Fashion waste is rapidly becoming a global issue. The industry is the world’s second-largest polluter after oil, and the physical waste produced by the fashion world is mounting. In 2013, the Environmental Protection Agency of the United States estimated that over 15 million tons of textile waste were generated yearly — the number steadily increasing since. But in Spain, two women have started a company to combat this growing problem with a local touch.
Valentina Suárez-Zuloaga and Margarita Ruyra de Andrade are the founders of ES Fascinante, an online boutique specialising in slow, timeless, locally-produced fashion. On their site, they curate an exclusive collection of fashion brands and pieces from hard-to-find designers in Spain, in the process promoting and encouraging local economies and talent.
ES Fascinante has produced two videos to celebrate their collections – the first, a commemoration of the International Day of Dance featuring a range of Spanish dancers, and the second, a homage to Spanish culture and its influence on the pieces featured on ES Fascinante. Schön! speaks to Valentina Suárez-Zuloaga and Margarita Ruyra de Andrade about the videos — which, alongside this photo series, further showcase ES Fascinante’s vast collection currently available for purchase — and the fascinating ethos behind the project.
Let’s talk about these videos. What inspired you to showcase your products in this way?
We believe storytelling is what moves and attracts people’s attention, and video and moving images are the best formats to do so. However, videos need to be short and consistent. Nowadays, engaging somebody’s attention for more than 30 seconds is a nearly impossible mission.
People want to see how products look in real life and on real bodies. Therefore, our models have all types of bodies, professional backgrounds and ages. We believe it’s important to show that the same product can be worn by a girl of 15 or a woman of 60. We don’t follow fashion trends but look for timeless pieces that can potentially be worn all year round.
The video for “Día Internacional de la Danza” is rousing and exciting. How did you decide to organise a dance video like this, and what do you hope viewers take from it?
We recorded this video to celebrate the “International Day of Dance”. We wanted to show that ES Fascinante is not only about fashion but culture, dance and arts. We want to promote the “slow movement” in all its artistic forms. Carla is a professional dancer that practices endless hours to achieve those incredible moves. The same happens with our designers and artists: each piece is produced with time and effort, resulting in fascinating creations.
The second video, focusing on flamenco, is very sunny, natural and fun. Talk a bit about this video and how it came to be.
This video is about our roots and the incredible value of the Spanish culture. We recorded this video in the Galiana Palace, a medieval palace in Toledo, an incredible city an hour away from Madrid. The model appears wearing artisanal clothing from three of our brands and dancing flamenco.
Earlier you mentioned the “slow fashion” movement. For those who are unaware of what that means, tell us a bit about slow fashion in Spain and how it impacts what you stock.
Slow fashion is the movement of designing, creating, and buying quality garments that will last for many years. It encourages slower production schedules, fair wages, lower carbon footprints, and (ideally) zero waste. ES Fascinante supports Spanish talent and the local economy, sustainable designs and meaningful fashion experiences. There is a limited stock to all our items, and part of our catalogue is unique or “made to order” pieces. Our customers have access to hard-to-find, artisanal brands with slow production and creative processes. This works very well with our philosophy of “less but better” and “quality over quantity”.
What makes Spanish slow fashion different when compared to the fashion of neighbouring countries?
It’s different in many ways; the style, aesthetics and techniques could be some of them. It’s sad to say but in Spain, as in many other countries, we are losing antique artisanal techniques that the new generations are not taking over. For example, techniques such as damascene are almost extinct. Most of our designers are trying to keep these artisanal techniques alive [by] applying contemporary designs. They are doing a great job and we want to support them.
How did you first become involved in the Spanish fashion scene?
During my time working in the eCommerce departments of Stella McCartney and Temperley London, I realized how successful English brands were at selling the “Made in Britain” label. I have always been aware of the potential and talent in my country. Even though the “Made in Spain” label is not yet considered a luxury label, many well-known French, Italian and English luxury brands produce in Spain under the “Made in Spain” label.
Over a year ago I started to do some research on small, slow fashion Spanish brands, and I was surprised and excited to find over 100 brands that I fell in love with and which I had never heard of before. Before that, all I knew about Spanish fashion was Inditex and a few other independent designers. Creating ES Fascinante has allowed me to discover that in Spain there is much more than the “fast fashion” giants – there is also a world full of fascinating Spanish Slow fashion brands.
What makes a piece or designer a good “fit” for ES Fascinante?
First of all, it has to be “Made in/by Spain.” The talent and/or place of production need to be Spanish. Secondly, we have to love the design, and ideally, the design should be timeless. We don’t look for what is “fashionable” but for what will still be worn in 10-15 years. Thirdly, the production process needs to be artisanal; we only have high-quality products that are offered in limited quantities. If it’s out of stock, the customer may need to wait to get a new one. We believe everything good in life takes time.
Who is the ideal ES Fascinante customer?
The ideal customer of ES Fascinante is someone who values the design and quality over a logo. We are a no-logo platform. Our customers like and want to buy something special which very few in the world will have. At the same time, we describe ourselves as an “affordable luxury” marketplace – our prices range from 60€ to 3000€. We have a wide range of products and styles, but all of them are “investment” pieces, in opposition to products that are worn-out after a short period of time and create a large amount of waste.
What are the plans for ES Fascinante in the coming months?
We are planning an international expansion through social media and collaborations. We have four new bigger brands coming soon to our platform and many more over the following months. Our catalogue is updated almost every month since some of our products are unique pieces that will never be produced again – so stay tuned!
words. Braden Bjella