Two Designers - One Fashion World
For this article, I teamed up with a dear friend and ex-classmate of mine, Alexis, the creative mind behind the label called Nour De La Garza. Both Instance and Nour de la Garza share similar values and views on fashion and what it means to be a designer in this industry. We talked about why we got into fashion, our experience going to fashion school and what inspired us to turn our passion into a full-time job. You will know a bit more about our creative process and find some useful tips for anyone willing to take a similar career path.
A second article will soon be published on NDLG's website about women entrepreneurs in the fashion industry. Stay tuned!
When did you first know you wanted to be in fashion?
Instance: I always loved fashion design since I was a little girl. I would spend hours drawing clothes for my paper dolls. So, I guess you can say I’ve always known!
Nour De La Garza: I was always attached to a pencil and a piece of paper. However, when I was in fifth grade back in Mexico, my parents had bought me the My Scene fashion computer game. That is when I first created my first fashion brand: A&G “Fashion Galaxy” with my friend Gaby.
Was fashion school your first option?
Instance: No, not at all. I first got a degree in economics and business before I enrolled in fashion school. I wanted to get a “serious” diploma before doing something I actually enjoyed.
Nour De La Garza: No, I actually started as an Art Major and finished with an International Development degree. I always loved fashion and definitely experimented with my style.
Note : Alexis and Maud met at Istituto Marangoni in Milan in 2016.
What did you learn at school that you have applied today?
Instance: Fashion school taught me a lot. I improved my drawing skills and learned how garments are constructed. I also learned how to use digital tools such as photoshop and illustrators, which help me on a daily basis.
Nour De La Garza: I learned a lot in school from choosing the proper materials to what it really takes to create a pattern. I had no idea the amount of details needed to create a perfect fit. Even if it hard, I really recommend learning the basics of pattern making. Another thing that really helped me was some of the drawing techniques they showed us. It really took my illustrations to another level. I did however notice that there is a lack of diversity in fashion that is not even addressed in schools. This inspired me even more to make sure representation was a big part of my fashion brand.
What advice would you give to someone that wants to go to fashion school?
Instance: I would tell them to do some research about the curriculum that the school will provide them in order to be prepared. Many people go to fashion school thinking it’s going to be all about drawing and doing glamorous photoshoots. But you have to be ready to learn so much more than that, like pattern making or how to build a collection that will not only be pretty but also sell. I would also tell them to stick to their personal taste and style no matter what. Some teachers might try to influence you, but it is important to stay true to your personality and creativity.
Nour De La Garza: Start your portfolio… yesterday! Not only will this help you when filling out your application, it will also be the source of a lot of inspiration during school and after. I wish I would have taken some summer courses when I was younger and educated myself in the different positions that exist in the fashion industry.
What inspires you the most?
Instance: I love looking at paintings, old fashion illustrations, movies... You could say my style is a bit “vintage” although I prefer to call it timeless, so I look a lot at what was done in the past and try to revamp it to be more contemporary. I love impressionist and pre-Raphaelite paintings and fashion from the first half of the 20th Century. Also, I look at what people are wearing on the streets so I can reinterpret it my way.
Nour De La Garza: I am constantly taking pictures of everything from fruit, flowers, rusty buildings to embroidery from drapes or a weird cloud in the sky. I also get inspired by museums, architecture and history books. What has a big influence on me are my culturally diverse background (Lebanese but born in Mexico) and the women around me: my friends, sisters, and mom. Also, film, I am particularly into 80’s and 90’s fashion and you can see the influence it has on my work.
What is your creative process?
Instance: I gather images and fabrics that inspire me and create mood boards. They help me better understand where I want to go with the new pieces. I draw many potential garments that I then combine and mix together to reach a final sketch. I also listen to customers’ feedback and make sure my designs are in line with what they want. When I am set on a drawing and it’s clear in my mind what I want it to look like, I meet with my pattern maker who will bring it to life!
Nour De La Garza: Where do I begin? I always start by taking pictures – everyday or everything that catches my eye. I then follow by creating a Mood Board of color, images, sketches and sometimes pieces of nature or even fabric. From there I like to create a little story in my head and the croquis of the woman who inspired the collection. After, I simply play dress-up with the croquis and get some feedback along the way from the different women in my life and take note of the notes from our customers on our previous collections.
There is a real femininity to your works, would you consider yourselves feminists?
Instance: It’s strange because I don’t consider myself a feminist but at the same time I am, in what I stand for and what I do. I just think the word “feminist” is a bit outdated and has a bad connotation. I guess as a woman entrepreneur, you have to be a feminist, don’t you?
Nour De La Garza: Yes, In the sense that all human beings deserve to be treated equally.
How do you want women to feel when wearing your clothes?
Instance: I want women to feel beautiful AND comfortable. And I want them to feel that they are wearing something as unique as themselves. I want them to feel the quality and craftsmanship behind each garment. I want them to feel special.
Nour De La Garza: Happy, confident and comfortable. Our goal is to create pieces that can stand alone or paired up with anything else in your closet to give it a unique sense of personality. You are the art piece; our clothing is the frame.
There’s so much pressure for designers to come with a collection season after season. Is it something you feel pressured with?
Instance: No not at all. Instance is a slow fashion brand, which also means we do not really care about seasons and do not push consumers to buy new things over and over again. Our clothes are meant to last in time and in style, which is also why some of our pieces are part of the permanent collection and are available throughout the seasons. Even Gucci has announced that it would not follow the imposed fashion week calendar anymore!
Nour De La Garza: Nope. Nour De La Garza is dedicated to sustainability and a big believer in the #slowfashion movement. That is why we created seasonless collections that can easily translate into any trend.