Jose Criales-Unzueta was born and raised in La Paz, Bolivia and at age 19 he relocated to Savannah, Georgia to further pursue his education.
Graduated at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design), he pursued a major in Fashion Design with a minor in Accessory Design. He has worked as a Costume Designer and Production Assistant prior to his college education and has worked with Fossil in a sponsored project by SCAD and interned as Handbag Design Intern at Kate Spade New York and as a Men’s Knits Design Intern at Banana Republic.
Brand Website: http://josecrialesunzueta.com
AN INTERVIEW WITH FASHION DESIGNER JOSE CRIALES-UNZUETA
Describe your brand in five words.
Neutral, gender-fluid, tailored, sophisticated, heritage.
Why did you decide to become a fashion designer?
Because I felt that fashion allowed me to merge my interests in culture and society with those in the arts and design. I consider fashion to be multidisciplinary and infinitely flexible in terms of inspiration and research and in terms of reach.
How your brand’s mission evolved starting with your first collection?
I think my first collection, pictured, started as a very dense exploration of my own personal heritage and my interests in culture and anthropology. Since, now that I am currently working on my second collection, I see evolution in terms of editing and styling. Where my message and sources of inspiration haven’t changed much, my aesthetic has evolved to be more relaxed and organic in terms of styling.
In your experience, what are some of the other negative points regarding fashion design schools?
I think fashion school is what you make out of it. There are some pros and cons to all of them but I think that if one chooses to take the path of fashion school one has to be ready to face the criticism, which may not always be constructive (as it is in the industry in general), and the competition (which is not always fair, but then again that’s life).
How sustainability can change fashion industry? Do you think we can see, in the next future, a positive change regarding sustainable design?
I would love to see change regarding sustainable design. I expect ready-to-wear and luxury brands to re-think their approach to design when it comes to dealing with waste and when it comes to not only who makes their clothes but where their materials come from. In my opinion and experience, we use a great number of synthetic textiles and materials without really needing them.
In your opinion, will it be the consumer who will facilitate the change in the supply chain or will it be the design and manufacturing industry?
I think it has to come both ways. The consumer needs to be informed and demand a change, but the industry has to also be prepared to innovate and change adjusting not only to the consumer but to what feels less harmful for the planet. There will be no change unless both parties are committed and information is what is key for this endeavor.
What should a customer expect when buying your brand?
A thoughtfully designed piece that will be made with mostly natural fibers. I would like to believe I offer pieces that are not only lasting and ageless but also have a voice of its own and have a story to tell.
What drives your inspiration for your design?
I draw inspiration from literature and cinema a lot, and from human experience. I like to intertwine both fiction and reality when I create a narrative for a collection. I consider myself a storyteller and a very concept and story driven designer.
What was the biggest challenge for you as a designer?
I think my biggest challenge is to remain authentic and truthful to my own voice. There is so much that can influence oneself that it is very easy to get lost in opinions and other voices rather than listening to our own.
Would you like to showcase your collection in one of the most important fashion weeks around the world?
I would love to showcase my collection in one of these platforms. Where I don’t necessarily intend to follow the full fashion calendar, I think I could never pass on the opportunity to have a platform in which to express my voice and ideas.
What we should expect next from you?
What is next is my second capsule collection and more collaborations with other artists and designers. I am trying to grow as a designer and develop my voice organically in a timing that feels natural and makes sense to me, and as things progress I’m very excited to share what comes next!
Photo Credits: Francisco Betancourt