Design competitions have been the order of the day in the fashion industry for decades. There is the Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Awards, the Gen Art Style International Competition, Arts of Fashion Competition, just to name a few. Even India has the Bollywood Fashion Competition. All of these competitions give emerging designers an opportunity to showcase their creativity, knowledge of new and innovative textile technologies, and construction acuity.
What is unique about the Supima Competition is that it requires all its competitors to rethink familiar fabrics construction and women’s evening wear, using fine jersey, denim, and corduroys. American Pima cotton, from which Supima draws its name, is a strong fiber, luxury cotton often referred to as “the cashmere of cotton.” With this competition, Supima, the promotional organization of American Pima cotton growers, is pushing the fashion industry – and in particular emerging designers – to consider fine luxury cotton as a fabric of choice for not only casual attire and sportswear, but also high-end, luxury garments.
On January 19 at the New York Times Center in New York City, Supima presented the third incarnation of its design competition with looks that ranged from gingham evening wear with lace embellishments to asymmetrical cocktail dresses and innovative tees. Of the six finalists, Heber Sanchez, the Sachika twins, Gina DaSilva, Robin Tomas, Nadia Ivanova, and Michael Venker, Sanchez’s classic cocktail-length gown with an asymmetrical, draped side train and DaSilva’s gown with shredded neckline and shredded back godet were the standouts of the evening. Supermodel Coco Rocha presented awards to Gina DaSilva for Best Eveningwear, and Robin Tomas for Best T-shirt. As a result of his win, Tomas’s tee shirt will be sold in Bloomingdale’s nationwide.
After the competition, the Fashion Spot talked with finalists To-Nya and To-Tam Sachika, and Heber Sanchez.
Why did you name your brand Sachika?
Sachika Twins: I was once told that my name To-Nya translates in Japanese to Sachika, which means more wishes, more fortune, more happiness. The translation fits me well, so we adapted the name.
What is your design aesthetic?
Sachika Twins: I like modern, simple lines and silhouettes. I believe sometime less is more. I also like to designs garments that are wearable, yet with a sense of creativity.
What kind of women wears your clothing?
Sachika Twins: All types of women can wear our designs. Our clothing is for a very confident woman that knows what she wants. Our target audience is women between 25 and 45 years of age.
Now there is another pair of famous designer twins from Canada, Dean and Dan Caten of Dsquared2. Are you inspired by them?
Sachika Twins: I do appreciate their style, and I think it is great that they share a special bond as twins. Because of their reality show Launch My Line we have started watching them more closely. I don’t know which one of them is more the creative entity. To-Nya is more the designer and I (To-Tam) am more business oriented.
What is the special bond you have as twins?
Sachika Twins: You are born with your best friend. You are very close, and as much as you love each other, you both fight – but that goes with being very close and connected.
Do you infuse your Vietnamese heritage into your designs?
Sachika Twins: We were born in France to Vietnamese parents, but grew up in Montreal. We have a very broad vision of all cultures, so that expansiveness and embrace of many cultures pops up in our designs.
What is the inspiration for your next collection?
Sachika Twins: Our next collection will be very feminine, light and breezy, and include an expanded color palette.
What are your retail price points?
Sachika Twins: Our dresses range in price from $139 to $300. Tee shirts range from $39 to $89.
You have now lived in New York City for over three years. How is it to live here?
Sachika Twins: We love New York City. There is no place like it. We love the energy. It is a very ambitious city for ambitious people like us.
What’s next for you?
Sachika Twins: We are working on a new collection and getting our line into stores. We are working on a tee shirt line for men. We will also be designing a handbag and shoe line. In a nutshell, we are building our empire.
Interview with Heber Sanchez
How did you become interested in fashion?
Heber Sanchez: I got a sewing machine when I was ten years old. Before trying to pursue a career in medicine, I decided that making clothes was what I really wanted to do, so I went for it.
How has your ivy-league education informed your aesthetic?
Heber Sanchez: I’m not sure if my ivy-league educated informs my design aesthetic but what it has done for me is help me to develop very good critical thinking and coping skills.
How do you connect fashion to technology?
Heber Sanchez: Fashion is about change and taking what exist and making it new and different. The body does not change, but your approach to how you dress the body can always show innovation and creativity. Because of technology, we can do amazing things with fabrics that couldn’t have been done before. Fashion and technology always go hand in hand because technology allows creative people to take their creativity to new levels.
What is the direction of men’s fashion?
Heber Sanchez: I think men’s fashion is slowly evolving into more creative and interesting clothing for men, beyond staples and 9-to-5 looks. Europeans do that much better than Americans. The trends are already out there. I feel it is my duty as a designer to raise the sophistication level of the American consumer.
You have been quoted as saying you want to feed the new breed of men hungry for style and beautiful clothes. Could you speak about that?
Heber Sanchez: I think of my designs as haute couture for men. With designers like Tom Brown, who are doing great jobs for other labels, men are starting to buy more interesting things. Some men are starting to want clothes that have beautiful craftsmanship, and are in some way representative of who they are.
But, isn’t that a niche market?
Heber Sanchez: Yes, it is a very small market. I do design ready to wear, but I really like to make signature pieces for individuals.
What kind of man wears your clothes?
Heber Sanchez: He is probably a designer or an architect, a creative person. He probably comes from a sophisticated background and understands fashion.
What’s next for you?
Heber Sanchez: I hope to keep working on my brand and get private clients.
Photos courtesy of James Bluck.