Ethically beautiful

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Over the past 10 years, Jasper Garvida has made a name for himself in British fashion for his clean-cut silhouettes and immaculate tailoring. His newest line, Éthologie, launched in Autumn/Winter 2014 to much acclaim. This new project has a more contemporary aesthetic, but, of course, with Garvida’s signature attention to cut and detail.

A product of the prestigious BA programme at Central St Martins, Garvida gained work experience at John Galliano, Alexander McQueen and Vivienne Westwood. After graduation, he quickly became head designer at Michiko Koshino. In 2009, Garvida was a finalist for the Fashion Fringe competition and debuted his first collection at ON/OFF during London Fashion Week. Since then, his collections have featured in the world’s leading magazines and worn by a host of familiar celebrities, on and off the red carpet.

Glass recently had the opportunity to chat with Jasper Garvida about the vision and inspiration behind his latest project, Éthologie.

What inspired the creation of your new line, Éthologie? In today’s crowded fashion market, what did you feel was missing?
Girls today are very different then they were 30 years ago. They have become more knowledgeable and educated in fashion simply because of celebrity culture and the speed of the media.  For example a 17-year-old girl then would not know of Balmain, but now they do. There has been a shift in trends and the way girls today perceive fashion. It is now fashionable to know about fashion. I was inspired to create Éthologie so that I could be a part in the growing process for these women.

What defines the aesthetic of Éthologie?
Éthologie is a laboratory for experimentations and finding one style. It is bold in aesthetics but classic in execution. The Éthologie person is someone who moves through time, therefore Éthologie progresses with and in time. Through our designs we predict the future based on pop culture and current social relevance. The Éthologie person is effervescent, well travelled, and informed through technology. A modern person can easily travel to Milan, Paris, and Tokyo, where as in this past, these were only tangible for a select few. We are now able to learn more and become more simply through our travels and education. In this way Éthologie is fashion based on science.

 You have become well known for your minimalist, monochrome aesthetic. But, your first collections for Éthologie are much more bold. Is this a big shift to incorporate colour and pattern into your designs?
I have always been passionate about colour. Despite that, I prefer a monochrome palette. Regardless, I like to exercise my knowledge of colours and patterns. I would not classify it as a shift of aesthetic, but a shift of mood. Every designer is allowed to do that, right? There are no rules for designing. Each line is a new masterpiece.

Éthologie offers contemporary clothing for both men and women. Do you find it more difficult to design for men than women? What, if anything, does designing for each sex have in common?
Ten or 20 years ago, designing for men would have been very challenging, but men today have the same aesthetic as women. They are more in-tuned to the designers, wearing Calvin Klein underwear or Balenciaga suits. Men today are more fashion conscious than ever. I am a trained tailor so I am used to designing for both men and women, but the biggest challenge is getting everyone on board. We have not yet reached the point where men are as bold as women. There is no male equivalent today to Lady Gaga. We are still not accepting of a flamboyant man. Once we are able to reach such acceptance, then the difficulty of designing for men will be equal to that of women.

In spite of its more colourful palette, Éthologie is unmistakably Jasper Garvida in its impeccable tailoring and interesting silhouettes. How do you feel about the art of tailoring in a world increasingly dominated by fast fashion?
Fast fashion has a large role in culture and no one can deny it, but one must be aware of quality. Such cannot be found in High Street or fast fashion. But we must not let this effect us too much. This is something that I imply especially on young people. You do not have to buy fast fashion all of the time. While those clothes may be more affordable, designer pieces last far longer and you can always buy vintage.

Fast fashion deteriorates and has less appreciation attached to it because it is disposable. Every woman has a piece of fast fashion that just sits in their closet, because there is less care put into the decision when you purchase it. It is a repercussion of overconsumption. But buying designer, well-tailored clothing requires far more thought.

Your career has sky-rocketed since you first appeared on the scene as a Fashion Fringe finalist in 2009. What challenges have you faced as a designer in growing your brand over the past five years?
I would describe the challenges as universal. Just like any other business, we run into bumps in the road with a shift in market or economy. Most importantly, there is a challenge in finding the right people to work with. It does take time because to have a successful business you have to trust the people around you. Without that, it is not going to work. Despite all of the problems you have to be absolutely determined to maintain growth. I am not the type of person that likes to dwell on these problems. I believe that in every challenge you are confronted with, you must think creatively, not only in designs but also in problem solving on a day-to-day basis.

What made you first want to become a fashion designer?
I have wanted to be one from an early age, but I never really knew what the term meant. I had a great fascination towards women. As a young child I would sit in front of the mirror and watch my mother put on her make up and jewelry. The transformation women made on a daily basis, from sleepwear to work or parties, fascinated me. There seemed to be a whole regimen in creating a persona or implementing their own style. It was only in my teens that I started making clothing.

I used to do photography and I would make clothes for my subject and I had an inkling that this was something that I had to do. In 1999 I opened a copy of Vogue and read about Central Saint Martins where great designers such as Stella McCartney, Alexander McQueen, and John Galliano all had attended. From that moment on I decided to follow their path. Three and half weeks later I was in London studying at Saint Martins.

How did you work to shape your design team?
I am greatly inspired by my design team. Learning is a continuous process. Obviously, having a basic technical knowledge is very important because without the basics, you cannot go further in creating beautiful, well crafted pieces. If you do not know your craft then you cannot break the rules, so you must know it and understand fashion. Fashion is not confined to its own world; it extends to the streets, the things you eat, or the places you visit. Therefore, a basic knowledge of fashion, craftsmanship and passion is how I select my team. You do not have to know everything, just a desire to learn and create.

Where do you go to get away from it all?
The best place for me is home. By home, I mean my flat in London. It is where I find solace. I always try and find balance in my life by giving myself one hour each day. As soon as I wake up, I sit in silence and drink my coffee to find order and balance in my life. That time is very important to me.

Who is your biggest inspiration as a designer?
Women have always been my greatest source of inspiration. I find women to be living works of art. They are the reason why I do what I do. The ever-changing female form is fascinating as well as the psychological reasoning behind each woman.

by Jessica Quillin

Jasper Garvida is on Facebook