When Ana and Jairo started Diarte (one being the creative mind and the second, the business one) it was all about handcrafted comfy and conscious knitwear first destined for their friends. But after meeting great success, the duo managed to enlarge their production and invest a new field of possibilities while remaining faithful to their original ethics. Since then, they never stopped developing an ethical vision articulated around essential axis such as the right choice of materials, localism, transparency and long-lasting designs. With their architectural, urban silhouettes and delicate palettes, Ana and Jairo draw a softer and more just future.
Can you tell us how you decided to get into fashion?
I’ve been drawing since I was little and from an early age I enjoyed watching the fashion shows. So I decided to study fashion but with a more technical approach towards fabrics and knits.
Who were the people inspiring you at that time?
My aunt was a tailor and my grandmother is an excellent knitter, so it’s always been natural to me to be surrounded by needles, yarn and fabrics. I remember I was very young and wanted a dress for my doll, so I explained the design to my aunt and she made it. That was very inspiring, being able to create what you have in mind.
How and when did you meet Jairo?
Jairo and I met in Madrid in 2005. Years later, when I decided to start a little project named Diarte he joined me to help me out with the management, he became more and more involved. Together we’ve built what Diarte is, the values and the style of the brand is something we’ve developed together.
Can you describe the philosophy of Diarte?
At Diarte we want to be honest with ourselves; therefore we want to respect our beliefs in ethical and conscious fashion, without compromising coolness and design. But most important, we are transparent with our clients and we share and give all sorts of information about our garments, manufacturing and sourcing.
We design timeless pieces that can go through seasons in quality materials that are sourced in Europe (Spain and Italy, mainly). We believe in working within a local community, all our factories are very close to our studio so that also helps us ensure that all quality standards and fair labour practices are met.
It all started with knitwear. When did you decide to wider Diarte’s horizons?
After few seasons we felt the brand needed to expand, that the knits needed something else. Knitwear is still the core of the brand, but the rest of the collection is almost as important, it helps to balance the whole collection.
Has sustainability always played an important role in your life?
I guess so. I think that rather than be worried about buying things with certifications, etc. what I do is look at where it has been made, or to buy in local stores and only buy what I need. Buying eco products from a big chain doesn’t work for me. I prefer transparency and being able to get some traceability.
Your lines have something very urban about them. What inspires you the most in cities?
People, definitely. I grew up in Barcelona and lived in London and Madrid. Days in big cities are very long: go to work, catch a bus, go to dinner or do groceries in the same day. I admire those women who are very practical but look gorgeous in the same outfit. So when designing I think about a 24/7 pieces. Comfort fibres and silhouettes with a twist.
Do you think simplicity of design can change our approach to clothing? Our desires? And ensure a more long-lasting effect?
I have many clothes from my mum and dad that still look great after lots of years. I feel timeless and basic clothes are an investment. We don’t really need that much stuff everyday. Once you realise, you start appreciating quality in materials and tailoring. For me it’s all about a balance, between basic pieces and more fun pieces but that also can last through seasons.
What are the biggest and most urgent challenges the fashion industry has to face according to you?
Crazy consumerism and ethics in clothing production. In my opinion the fashion industry has to regulate laws on garment making factories as well as dye and finishing processes. Nowadays companies make profit on volume and most of the population demand cheap clothes that last one season not even distinguishing between high and low quality. This doesn’t make any sense to me either.
What advice would you give to a young designer willing to start a sustainable brand?
Don’t sacrifice design over materials. Sourcing for sustainable fabrics is hard, there are less options. But in the end, the buyer will choose what is more sellable and appealing to the eye and pocket.