After graduating with a Master’s degree in menswear design from London College of Fashion in 2017, Carlota Barrera started her eponymous label, swiftly garnering attention from the fashion world. As a queer woman, Barrera approaches menswear through a feminine lens, using tailoring to explore masculinity as well as femininity. She tells Schön!: “The brand’s core purpose has always been the deconstruction of gender norms, naturally leading us over time to explore identities through the language of fluidity.” Designing with this in mind, the brand transitioned into genderless collections, catering to androgynous dressers.
With the brand’s latest collection debuting at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week, Barrera once again solidifies the brand as a force to be reckoned with. The ‘Core Collection’ is comprised of seasonless, genderless, and sustainable garments with relaxed silhouettes and a timeless colour palette.
Can you tell Schön! a bit about yourself and what led you to start your brand, Carlota Barrera?
I’ve always dreamt about creating a platform of expression through clothing, but it felt very intangible as I had no clue how to start. I then studied fashion and tailoring, and I created a collection for my menswear MA in London that enhanced Spanish craftsmanship, merging my heritage and roots with a contemporary approach. I remember showing that collection without any expectations, and suddenly, I was awarded the Vogue Fund in Spain, which sort of illuminated my path.
Why did you decide to make the transition from menswear to genderless collections?
The brand initially took shape as a menswear brand because I was – and am – absolutely obsessed with tailoring and I believed I could create a very personal dialogue from my female gaze. The brand’s core purpose has always been the deconstruction of gender norms, naturally leading us over time to explore identities through the language of fluidity.
As you reflect on your career, how have your design approaches and techniques evolved over time, beyond the changes associated with the transition from menswear?
I think it’s centred on the intricate details and the overall impact our garments have on people. With each collection, we continuously learn about the human body, the comfort, and the emotions that clothing evokes. We consistently strive to improve the fits, refine material selection, harness the emotional resonance of details, and enhance the overall design. It’s a journey of constant evolution with a commitment to creating exceptional garments.
As you look ahead to the future, how do you imagine your work evolving?
We’re dedicated to continually exploring identities, deepening our commitment to fluidity and inclusivity, maintaining an ongoing focus on multidisciplinary collaborations, and fostering open conversations through an ongoing dialogue. The commitment to creating timeless pieces will remain at our core as we continue to honour our craft to make sure our pieces are comfortable, both physically and emotionally.
Your ‘Core Collection’ debuted at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week. Can you share with us the inspiration and creative vision behind this collection?
The beauty of the ‘Core Collection’ is that all its garments have been seen before in another context. Our commitment lies in creating garments that remain relevant today and, just as importantly, in the years to come. From the very first collection, I’ve been carefully curating a selection of timeless pieces from each season, which early on, I called the ‘Core Collection’. This collection has quietly matured in the shadows, but now we’re putting it in the spotlight. We’ve complemented it with a capsule collection of limited edition pieces, where we explored what ‘artisanal’ means to us through the use of deadstock materials and handmade techniques. It’s a true reflection of our ethos and our creative approach to seasonality and timelessness.
How do the chosen colour palettes and silhouettes contribute to the overall theme and create a cohesive aesthetic?
Our colour palette and silhouettes are carefully curated to evoke a sense of timelessness and fluidity, mirroring the brand’s core themes. The neutral colour palette serves as a declaration of timelessness, and the relaxed silhouette mirrors the nonchalant attitude one radiates when they are at ease with their own identity.
How does it feel to have shown this collection at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week?
Showing this collection at 080 Barcelona Fashion Week has been an incredible experience. The organisation team has been exceptional, and we felt well taken care of throughout. Being in Barcelona meant it was the perfect spot for two great collaborations. The first one was with the artist Wekaforé, whose sound performance became an integral part of our show. The second collaboration was with Hereu, a contemporary shoe brand that shares remarkably similar values to ours.
As a Spanish-born designer, how do you feel 080 Barcelona Fashion is helping position Barcelona as a fashion capital?
080 Barcelona Fashion Week serves as a remarkable platform for both emerging and established designers, enabling them to showcase their collections on a global stage. Following our debut experience, it’s evident that the organisation is committed to championing diversity, inclusivity, and sustainability, which I believe are key to maintaining relevance within the fashion industry.