The illusion is what has led Blanca García and Ana Barquilla to create this project that shines by itself, especially for its main objective. The fight for sustainability and the oceans is what has motivated these entrepreneurs to develop authentic works of fine craftsmanship from disused denim garments. We interviewed the founders to find out more about this interesting project.
How did this initiative come about? What may have seemed like a project at first, has now become an urgent necessity for fashion and the planet. Genoa Denim arose from two news items that could have a common alternative/solution. The first article exposed the (bad) expense that a denim garment entails in its production. The second one exposed that 'fast fashion' is dead. This is this way of producing fashion in such an accelerated and replicated way that it overlooks the sense of expression and uniqueness that fashion offers us to express ourselves. From these two aspects, our proposal arises as a solution.
Where does the name Genoa Denim come from and what does it mean to you? Genoa refers to the Italian city of Genoa. Genoa is the name of the city in English, which is the etymological origin of the word 'jeans'. And denim refers, of course, to our star fabric, denim.
You have been able to create an exclusive capsule collection. Why would you say that your garments are unique? There are several reasons why these garments are exclusive. The main one is that by using donated garments, the raw material we work with is limited. Also, the denim fabric has a dyeing that varies, so it is impossible to get the same shade in a garment again. At the same time, the designs are our own and the manufacturing is handmade and made in Spain. We do not produce the same garment in the same size twice, in order to maintain that uniqueness in the expression through fashion and not to fall into the super production and massification of fast fashion.
Rebirth Collection is a handmade and sustainable project, could you describe what are the aspects that most characterise it? Rebirth Collection is literally the rebirth of garments that were already lifeless into completely new and sustainable ones. It is handmade, as it has been made by hand in workshops in different parts of Spain, from Madrid to Elche, taking care of the smallest and most delicate detail, with a lot of love and dedication. These garments are sustainable because thanks to the upcycling technique we can convert denim garments from our donors into completely new garments, giving them a second life. The donors are people concerned about the environment and the ocean who had a denim garment in their wardrobe that was no longer in use. What makes this collection even more sustainable is that a percentage of the profits go to companies committed to water quality, which is our main goal.
“Rebirth Collection is literally the rebirth of garments that were already lifeless into completely new and sustainable ones”.
How long did it take you to make the garments? The garments were designed and made in record time, about two months. We needed them to be ready in time for the day we wanted to launch them, which was 8 June, in honour of World Oceans Day. Our clothing and footwear designers, Lucía Sánchez Pardo (@__fiare__), Laura Rivero Maarouf (@103Maarouf), Lara Sánchez Pomares (@bylarasanchez) and Raúl Mateo Hernández (@raulsk8), worked in an efficient and unprecedented way to have their designs ready and to be able to launch this unique and special collection.
All of your garments are the result of donated jeans. How do you manage this type of donation? Anyone who has an unused denim garment can donate it to us. We only require it to be blue, as indigo is the colour that has been most contaminated during the dyeing process. We don't care about the size or the condition of the garment. We currently have around 1000 donated denim garments. These donations have been made mainly through our Instagram, or thanks to collection points throughout Spain. On our website you can find a section dedicated to donations.
Why did you choose denim exclusively? Denim is the most resistant fabric par excellence. Years ago it was first used to make tarpaulins or sails for ships. Later, it was used for soldiers' and miners' uniforms. In addition to its resistance, we were concerned about its cost, as the water consumption for the manufacture of a garment is very high: up to 10,000 litres and 23Kg of emissions, dyes and chemicals. These figures are even more worrying if we take into account that 5,000,000,000,000 jeans are produced in the world every year. In addition, we all have a denim garment in our wardrobe that we either don't wear anymore or that we will always wear a lot.
Would you say that Genoa Denim has a defined style when it comes to design or do you simply flow in the making of the garments? The advantage of Genoa Denim is that it is able to maintain its uniformity thanks to the common link we have, denim. For us it is important to cover a wide range of styles and sizes, as we start from the idea that jeans are for everyone, for every body and also a wardrobe staple. For this reason, our collections are always capsule collections with other designers, in order to offer variety in style.
"What makes the collection even more sustainable is that a percentage of the proceeds go to companies committed to water quality, which is our main goal."
In addition, you have also been able to create a very aesthetically polished campaign/editorial. How did you generate that scenography? The aesthetics and how the values of Genoa Denim are communicated is very important to us. Blue obviously had to be a dominant colour in the image. Thanks to the location we see all the shades of blue that nature has to offer, such as the sky and its changes according to the height of the sun, and the changing sea in tune. Tones that also vary between denim garments.
The scenography was a proposal of our two amazing photographers, Roberto Tomasi and Mara Huguet from ROHA Studio. They were the ones who proposed to transport our denim garments to the sea, which is where they had their origin and it has been a success. It is precisely this essence of water that makes the make-up and hair look very ''wet look''.
Launching a project of this calibre is no easy task. What has been your favourite part of all the work? Definitely the most special part of a project like this is making it your own. To baptise it with your name and its meaning, to put a face to it through the logo, to create a unique and valuable proposal...
"I would say that I have had different favourite parts during the birth of this brand from the day we started working on the project to the day of the launch. There is one moment that I am particularly excited to remember. When we commented on networks about the great impact on the production of a pair of jeans. We made a kind of revolution without knowing it and hundreds of people turned to donate their unused garments to us to give them a second life. Everything that followed was very exciting, and without them it wouldn't have been possible," Ana Barquilla says.
"In addition to this social and overwhelming return, a moment that I remember with special affection was the shooting with the whole team and being able to carry out all the creative direction of the campaign/product images. I felt like a child retouching every detail during the photos and polishing each scene until it was what I had in my head and what I wanted to convey. Sometimes I even stopped to look at the model with the design and cried because it was so exciting to see an idea come true and in such a fair way", explains Blanca García.
"We made a kind of revolution without knowing it, and hundreds of people donated their unused clothes to us.
How far would you like to go with Genoa Denim? In other words, what are your long-term goals? Right now we envision Genoa Denim as a highly exclusive fashion brand that has created a community with its donors, and at the same time has been able to turn the denim industry on its head, offering a unique and sustainable alternative that doesn't affect the planet and the ocean. What's more, not only do we produce unique garments without harming the planet, but we also try to improve the ecosystem to remedy the damage done at the time of production. This is a dream that we hope to prove ourselves in the not too distant future, because change is urgent.
Finally, who are your artistic references or designers that have inspired you? We especially like this question. We looked at a lot of references that had done designs with denim like Margiela's fun denim cuts, or Stella McCartney's denim designs or Bella Hadid's total look for the Balenciaga show in 2020. But, it's worth noting that none of them used denim, so our references are the four designers who worked with us for Rebirth Collection to create these four amazing capsule collections.