Oteyza lights up Paris with Spanish craftsmanship
A couple of young models pose and strut under the watchful eye of Caterina Pañeda. Paul García is busy putting the finishing touches on the outfits, ensuring everything is as it should be, before the final looks are captured with an iPhone camera. We are in the Place de Valois, a stone’s throw from the Louvre and the founders of Oteyza are focusing on the preparations for their first presentation at Paris Fashion Week. “This is the beginning of a major achievement,” says Paul García. Only 24 hours remain before the first model takes to the runway.
“It is not easy to be accepted by the Federation,” says García about the brand’s
fashion week appearance. “To introduce yourself you need an established career, otherwise it would be suicide. Here, if fashion doesn’t sell, it’s not fashion. They want profitable companies, rather than just the ability to create,” he continues about the label’s admission to the official schedule, after it presented six collections at Pitti Uomo in Florence, staged impressive shows at MBFW Madrid, and won Spain’s National Fashion Award in 2018.
Heritage and craftsmanship
“You need references, elements of character and storytelling to change your image. And Oteyza has a very strong one,” says the duo behind the tailoring brand. The designers have made their names by reinventing Spanish elements like capes and hats with a modern vision. The approach has caused controversy in the past, when Oteyza incorporated traditional Cordovan hats into a collection. “In the end, people understood that iconic pieces like these can perfectly complement a look,” says García.
A reinvention of timeless classics that seems to be coming at the right time. “Men’s fashion needs to evolve, and now it’s the right time for it. The cult of the ugly has to end. This is the beginning of a new cycle towards a new beauty standard, which will be the main theme of our collections,” García reflects, citing Balenciaga. The design duo is not intimidated by the sportswear and streetwear trends that have dominated the international catwalks in recent times.
And womenswear also offers opportunities. “The woman is at a time when she will return to the man,” says the brand, adding that it has already incorporated the skirt into its wardrobe. “A new era will begin, with new standards. And Oteyza will be there to fly the flag.”
Crafting a new business model
Rising to prominence for the Spanish National Ballet’s performance during its Spring Summer 2019 runway show, the brand has secured new customers in Russia, Mexico and North America. Now it has set its eyes on further growing abroad. In addition to signing an agreement with Tsum to expand in Eastern Europe, the label is considering opening its first stores in Paris, New York and Japan.
With luxury prices (a cape costs from €1,250 to €1,500), the founders of Oyteza speak about slow-and-steady growth underpinned by quality and garments made with care. “We always knew that we wouldn’t be able to compete on prices,” they say, adding that their customers appreciate the value of craftsmanship and quality tailoring. “Although the Spanish market has been dominated by Inditex for a long time, the Spanish customer is increasingly demanding more quality.”
Donning his work uniform and an impeccable black Oteyza cape, García walks through the rooms of the Spanish Embassy in Paris where the fashion show is about to start. Surrounded by valuable Goya tapestries, this is the perfect backdrop for the showcase. And the space stands out for its support to Spanish fashion, hosting the annual ACME (Association of Fashion Creators of Spain) exhibitions as well as runway shows from Spanish contemporaries like Leandro Cano, Palomo Spain and Yolancris.
In the dark, the models move slowly, cradling candles as if in a procession. A clear reference to ‘Lumières’, the name of the collection, chosen to honour the city hosting the latest showcase. Oteyza wants to return next season to ensure the project’s continuity. “Being our debut in Paris, we wanted to pay homage to our DNA,” says the brand. This was reflected in capes, multiple layers, asymmetric hemlines, unstructured silhouettes, unexpected volumes and soft edges. And of course, wide-brimmed Cordovan hats.
Inspired by the avant-garde Bauhaus style, the collection uses Spanish and French fabrics, with a particular emphasis on Merino wool. There were also long skirts, trousers with braces, pleated shirts and extreme roll-necks in progressive shades from black to white, including mustard yellow, navy blue and burgundy. “Perfection is boring. When you look at handmade garments closely, you can see that seams are irregular,” said the duo, confident about the product and the way it’s being showcased. “That’s the beauty of it. Like a business model with imperfections, it’s made with love. Franchises don’t seduce anybody.”
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