Camila Quiroga: When The Drip Leaks
How did you first get into fashion?
CQ: I feel like I’ve loved fashion for as long as I’ve existed. From an early age my dad would take me to the movies and through watching certain films I became fascinated with costume design. That was a way to train my eye which later led to an obsession over fashion history as well as the rituals that I incorporated more into my life as I became more confident. I never thought of a career in fashion because I wasn’t aware of all the jobs the industry has to offer, and since the fashion industry in Peru is small, it just didn’t seem realistic. When I first got to college I was an Advertising Communications major and it didn’t take long for me to switch to Fashion Studies. That decision became a stepping stone for me to transfer to FIT (The Fashion Institute of Technology) and that is where it’s at.
It’s great that you were able to pivot so quickly and be really successful right off the bat. So was it being in NY itself that cemented you changing your major or was it a certain experience?
CQ: Well, the fashion scene in the city is very particular and there’s no judgement, you can basically do whatever you want. I found that really inspiring. New York is a fashion capital so it wasn’t hard to find people that had similar interests to mine. Caring about fashion is something that seems kind of shallow back home, where most people only dress themselves to be dressed, so it felt amazing to find people that understood what I was talking about and actually cared. Also, some of my friends were fashion majors at Parsons, FIT and Pratt and I was very intrigued by what they were up to. I always knew in the back of my mind that's what I wanted to do. Growing up my dad was my biggest fashion influence, but I didn’t realize that until later in life.
So you said your dad is a big inspiration, what in particular about his fashion sense stuck with you?
CQ: My dad was an old soul. He loved certain textiles and had really interesting pieces he got during his travels. I am more eclectic than him in terms of style, but the fact that he pushed for me to learn a different language and have different cultural experiences shaped my personal style and thus, who I am.
So what area of fashion interests you the most?
CQ: I like the creative and conceptual aspect as well as the business. I am not a designer but I’d love to work with designers and creative minds. I am a Fashion Business Management major and I have to do a double degree because that’s how FIT rolls. I’m still deciding what I want to do for my second degree so I’m just going with the flow for now.
I think that goes back to what your dad was saying about having all these different experiences and you could have your hands in all these different places and keep it open by working with various designers.
CQ: Yeah, it makes you really open minded when you have all these things in your brain and wonder why you gravitate towards certain things.
So with fashion management would you coordinate fashion shows or more with marketing the clothing?
CQ: Either, It’s a versatile degree. I could be a buyer, merchandiser, product developer, the list goes on. I like the idea of going to trade shows and choosing designers and curating brands for a store. I would definitely have other things on the side though, I can’t just do one thing in the industry when there’s so much to dig your head into.
Do you think doing multiple things helps you be better in a specific area because you are more informed and know what is going on in other areas?
CQ: Yeah, I think everything is tied together. A lot of people that don’t know much about the industry often confuse fashion with retail but the mill to store processes are different. I actually helped at a trade show last semester and I’ve been able to work a couple runway shows too.
What was that experience like?
CQ: Before I transferred it was definitely harder to find fashion week related opportunities. At FIT they hook you up with different kinds of gigs which sometimes involve very well-known designers. Last semester I was a stand-in model for the Marc Jacobs show and it was crazy because he’s one of my favorites. I got to meet a lot of people behind the scenes with dressing and production, and I saw a lot of models too. It was the most surreal experience. Watching the video of the show afterwards, I realized it’s one of my favorite shows that Marc has done production-wise. It felt insane to in some way be a part of that.
So do the amount of opportunities ever get a little overwhelming for you?
CQ: Not really. I like that there is something for everyone. If I could drop school just to work shows for a week I would do it. A lot of FIT kids have a lot going on so I think it’s good to have options so then you are able to fit something in your schedule.
So was going to NY for college the first time being in the states for you?
CQ: I had an aunt who lived in NY growing up and I would visit her a lot before she went crazy. New York always felt like an extension of home to me and every time I visited I fell in love with it a little bit more.
What do you think about the fashion culture right now?
CQ: Well, it depends on what we’re focusing on. The industry’s practices are classist and unethical which conditions consumers and therefore, a lot of subcultures in fashion . I think recent events have made both designers and consumers use fashion to amplify their voices. In recent years there has also been more models of different sizes and ethnicities on the runway but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done. Black Lives Matter, has also helped start conversations about racism in fashion and it has exposed some brands which was very much needed.
I think a lot of information people weren’t previously aware of is coming to light now. I think consumers are going to have to put a lot of pressure on brands in order to change.
CQ: 100%. Thanks to social media, brands are able to hear their consumers and hopefully some of them will act accordingly and honestly.
Is there any way to do online work for these fashion companies?
CQ: There is but personally I prefer in-person work. It is really about the hands-on experience and seeing how brands work, which just doesn’t seem as gratifying through a screen. I was going to apply to Area and Alexander McQueen for internships but there was no way I’d do that online.
Do you think fashion shows could be online, or does that need to be in person as well?
CQ: I think the industry is actively looking for ways to make fashion shows accessible and eco-friendly. Every fashion week, people around the world go to Paris, NY, Milan and London and the flights needed for that involve a lot of carbon emissions. CO-VID19 got pretty bad during last Milan fashion week and brands came out with creative solutions to carry out fashion shows. Some had virtual shows or show rooms and suggested combining menswear and womenswear into one show.
What are your favorite fashion designers?
CQ: Well, I love Iris Van Herpen, Alexander Mcqueen, Thierry Mugler and the list goes on. As of late I really like Mowalola Ogunlesi, she is a Nigerian-British designer and was recently appointed as a design director for the Yeezy-Gap collaboration.
So fashion goes through a lot of different periods and streetwear is pretty big right now in NY, what are your thoughts on that?
CQ: I think it is great, it has certainly had an interesting evolution from the Dapper Dan days. Comparing that to now, you have a lot of people that associate streetwear with Hypebeasts and collaborations that drop and are supposed to be cool rather than actually being cool. NY is for sure where I've seen the coolest fits, it’s home for streetwear.
Do you think a lot of people wear certain things because they think it is supposed to be cool, or just wear things they want to wear?
CQ: Well I know some people go hard and are all for the culture but others seem to use it as a self esteem booster. There is a notion that personal style makes you feel good and is authentic to you. For a certain demographic it’s more of a competition to see who has the latest Ones or Supreme t-shirt. It feels a little devoid of meaning for people that actually appreciate fashion.
Do you think the competition is having a negative effect on the quality of work and it is more for quantity.
CQ: Oh yeah. Flex culture gets so much demand for products that companies will mass-produce an absurd amount and then sell for crazy inflated prices. The consumers are usually younger and have a sense of immediacy and want to feel cool. But trust me, you really don’t need that many Vape hoodies.
Is the need to have a certain item in order to feel cool also a negative effect?
CQ: If you have money and are able to cop all the new drops, then you feel good about yourself. Otherwise, it’s frustrating for people who can’t afford that stuff as regularly. It’s hard to acknowledge Hypebeast culture as fashion. It doesn’t seem that fun to me. I’d rather go to the Goodwill bends and buy a pound of clothes I can play with and feel like hot shit. That’s more my vibe.
Check out Camila's work!