EcoWalk. Daniela Salazar: Fast Fashion Made us Believe Clothes are Cheap
“Fast fashion is cheaper because someone else isn’t getting paid enough and is working in bad conditions.” – designerDaniela Salazar
Lovely to have you here, Daniela. Please tell us your story, where did it all start for you and what led you to become a fashion designer? I wanted to become a designer since I was quite young, without even noticing. It started with making fabric napkin dresses for my dolls, making clothing doodles, learning with my mom’s sewing machine or selling handmade accessories to my school friends.
Having my own brand was a long-time goal and something that I had in mind, but I thought that I would start later, after working many years as a designer.
Shortly after moving to Berlin, I was looking for a job and I was also doing a course on how to create your own small fashion brand, to organize the ideas that I wanted to implement some years later. This made me realize that it was maybe the right moment to start with my own brand and stop leaving it for later.
Is there anything unique about Berlin that has helped foster your creativity? I like that you can find a big creative scene in general, but also for sustainable brands. I think Berlin has developed as the fashion capital in Germany and at the same time it has also become a hotspot for green fashion in Europe.
As a maker, being able to do all the steps of the design and production in Berlin is very important for me, at the same time supporting the local scene, building a network and sharing experiences with so many creative people in the city.
How does the usual day of designer Daniela Salazar look like? I start the day with breakfast, a cup of tea, check my schedule and e-mails in the morning. The rest of the day depends…it can be pattern making or sewing with some good music or podcast. On other days, it can be planning the collections, marketing or working on the website and online shops. I also like going to meetings with other makers, it’s a nice change when you’re used to work by yourself.
What made you turn in to eco-fashion, why sustainability is important to you? I cannot remember a turning point, but the idea to create a sustainable brand came naturally when I wanted to start my own because I wanted to start small, but focusing on quality. This led to choosing sustainable materials and a local production to contribute to a change within the fashion industry.
Globalization has let us see the living and working conditions of the people who produce what we wear. Therefore, consumers are more aware of the actual price of a fast fashion piece and demand in exchange a fairer and more ecologic production.
How would you define the style of Daniela Salazar?What would be your business mantra? Daniela Salazar stands for modern style with purpose, creating colourful, timeless and functional pieces. It reflects my values for sustainability and respect for our planet, people and animals, working with an emphasis on made-to-order products, all crafted with European eco-friendly materials and handmade in Berlin.
Most people say that ethical and sustainable fashion is too expensive. How do you usually respond to that? Sustainable fashion is the actual price and should be the “normal” way. Fast fashion made us believe clothes are cheap, but at the expense of other people. Fast fashion is cheaper because someone else isn’t getting paid enough and is working in bad conditions.
We as consumers need to be aware of the actual „price“ of a garment and demand in exchange a fairer and more ecologic production.
Can you tell us a bit about your experience as a fashion designer for Chloe? What did you learn and how does it feed into your current work? It was a great experience. I was able to work and meet really talented people both in the studio and the atelier.
One of the things I learned was how important the attitude of the woman that represents your ideas is. Focusing on all aspects of her personality and how your designs will mix with her. As a designer, you start believing it is about you and your designs, but in reality it is about that person who is going to love it and make it a part of her everyday life.
Do you have any fashion rules when putting an outfit together? What are some of the style guidelines you usually follow when working on a collection? What is something people can find characteristically original about Daniela Salazar designs? My signature-look is feminine but easy-going, with an oversized silhouette combined with a mix of colours or as a total colour look.
I like to mix a colorful and minimalistic style together while creating the volumes and details for my designs. Blending my Latin-American roots with the European minimalism from the cities I have lived in.
What captures your attention when looking for the materials you use in your designs? Where do you find them? Some of my favourite fabrics are hemp and organic cotton. Hemp fabric is similar to linen, but with superior durability, which is very important when creating pieces to last for years. Organic cotton is a classic option for sustainable fabrics, offering a material with great quality and versatility. I love the organic cotton with no dyes used because the cotton is woven in the natural colours of the plant and it is given a unique tone depending on the colour of the crop in that season.
I source the fabrics through a German platform specialized on sustainable materials and work with local European suppliers. Mostly from Germany, but also from Romania, Spain, the Netherlands and France. I try to work with the same suppliers for all the collections, only adding new ones if I find a new interesting fabric.
For me, it is not only important to find a fabric that I like, but also a company that I feel good cooperating with. This makes it quite easy to notice which suppliers are proud of their fabrics and production process.
Do you work alone or do you have a team operating your brand? I work alone and collaborate with a small production team in Berlin when I need bigger quantities.
What should a customer expect when buying from your website? What is the most important thing you want potential clients to know about you? You will find beautiful and comfortable pieces with a smile effect that you just cannot stop wearing. These are clothes that are thought to last, not only because of their materials, but also their style. I also want you to feel the passion beneath every single piece and the brand, so we can appreciate together the hard work behind what we wear.
From your experience, what are the most difficult points of getting your brand off the ground? What helped you the most in self-producing and getting your fashion label known? I think self-doubt can be a problem for new designers and more in this social media era, when we compare ourselves with people and brands that we don’t know. Thinking that success comes fast, but it’s actually many years of work and lots of trial and error. Just get out there, do your best and when you are good people will notice it.
What would be your advice for people wanting to launch their own fashion label? Prepare well, but don’t wait until everything is absolutely perfect because you might start late while doubting yourself. Also, find a support group of creatives and business owners. Even more, if you plan to sell online because it’s a relative new business channel and the information is changing all the time.
Share your wildest work story. Once I received a call from Dior to apply as an intern while sitting on the top of one of those hop-on-and-off tourist busses in Paris while my family was visiting. It was very windy and I couldn’t hear much, so I had to sound professional while hiding in between the seats. That was a funny moment.
What are your thoughts about the future of sustainable fashion industry? I think it’s going the right way. The changes that started a few years ago with the quality of our food are now arriving to what we wear and use. Fashion has always been related with society and its changes through our history.
What a consumer chooses to buy has a big impact on the changes we see in the fashion industry. And I also like that there’s still so much to discover and implement.
In your opinion, what are some of the holes in sustainability at design schools? When I was at fashion school, there were no classes for sustainability. I have seen more and more schools offering classes and fashion careers about it, which I think is great and should be added as a main subject at design schools.
They also should teach more about the responsibility we have as designers and how our designs impact people and the environment. I think this relation was not taken into account or taught to us, it was mostly about being creative.
What are your top tips for our reader trying to lead a more sustainable life? How you care for and value your garments has also as much impact as the design and production. Repairing is also an important part of a garment life. The more we love our clothes and care for them, the longer they last. That’s why I add a sample of the fabric with every piece, to encourage their new owners to take care and repair them when necessary.
The most common misconception about being a fashion designer is…? That everything is glamour and fashion shows, but there’s a lot of hard work and long nights behind. Also, that clothes are easy to do when it’s actually a very technical process and demands a lot of concentration and experience.
What do you usually do to recharge your artistic side? During the week, doing small breaks and going for a short walk in between lets me keep my creative energy. I enjoy my weekends and disconnect a bit from fashion. Enjoying the city or nature.
What motivates you to get out of bed in the morning? Having a new day knowing that I can do what I love.
What is something you have always wanted to try? It’s funny, because when I was younger, I knew exactly what I wanted to do and what plans I had. After I accomplished all that, now I’m more easy-going with what I want.
For the brand, my biggest plan would be to have my own shop and studio and maybe adding a jewellery line, as it’s also one of my passions.
Share one surprising thing about Daniela Salazar please. My second option was to study astronomy, but I chose design because it was more natural to me.