Founders of Madrid-Based Fashion House 44Studio Franx and Xavi Talk Their Latest Collection and Fashion Without Labels

Arising from the creation of fashion without borders, free of labels or genres that define or limit itself and where women are seen with oversize jackets or masculine looks and where men are free to wear skirts or dresses, the creative duo of Xavi Garcia and Franx de Cristal founded the Madrid-based fashion house in 2015. With an Avant-garde attitude and a mission to redefine the classic silhouette, it’s a project that awakens the soul with cunning nods of reference and message happily taking extravagance to the next level.

44studio.es

1.) You describe 44Studio as “fashion without barriers, free of labels or genres that define or limit itself. How did the idea come about?

We have always liked ambiguity and androgyny. We have never liked labels and we believe that fashion does not cater to a specific sex or gender. We think that each person should be free to choose what to wear, so we decided to create a brand free of gender and barriers. We know that the body of men and women are different and we adapt the patterns according to the body. But we try to make the garments feel the same for both men and women.

2.) As a brand that transcends these boundaries, have you had to deal with any backlash from the mainstream fashion world? If so, how?

The unisex or genderless concept has always existed. Even in the 90s, Calvin Klein made a unisex perfume and Jean Paul Gaultier made skirts for men and masculine suits for women. It is more complicated to try to sell a unisex or genderless product, though, as we were accustomed to a more conservative fashion. But we believe that the new generations are coming with great freedom and that this is helping to make it a little more accessible to reach any type of audience.

3.) Fashion in Madrid. Tell us what it’s like and how it differs from other big fashion cities. What makes it special?

Madrid, right now, is in a great moment of change. As the 90s generation told you before, they come with great freedom and without prejudice which helps the city to evolve. You just have to walk through the center of the city and see that what is being presented in Paris, New York, London or Paris in the week of fashion, little by little, is being reflected in these young people. We see it reflected in our store in Madrid, both with the Spanish customer and the tourist. Each time there are more bets for more special items. Tourism also helps make it look more fashionable on the street.

4.) In your latest collection, you’ve mixed classic tailoring with nods to punk rock, glam and above all, Oscar Wilde. Tell us about your inspiration for it.

MR.WILDE is a tribute collection that aims to pay homage to one of the most controversial and transgressive figures of the late Victorian London society and popular icon, Oscar Wilde.

Known for being a dandy, with his extravagant style and his brilliant conversation, Wilde soon became one of the greatest personalities of his time who was both admired and insulted at the same time during a terribly repressive and corseted environment.

A true dandy of his era, one of exquisite manners and a taste for refinement, but at the same time rebellious and a defender of freedom and beauty, it was precisely his eagerness to publicly express his feelings and his blindness for love which provoked his descent into hell and the tragic outcome known to all.

Beyond the invaluable legacy that he left us through out his literary works, one of our favorite novels is “The Portrait of Dorian Gray.” In it, this figure has reached our days as an icon of modernity, one of untamed genius representing a tireless struggle for freedom of expression.

To create this tribute collection, we started with revisiting classic tailoring, deconstructing and superimposing pieces, seeking to create the image of what would be a contemporary dandy for us.

5.) Why fashion? Give us some insight into your creative process. Then, describe your creative style in three (3) words.

For us, fashion is a creative means of expression and a way of capturing our aesthetic vision. The creative process is always a process of learning where we investigate cultures, urban tribes, artists and materials. It is always enriching.

It’s difficult to describe our creative style in 3 words when we run away from labels, but it could be: contemporary, avant-garde and genderless.

6.) To date, what’s been your most memorable moment as fashion designers?

To date, our most memorable moment was when the singer Skunk Anansie was on tour in Spain and came to our store and took away pieces from the collection of “A NEW RELIGION AND NOMADAS” for her tour. Since we are a big fan of hers, it was incredible for us. Seeing her enter the store and wearing 44STUDIO on her tour was incredible. Additionally, having been nominated to the VOGUE “WHO’S ON NEXT” for the second time has also been wonderful for us.

7.) “Converging past and future, tradition and technology, tailoring and streetwear,” your past collections have presented a series of timeless pieces matched to the tone of the avant-garde enthusiast. Tell us about how you’re redefining the classic silhouette.

We will create collections with garments that last over time, that’s why we mix the classic tailoring with the avant-garde. We believe that our personality is reflected in our collections. We like to mix the past with the future, the classic with the technological. Right now, we are finishing up defining our silhouette completely and closing to create our image. But in our latest collection, I think the image with which we want to follow is clear.

8.) In Sept. 2017, you released a video campaign entitled “A New Religion.” Tell us about the creative process behind it. Who was involved? What were your sources of inspiration?

“A New Religion” was our third collection and one of the most visual collections. It all came about while on a trip to New York. Specifically, we were inspired by a photo of an Orthodox Jew taking a taxi, something that represented normal life in a big city with impeccable styling.

An aesthetic that has alway had attraction for us, like that of punks, is new romantics or mods. It is a way to translate our current aesthetic vision, influenced by different urban tribes and attracted by religious aesthetics, investigating tradition and in the past to create. At the end of the day, the clothing is a way of expressing what we feel. We have always liked to collaborate with different artists of different disciplines, thus, bringing a new vision to our idea. And in this collection, we collaborate with several like Encarni Lovexx, who is currently working with us, who together with Afi Oco helped to create the image of the presentation video of the parade. The campaign was made by Denis Puskin and we were lucky enough to be able to work with Ylva Falk from the House Of Drama collective. She walked for us and was a model for the campaign. In the end, we wanted to gather different disciplines like religion and urban tribes and from there came “A NEW RELIGION.” To finish, we did another video with Patrice Mathieu.

9.) For the 44Studio newbie, where can purchase your items from your latest collection?

Right now, we just opened our own online store “www.44studio.es” and a physical point of sale at 44STORE in Madrid. Eventually, we want to launch the brand internationally, but we know that everything is slow. We hope it will all happen soon. Certainly in the presentation of our collection in Paris, there was enough media and people interested.

10.) What’s next for the company? What are your goals as a brand?

The objective is to be strong, position the brand and have international points of sale. For this, we will continue with presentations in Paris.

Kyle Johnson

Kyle Johnson is a writer, web designer and former senior editor for ODDA magazine, a glossy 500+ page high fashion magazine. In addition to his work for ODDA, he is also a freelance writer for LAB A4 and a creative director for various projects across various industries where he specializes in branding, identity and visual strategy. He is also the founding editor of PLOY.

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