Did You Know How Chileans Use Copper? Latest from a Visit to Santiago...
18 December 2014
Author: Anton Dell
In August, I travelled to Santiago in Chile, my second trip to South America this year. I got invited by Pro Chile, which is an institution of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Chile. They are in charge of promoting export of products and services. The main purpose of my travel was to meet 20 designers and deliver a workshop on brand development and export issues. I met the brands in the Armani Café in Santiago and after a catwalk show showcasing their collections, I had time to speak with them individually. It was a great experience meeting the Chilean talents and answering their diverse questions. Furthermore, I had the chance to speak to 300 students and 100 industry professionals as part of the keynote speaker programme at the university.
Chile is very advanced in comparison to some other Latin American countries when it comes to ideas and product development in fashion. Many brands are avant-garde and experiment with different materials. Copper is one of the unique materials used in cloth manufacturing and commercial garment production. Some catwalk designers produce jewellery and ready to wear collections featuring glamorous fine copper mesh. Interestingly, this use of copper is being promoted by the copper industry association in Chile.
Additionally, one of Chile’s strengths is the shoe sector. Many talented designers start to develop shoe brands there before exporting into new markets. A focus hereby is on high quality leather and craftsmanship. Vokage, one of our recent clients, is an example of a company which combines commercial design with great quality and sustainability. When you take a closer look at the high street in Chile or Peru, one thing stands out. On the one hand, you have all the European retailers, but on the other hand you also have many local mono-brand retail stores with a strong focus on local skills and craftsmanship, such as the aforementioned Vokage for instance. The retail landscape is more diverse. Multi-brand retail stores however, are not very common.
South America is definitely showing huge potential in terms of growth in the fashion sector. It is most likely that I will return to Chile next year. I am currently in conversation with Pro Chile again, discussing further workshops also involving some collaboration with Chilean designers in the UK. Moreover, Columbia and Mexico are two countries that are on my list for 2015!