection – this time burgundy. His collection Newfoundland was inspired by the Sixteenth Century Basque whalers who landed on the desolate coasts of Canada. Eñaut translates the aesthetic of the weather-beaten sailors to modern-day men via a combination of technical and fluid fabrics.
As well as emerging and established Spanish brands, for the second season running, 080 invited a selection of international designers to participate in the event, with the aim of “establishing Barcelona as a global hub of fashion and trends”. This edition included the New York-based Nicholas K, a label dedicated to producing timeless fashions that “harmoniously co-exist with the environment”, whether that means employing ethical work practices or advocating supply chain transparency. Textiles, such as alpaca, organic cotton, linen, silk and vegetable-tanned leather are sustainably sourced in Peru, India and Hong Kong and Nicholas K is also a fur-free brand.
Argentinian Romina Cardillo created sustainable menswear line Grupo 134 in 2006, before founding vegan brand Nous Étudions in 2013. Hers was a show of two halves: firstly, she presented a preview of her SS20 collection ahead of showing at Paris Fashion Week, and secondly, a capsule collection with Nike. The former, which used scraps for 60% of the fabrics, was inspired by the “arid and textured soils of planet Earth”, resulting in a neutral palette. In contrast, the collaboration with Nike was full of bold colour and took its cue from “space nature, zero gravity and the feeling of floating”, with the purpose of creating a “new outlook on timeless and functional future garments.”
With so many designers, both established and emerging, focusing on reducing fashion’s impact on the environment, perhaps the future is starting to look brighter and sunnier after all. Let’s hope that small steps combine to create giant leaps.
words. Huma Humayun