Slow Fashion and Weaving : Interview with Sandra Villarreal the designer behind Iris Arco fashion brand.

Hello Sandra, I came across your unique designs on my Instagram Feed. Where are you from? I am Mexican and Peruvian, I was born in Mexico and lived in Peru since my teens.

Since what age did your curiosity for fashion, and the love of weaving unique pieces started? Actually I was never curious about fashion, it was more a curiosity for art that brought me to explore drawing, photography, cinema and music. I worked as a creative writer many years, then as a photographer. Visual arts was always a media of expression that called my attention. I made a lot of self portraits were I wore flashy costumes and garments that helped me create pictures I Imagined. Weaving in the other hand was always I did as a child, at 7 years old my Peruvian grandma went to visit me to Mexico and gave me the basic technique , then I continued on my own while I grew up, I never stopped knitting. I read many patterns and weaved a lot and continued learning. It wasn’t till my first pregnancy., One day I was planning to weave a sweater (chompa) for my first born. It appeared in a wisp , a true calling, the idea of transforming the weaving in a media of expression. I discovered textile design, a creative tool that made every sense to me and gave me total sense of my creative exploration.

When was the idea of building a brand came across your mind? After that calling, and experimenting creating patterns, and original pieces at home, the moment arrived to show them, I offered them to people who were interested. That moment I decided that beyond creative work in my patterns it was necessary to think in a optimal material that added value to the pieces, that was quality material, long lasting, and that it was sustainable. Living in Peru there wasn’t much to think, alpaca was the answer. I discovered that there were not many brands that worked with alpaca outside a concept of selling to tourist. I thought I could create a new proposal with new attractive models for a local and foreign target, who didn’t have many options of quality clothing with original designs. For the brand I didn’t want to use my name, but also I wanted to use a word that was a common sustantive. One day I came across the word Arcoíris, and the game it was written backwards created a fictional character I was searching for: Iris Arco. the reminiscence of color is printed in the name that is key element of the brand.

What is the concept of your brand? To give presence and new sense of hand made weaving with original and exclusive pieces. Iris Arco invites you to reveal your authentic style by wearing knitted weaved pieces that call the attention with excepcional designs.

A thing I love About your brand is that it’s atemporal and that you don’t follow any trends, but your own creativity. What is your creative process behind every collection? I imagine the sweaters (chompas) that I would like to wear, and then the ideas come flowing. I love colors, and endless combinations that can be accomplished by mixing them. The truth is that the alpaca catalogues are too short for me, and there is not a lot of variety as I would want. I want that the models have a lot of texture and colors. I think that each sweater is the protagonist of each garment of the person who wears it. I’ve started to explore also the use of Peruvian pima cotton, one of the best of the world, and proximately I want to add quality materials like sheep and merino fiber for wider possibilities. Definitely I have the luck to stand in a country that is a paradise of fibers of the best quality.

What is the inspiration behind every piece? My inspiration is in possibility. Any possibility of a weaving that doesn’t exist and that I can weave with my hands. I live chasing with my knitting tools to weave every combinations and designs that my mind imagines. It’s like a machine that never stops, the creative possibilities of weaving are infinite to me.

Approximately how many time it takes to design one piece of weaving? The pretty thing of this process is that besides designing, I am the weaver behind every design. When I put my ideas in order, depending each design , it can take me two weeks since I imagine it until I finish weaving.

Beside your web page, and Instagram.. Where can we find your products and request a unique personalized sweater? For the moment I’m selling on my webpage IrisArco.com , I’ve been working in a ” costume made to order” by means you pick the model you like on my webpage and once you buy it it starts weaving. Generally it’s me who weaves but I have also worked with artisans from Ancash from a region of Peru ,Altandina. Today I’m searching to form my own team. I have a dream to form a group of women that can weave and create a bond between them and the brand and give them purpose in there daily life and quality, it is sustainable to work this way without over production of weaves that won’t be sold. That way there is an exclusivity with the designs, and we promote conscious buying. The next step is to start with small stocks of each model to start selling them in stores.

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