Inside The Square - Design According to Alessandra of MESTIZA New York
Emerging fashion brands have many moving parts, and we especially learned this firsthand in last month's Inside The Square interview with MESTIZA New York co-founder Louisa Rechter. Even so we wanted to end the week by getting to the creative core of a brand, which is design.
So we went straight to the source and sat down with one of our resident designers Alessandra Perez-Rubio of MESTIZA New York. The stylish co-founder and Creative Director may have her hands full, but we were lucky to catch her in a quiet moment at the office earlier this week. In our quick chat, Alessandra shared some insight on what it's like being one of the few designers here at The Brand Assembly Square, the story behind her self-taught approach to design and more. Check it out below to see Alessandra in action while inside the Square...
Please reintroduce yourself!
I’m Alessandra! I’m the Creative Director of MESTIZA New York and we’re a two-woman team. We launched our collection with no experience in design but I’ve personally learned by doing things like reading books and taking classes on the side.
What books or classes?
I actually took patternmaking classes. It was one of the most fun things I’ve ever done! Learning how to transform a piece of paper into something three dimensional was definitely challenging though. It’s kind of like a new way of thinking for me, because as a graphic designer everything is obviously two dimensional and flat, so it’s been about really understanding how something can be lived in.
Do you remember the first piece you made in that class?
Yes it’s actually for our next collection! It is this dress with a giant ruffled sleeve - it’s very simple, at the time I couldn’t do anything too complicated...
Would you say the ruffled sleeve is now a design signature of yours?
I think so! Our signature is the fact that we like to take inspiration from certain aspects of Philippine fashion and take it into our clothing. So right now you see a lot of butterfly sleeves and next season I wanted them even bigger and more modern and wearable.
What value has being a Brand Assembly nook tenant brought to your work as a designer?
We have a lot of creative people here that we can look to. I don’t know if there are that many actual designers that are working out of this space, I think I'm one of the few. But the fact that we’re all kind of in the same boat here as emerging designers/brands gives me a sense of hope, because everyone is doing so well and we’re all lifting each other up!
What is the best or most inspiring visual element here at the Square for you as a designer?
The light. I know we’re in our little nook here, but I find myself gravitating to the two tables near the window to work - at any time of the day it’s gorgeous. Even if it’s a rainy day it’s still beautiful and light in here.
Do you have design essentials? What’s always found here at your work station?
Well my trusty little laptop here! I do everything on Illustrator and InDesign - that’s how I know how to execute a design. I do all of my sketching directly onto the computer because my dirty little secret is that I can’t draw very well! But I’m learning and getting there. Basically I do a flat sketch and then I have images of the fabrics that I’ve sourced and I drop them into the flat sketch to see how they would look. That’s how the process works for me, for every style, every SKU…
Interesting! How do you stay organized?
When I source I take pictures on my phone and then I have a little list with everything saved in one place. I scroll through them and once I design everything I organize everything by fabric. Louisa and I usually have a big design meeting and piece everything together. Once that’s done I can kind of say, “Alright which fabrications are we using too much? Are we planning on executing this particular top in three different fabrications? Do we need to?” That sort of thing. It has given me a different perspective on how to design, and when I have meetings it gives me a better understanding of not over-developing, if it were up to me we’d have 60 styles! You have to have a sense of curation that makes sense and has a story.
As a designer who is essentially self-taught in New York do you have any tips or advice you can offer to others?
Even if you don’t have the background to become a designer there are so many resources here in New York. FIT has amazing classes that you can take at night, for me personally, my one thing was patternmaking - but you have to do all of your research. By our third season we found a bunch of vendors because we asked so many questions and we asked the right ones.