We Believe in Willy Chavarria
Baggy denim and wide legged trousers, with shiny black patent leather shoes as the show's prominent motif— making for a clear reflection of oneself, even when looking downwards, the designer's direct reminder to believe in the figure staring back. There was something subtle and sweet about it all— his agressive aesthetic as still so sensory, so special, wholly nostalgic and also all-inclusive. Chavarria's designs create a diverse, cerebral dialogue— and we got a chance to chat with him about this.
WC So much of the brand DNA is about social justice, love and human equality. This show has really helped to tell the story. With this political climate, if you’re not paying attention to politics and the things that are going in the world right now then you better be doing something else that’s important. Our first show happened soon after the new administration was elected so there was a strong message of resistance.
In September so many shows were angry and they were just riding on that resistance, which is important, but it was often used as an easy out. I saw a lot of feminist cutesy t-shirts and they have no idea what it means. When it's meaningful it's great, but then some will ride it but disregard it all when the message isn’t "trendy" anymore. It seems almost emotionless.
As a designer and as an artist when something becomes a trend, it's an immediate turn off. Seeing women’s rights and gay rights become almost trends and seeing people riding that to get on board. Lucky for us I think it just our DNA as a brand, that will be at the foundation of what we do. It's always going to be important to us to protect human rights. There’s this idea in fashion where you always have to be selling something that is inspiring, you have to make people feel positive in a way. But like fuck it, it's a negative vibe right now so I’m gonna embrace it and where we come off as positive is embracing the realness of it. All of our models are like real people, they aren’t a stereotypical form of beauty.
When you were saying real people, it's interesting because I feel like some people have marketed on that movement and some agencies started to fetishizing people. But street casting is so important because it is REAL people.
I speak about this with my team all the time. I think that it is important that we are not exploiting people. The philosophy is that we are giving people a platform to feature themselves and show themselves as beautiful. For example we have some guys in the show that are Mexican gang members and I think it’s important to have them in there because they represent a culture in the U.S that is kind of a product of their own discrimination.
It’s really cool— because something that I’ve seen happen is that there’s this misinterpretation. Where people who do street casting or talk about minorities and discrimination do an affordable line where they downgrade their clothing to do that. It feels like you’re highlighting those people and not just fetishizing them for your clothing. I think that’s so important….you’re highlighting them and not just using them to make people feel better about themselves.
Our industry has been offset in the other direction for so long. I don't have a single problem just casting people of color, I feel like it's a nice balance to what we’ve been seeing forever. And in the clothing I designed it’s very much about being wearable and being real. The people are cast and dressed according to what they would actually wear. And I know you see that a lot, higher fashion brands will sometimes cast someone and they would never wear that.
And then it just feels like they’re a prop.
When we fit the models and we go through our relationship with them, they never wear something that they’re not totally comfortable in.
I love that, it feels like you have a very unified idea and I really don't see that in a lot of things now a days. Also, this is stuff that I would wear and it also makes sense! It actually feels like it equalizing!
Speaking of equalizing, where it starts to not be successful is when brands or companies don’t have sincerity behind their concepts.
I can’t even count the amount of people that told me they were doing gender neutral things and then when I asked them why and they couldn’t answer.
It's fucked that it's become such a trend because on one hand, it's great! Finally, people are thinking about that kind of stuff! But now so many people are only doing it because others are and it dilutes the people that are doing it for a reason and it isn’t fair.
Completely, and you’re putting it in a context where everyone can relate in some facet. Feminism is going so far in that stereotype of the angry feminist that they’re all yelling and agreeing with each other. Sometimes men to feel comfortable in that environment, sometimes I feel weird about going into super left-wing bookstores because I think I’m going to mis-pronoun someone by mistake and be crucified but I really want to be apart of that conversation. Everyone is so angry and anger is good as a first reaction but then we need to actually talk about it, there is no dialogue.
We have always gone into it with a fuck it mentality because while it’s important to know what’s going on in the world, you have to realistic. That’s what I wanna show! It's funny because we were talking about having nudity in a show on women and men. I just wanted to show the human form in a beautiful aspect and immediately we’re running into all types of regulations regarding nudity. Like are you fucking kidding me it's just nudity!
America’s more conservative than ever about that right now. Simon just got kicked off of Facebook for a posting a link to an article about a sexologist. It was about feminism as well and he didn’t even post photos only a link.
Wow that’s the first time I'm hearing that!