Who are you?
My name is Guido Vera, I am from Punta Arenas, Chile. Born and raised in Patagonia. I came to live in Santiago at the age of 17 to study communications since I had always liked this area as a way of promoting what really interested me which is fashion.
When I turned 20 I went to London and had the chance to work in the fashion industry from the side of communications, it was here when I realized that what I was most passionate about, even from when I was a child, was the idea of being able to create my own line of clothing, a collection with a new vision. At this time traditional media began to lose strength while digital media emerged with much potential, I felt like this transition came to me as a ring because it allowed us all to be able to communicate personally. Suddenly it was possible to diversify tastes regarding fashion beyond the mainstream.
I've always had an understanding regarding the textile industry, part of the fashion industry, on how polluting it was and how negatively it impacted the planet; water pollution, excess waste, chemicals, and all these animal skins... It all made a lot of noise to me that something I liked, carried so much suffering within. This whole theme with exotic animals, which in some cases still remains as a synonym for elegance, high quality and price in some brands and fashion houses, was something I couldn't be on board with. I saw that there was this reality of the fashion industry that was cruel, and although there were people who wanted to make changes, designers talking about sustainability and others, it was very difficult to fight or row against that current when everyone was paddling towards the unsustainable side, raising animals to turn them only and exclusively into luxury products, it is sad, you are deciding for the life of a living being that shares the same space as you on this plane but you are not allowing them to live a quiet life, living only to become a product. I wanted to do things differently.
What are you doing?
I have built a brand that looks for more sustainable and ethical ways to develop responsible fashion. What I am doing today with my brand is breaking the paradigms of what luxury is, the ideas of the feminine and masculine, breaking several schemes of the traditional, and together with all that using a sustainable code.
The first long-lasting recycled product we have taken out in this line were some bags that we designed together with Constanza from “Kawchu Bags”, which she produced with truck wheels, basically working with a material that annually in Chile there are around 1.7 million tons of this material residual and only 17% is recycled. The other collaboration was for a hat that is made with recycled wool from Bellavista Oveja Tomé, which is a factory in the city that has a lot of discontinued material, so we ended up using its scraps to create these hats that somehow come from very old wool that was already there as waste material. So my line goes there, towards the sustainable, what can be composted, and if it includes wool, it is always second-hand, because rather than being part of a vegan line I prefer to offer a sustainable product which reduces waste, using what is already there.
Before they used to make fur with animals because they lasted longer, it was done without taking into account the life of the other living being and without thinking about the side effects of it, it was exploited a lot and in the end, now, we have deeply affected the earth's ecosystems, being the livestock industry one of the most polluting one, and with the fashion industry playing a great role.
So we are looking for new paths, for example, now we are working with a leather that is biodegradable, made from recycled plastics. Much of these materials require technology, one of the materials with which we have come across on the road is synthetic leather, which they call ecological leather but it is not ecological because it is full of chemicals, and obviously it is not that any material is free of chemicals or technology, but I think that technology today offers the possibilities of reducing the amounts of water, of not needing an animal to create long-lasting products, or at least if it lasts much less, the waste could be compostable.
Since we can not continue to allow ourselves a hill of synthetic leather shoes that do not serve more than a year. We should focus on a product that can be biodegradable. And I feel like that's the path I'm focused on now. Currently, my most recent collection has two collaborations that are framed in the zero waste profile that basically does not use new material but we reuse something that already exists which has stopped being used for various reasons, we seek then to give it a new life.
Why do you do it?
I think it is important to look for solutions in the area that you love and are passionate about, from my position I want to make a change and contribute with a more responsible fashion because that is the theme that I have always lived with because all my life I have liked fashion and style in a more conscious way. I don't know if I am interested in educating consumers, great if it happens but I want to make the statement that what was once a luxury is now something else, today we have to use what is already there, recycle, there is a lot of material that is being wasted and today there is even an island of garbage! So, let's take that island of garbage and turn it into textile, I feel that this is a good vision for the future because deep down we are never going to stop dressing, whatever happens, it is fundamental for the human being and many people need it as part of his day to day because it raises your spirits, it gives you identity, it can tell a story of who you are without having to say anything, it is a way of expressing yourself, Art, something as every day as clothing.
I do this because it comes from my desire to be part of a positive change in the way we relate as humans to the planet, I am aware of the climate crisis because I also come from a region where we always talked about global warming, we are close to Antarctica and the ozone hole is in the region itself, so somehow I think that environmental issues were always on my radar because they were encouraged in me since I was very young, being Punta Arenas a very sustainable place, so I've always worked with that concern of wanting to reduce my footprint of the environmental impact from fashion.
In the same way, it is important for me to eliminate the typical stereotypes that "this clothing is for women and this is for men", my line is versatile, anyone can wear it, it has an important cultural content based on the way the Aboriginal people, who were nomads from my region, lived their nomadism, so somehow I try to tell this story of nomadism making it more Neo or Edgy, more of our century, but deep down I try to be inspired by the environment where they lived, I try to express it in the language of the brand, instead of trying to culturally appropriate its tools, since marketing something like this is not right cause it is a culture that does not belong to you. I want to point light in that direction and make that difference since the proposal does not take a literal indigenous reference, it has more to do with one wanting to investigate the inspiration of our ancestors and give them the credit they deserve, which has been eliminated and covered by colonization. So I think that the brand also creates to be able to reach people who are interested in that story, that's why calling pieces with the name of the region or calling some robes like some goddesses in a certain language, arouse the interest of people to investigate something that they don't know, and it's amazing that they can discover that because they see it in a garment.
What is your projection?
I see my brand developing mostly internationally because I feel that the national consumer still lacks an education that provides the interest; I think that the new generations are going to be the first to want to join and contribute to making fashion more responsible because all the older generations are highly educated in retail, so it is very difficult to get there, I think that my way today is to look for the way of producing sustainably in Chile and reaching an international audience in ecological ways as well, avoiding the plane, using the sea, among other practices.
My path is to continue looking for long-term solutions and work in the most ethical way. I am interested in talking about the existence of a responsible fashion industry here in Chile, but we have to create it and we are in it. One does not realize but in the end, the world is so small that the word of mouth resource really works, In a way, I feel that I am already doing it a little and I hope that other people in the future will be inspired and want to do the same, follow the same paths in terms of sustainability, to investigate a little more the materials, to be able to go a little beyond what your country offers you because Chile is a very rich country, it has a lot to offer and I think I am giving everyone a chance to understand what at some point they let go, which are production values.
With the free trade agreement with China, suddenly many sewing shops closed, the brands stopped producing in Chile so I think that with my current plan of production I want to bring this value back, possibly more people will want to do it and we are going to generate a local sewing industry, possibly new materials, new factories, and inventions because deep down here we have the resources, we have very intelligent people, a lot of waste that we could turn into anything, I want to attract people who externally from fashion are dedicated to scientific methods such as generating bio-textiles from wine waste, among other inventions, to broaden the conversation on how to make sustainable fashion. It takes constant passion and awareness, and there is a lot to do for which I will gladly continue to take part.
More about GUIDO VERA in the following link: https://www.instagram.com/guidoveracl/