Last week we had the chance to interview the founder of Barcelona based clothing brand Costalamel, Costa and discover the deep ideology that goes into the making of it. What captured our attention about Costalamel in the first place is that its aesthetic is nothing like the traditional Mediterranean, low key and bohemian brands that are representative of Barcelona. Equally Costalamel is not like the few other 90s inspired urban brands like Krizia Robustella who is mainly inspired by the artistic elements of that decade. Costalamel is a brand with a strong political message which gives the brand such an influential personality, attracting likeminded followers who aspire to the ethos of the brand. Costa, who’s background is in business and in branding ensured to both create a vivid interpretation of how he experiences the world and society and to communicate this interpretation through impactful visual media like videos and photography. He shares his fashion studio together with various urban artists and an industrial designer who are in constant creative synergy with his collections.
MM: What inspired you to set up Costamel?
C: People who have the need to put out the things they have inside, to explain it, to write it, to play it in a song or take a picture. I think that if you as a child have that need, life will end up putting something in front of you that serves as an excuse and as a speaker so you can do it and in my case was a clothing brand. I started studying business because I wanted to do something on my own but I saw it was a very de-humanised world and the modus operandi of the multinational companies didn’t fit me so I tried to generate something to show that things can be changed from the inside too.
MM: What is the meaning of Costamel?
Costa is my name, well it’s how people call me and la mel, it was something I always said to my friends, for us when something was good we said that was la mel, yp go somewhere and eat a paella that was good, this paella it is la mel or see a pretty girl so this girl is la mel, and it was something that kept repeating and fell in grace and then people said it with their friends.
When you create a brand at the end you need to verbalize all your ideas or all your message in a word or something that people can remember and when you explain it to people they would understand the meaning. In Costalamel we say we live in a world that is sick and in this sick world the not growing up fact is the antidote that adults who are children inside have. So how to verbalize this? Well I verbalize being lamel, so when you are lamel, when you’re the honey, it’s something sweet, melodic is something that is easy to remember and easy to say. Costalamel is this, at the end is a person who simply tries to do what it likes and tries to be part of a group with which he believes he has nothing in common.
MM: Why do you find the 90s to be such an inspirational decade?
C: There is a Japanese word Natsukashii which means “remember the past cheerfully because it happens and not sad because it’s finished,” and I have this good nostalgia about the 90s. I was born in the 90 and for me, my childhood, it is a time of happiness, to experiment, to be curious, to grow as a person, being amazed by everything.
When you see the 90’s trend it fits with the brand because you see that is more direct, easier, more natural. The healthier analog photography, VHS, the point of imperfection, and the whole issue of Hollywood and movies, actors, childhood idols, the NBA, the skateboarding movement, is something that I connect with a lot.
MM: What is the fashion attitude of the 90s?
C: A clear reference fashion of the 90s is Calvin Klein, the campaign he did for example with Kate Moss was one of the first campaigns that broke a little with what was being done. I see a very elitist fashion from my point of view, where people feels the need to buy something they really neither needs nor can afford and it ends up being another industry where there are people behind who wants to make money from whatever. I don’t personally agree with that concept, I think that in the 90’s you see the skateboarder movement, born from punk and the independent movements in California, people who want to do fashion but who wants to make it just based on t-shirts that nobody else can wear in a very controlled distribution that have only a specific type of people who can wear and understanding fashion from a more urban view.
Everyone is pulling retro now, is coming back the second-hand clothes, sneakears brand are pulling retro models like the Cortez from Nike, the Classic Reebok or the Old School from Vans and is all this union of things that makes the 90’s a time to revive.
MM: What fashion doesn’t have at this point that you want to see it have?
C: I mean is fighting over something that is almost impossible to change, at the end the fashion industry, much that is creative, ends up being a sector that is absorbed by the companies and it is normal that in the end there are people behind designers and creative people who they want to capitalize on what these people do and even us, at the end what you want with your company, it is a fashion brand or refrigerators, is making money right?
What I think is missing in fashion is a point of common sense, I mean having reached the point where things are done by inertia, things are made simply because there are lobbys behind demanding to continue doing so. For example, I don’t see it logical that to sell in a shop in Barcelona I have to go a year earlier to Paris to sell a collection, I don’t think either is to have to make collections when people just want to see something in the street and have it the next day, a bit like what Inditex is offering. I think there are many lobbys behind that don’t allow this to change, that will not allow to stop making collections a year earlier and then have to sell it in Paris or New York fairs or elsewhere.
For example, I am free, I am independent, I can do whatever I want, I won’t do something that I don’t believe in or it’s no logical or I won’t produce collections one year in advance if I can produce in Barcelona instead of going to China and I present them a year earlier to sell to stores that are going to win more than I earn, on creating it, producing it and selling it. So I think as all these things are now being regenerated, so far not done but there have been brands that have grown selling online, brands that now have more hype are those born on the street and have no idea of fashion and business but people who simply have hype, and people follow them because they like or because they are creative, musicians or artists.
Chanel, Martin Margiela and Comme des Garcons are people who I can say: I see their brands and understand them, are linked from creative point of view, a point of view from which it is important to earn money and it is important to monetize the but there is a desire to create behind. I think fashion is missing this, open up and listen to people because at the end you’re selling to them, you are serving the people and if they want to consume in another way you can’t deny them. The stores aren’t buying the collections a year earlier, why? A shop not know if it will be cold or hot and they don’t want to pay a bill a year before and then have to pay 30 days after you receive the collection the other part and haven’t sold anything because it hasn’t been cold or it hasn’t been hot. If you can serve your clothes in ten days because you produce locally or in Europe, and if you sell more you can serve more is what they want but still don’t know why no one has said anything or perhaps because little people are open to trying new things and believing in brands that are new as in our case but slowly this is changing and I believe in the coming years will fall by its weight it is logical and natural, thanks to God.
MM: Who would you most like to see wearing your clothes?
C: I really like the style of Rihanna but it’s not something 100% Costalamel, I also like Pharrell Williams as a creative mind and Cara Delevingne as a model with her groundbreaking attitude but I’m not saying “Costalamel is a brand that this person has to wear” but alternative people who are within a sector but differ, distance themselves and say no, look I have the balls to go out and criticize this because I don’t feel it’s right, all those people I would like to wear Costalamel.
MM: What is Costamel’s mission- what would you like to bring to the world as a brand?
C: I come from the world of branding and I think people buy stories no products and you as a brand can influence my thinking, my buying habits, you have the option of throwing a few ideas from a speaker so that I can take it if I I find myself under that umbrella. So what Costalamel wants is to bring our vision, our motto is “Don’t growp up, it’s a trap” because we are in a sick world and from our brand point of viewwe want to change it. I want to throw these messages for people who feel like me to make them feel even firmer in their thoughts and to people who don’t know this, can find out and say this represents me and I like it.
When I see brands that simply rely on selling a product, they are simply middlemen who buy a product and sell it more expensive and are very good at marketing I think they are missing the essence. Today people no longer go to church, doesn’t believe in the family, the fundamental plans that drive a society have dropped, so what are people thinking? They believe in brands, the society is giving power to them, speak for us and raise groups of people in which we can associate with and feel identified.
MM: If you like to do a collaboration who would it be with?
C: Here in Barcelona I would like to collaborate with the guys from Nasty Mondays in fact we are talking to see if we do something, then we are also talking to the Hinds, a rock band from Madrid that I like a lot, just the same I was saying you before you know? I would like to work with people that provides a different view of what is being done so far. And more globally, I would obviously like to collaborate with Vans and Nike, I would like to work with big brands that have especially the more urban point of view, between art, skate and urban sport.
MM: What is your favorite style city and why?
C: I quite like Tokyo because people are very free, I mean from the point where everyone dresses as they want and nobody laughs of it, no one looks at you in a bad way by wearing a costume or dressing as a little girl or because you are wearing only black or yellow. Is not the Japanese destination something I say I like aesthetically, that I want to dress like them but I think they care about having the latest fashion clothing. I really like Tokyo because of this, because it has a suburban environment where people are of all types and you see super authentic people. And also, the Japanese also have the meaningful design where you do things with a sense, we don’t design crosses because crosses are a trend or skulls because skulls are a trend instead we try to find a concept. Now for example, we created Escape from mundane, escape from this planet, escape from Earth and go into the space and that’s why we also choose elements of the space: NASA, planets, astronauts, etc.
MM: Who is your fashion idol and why?
C: I don’t have a fashion idol, I’m not really they kind of man who idolize people. There are people who I respect, there are people who have taught me things, but I’m not that type of people who hang posters in the room because I love them. I like many filmmakers, fashion designers but no, I have no one to be my fetish.