"The more the merrier" is not always true—sometimes simpler is better and oftentimes, less is more. This concept is what AVASAN tries to emphasise: the elegance of simple beauty translated into a timeless and genderless kimono. Get to know more about me, my work, my dreams and my passion. 

My professional background... I studied fashion in Paris, worked in a theatre company in France for 20 years, and then came back to Spain and to fashion through social work and began taking consciousness about sustainability and its absolut urgency.

My eco/ethic lifestyle... I live in the countryside, in the outskirts of a small village in Andalusia, eat organic food and feed the neighbor's chickens with the peelings. I am a fan of zero waste and try to have a coherent life as close to nature as possible.

To me, the biggest problem of the current fashion system now is... There is no respect for people, no respect for animals, no respect for our earth, no respect for rivers and oceans, and there is a false belief that having more is going to make us happier. We have been offered “buy now, pay later” - which in the end is a trap. We have been tricked into overconsumption in the last decades and have lost touch with nature's rhythm and sometimes we even forget to take care of ourselves, stop and breathe, watch the clouds and the blue sky beyond. Luckily there is a shift in the air.

Some names that inspire me in my work... Issey Miyake, Rei Kawakubo, Kansai Yamamoto, Sybilla, Josep Font, Dries van Noten, Zaha Hadid, Luis Barragan, Gregory Colbert, Wong Kar-wai and Hafiz. I inherited from my grandfather a sumi-e book, ink, rice paper and a stone inkwell. It was about Zen-painting showing how to express the inner world and learn the practice of a conscious attitude that calms the mind and allows us to find a space of stillness, creativity and sensitivity to reflect the constant transformation of our vital nature. The foreword included a haiku 

I decide to create AVASAN because... The story began after a turning point in my life. I came back to fashion designing after having dedicated many years to art and theater. I started working in a social reintegration workshop for women where I contacted with an environmental lawyer and fashion lover and together we started working on how to build a responsible Fashion Brand. Together we thought of AVASAN, whose name includes “san” - a Japanese concept of respect for people and for the environment - and so we established the principles and goals of the brand, which I founded one a year later.

Why a Circular Fashion Brand? I think in sustainable fashion, the circular approach is a main pillar, so we just couldn’t imagine our brand without it and today, re-use, recycle and re-design belong to our brand’s DNA. Accordingly, AVASAN has aligned its mission with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals which are the guidelines for the protection of our planet and the defence of human rights.

My focus on Kimonos is due to... The kimono was always the most beautiful piece in every capsule collection I made and not only my personal favorite for any occasion, but also my clients’ “objet de désir”. Apart from being the most attractive piece, it turned out that it also was the most zero waste and genderless pattern, so polishing the concept of the brand I decided that I could use the kimono like a painter uses a blank canvas the be worked upon or like a neutral projection screen ready to receive any result of expression and inspiration. 

At the same time it proved to be the perfect piece for collaboration with other artists, something I’ve had in mind from the very beginning, the fusion between cultures and between artists. Finally, the Kimono continues being a timeless garment which has been fashionable since ever and that was what gave me the concept of persistence that I wanted for AVASAN´s collections.

My Mission, Vision, Ethos and Commitments are... Art has always been an important ingredient in my life and for me, creativity is linked to beauty, so conscious and respectful creation of something beautiful is what I feel really passionate about. As soon as I realized how important sustainable development was, I started to imagine that also my favorite pastime since I was a kid - finding unseen treasures and giving them a second life - could and should be connected to beauty. When I decided to follow the maxim “there is nothing more sustainable than what already exists” I was convinced that this could definitely be accomplished with beauty. As much as I love working with my hands and my imagination, I also enjoy spending much of my time watching the work of other artists, listening to and being inspired by them. So, having learned over the years to work with lots of discarded materials and deadstock, it has always been a pleasure and a challenge to create something beautiful. Interacting with other artists plays an important role in this process of re-creation. The result is a unique piece-of art-garment in which not only the timeline of past and presence merges but also the inspirational input of two or more artists becomes visible. As humans are relational beings so are our Kimonos relational objects.

How do I select the fabrics?  I have some deadstock suppliers in Barcelona I have been working with from the beginning. Normally I go there and look for inspiration, touch the textiles, see and feel the colors, the textures with the idea of the collection idea in the back of my mind like a radio waiting to tune in. First I choose everything I like, put it together right on the spot in the warehouse and make a second choice and buy. These treasures are going to be the main soul of the collection. Then I buy certified textiles: organic cottons, tencels and silks that are to be added to the collection’s core, the textiles that touch your skin and highlight the upcycled ones.

How do I select my suppliers? My first suppliers where passed on to me like presents from a designer friend even before I began designing myself. I have always bought fabrics and collected them and when I travelled abroad I sometimes even bought textiles for designer friends. Other fabrics came to me by personal recommendations. Visiting fairs I also do establish valuable contacts. Last year I’ve been to Modtissimo in Porto and now I am beginning to work with a Portuguesse supplier which is great since it quite close to Cádiz, one more step for our proximity goal. The silk I buy through a reliable friend in Bangalore who personally knows the weavers and is in charge of quality-control.

How do I ensure they respect eco/ethical commitments? We have a personal relationship with our suppliers which are all committed to reaching the 2030 goal by meeting objectives and always researching and looking for new ideas, materials and ways to maximize our common aim.

Are sustainable certifications important for my brand?  The certifications - the only way we can know where the raw material comes from, how it is processed and how the workers are treated - is an essential requirement for us. Although some small communities from whom we buy silk have no official certificate, we can count on our friend who works with them and gives us the corresponding feedback. For us, it is important to support these small communities.

The future plans of the company are...  I would love to buy dead stock from some brands I admire in Europe in the future and develop a closer relationship with silk weavers community and be able to support them with our work.

From the South, With love!
Amy Valentine