This talented designer is yet another example of the lamentable brain drain, which Spain is currently suffering from. Ahida left for London not too long ago but she already feels at home. Born and raised in Basque Country, she chose the British capital to develop her skills and seek out professional inspiration and, to her surprise, her work has not only been well-received but it’s also unique and has found its place in the ocean of trends that make up the London scene. She’s got an inquiring spirit that emanates peace. We were delighted to get to know her and to hear her first impressions of her new hometown. Don’t miss out on the interview as its full of references that deserve a closer look.
So Catchy!: How would you define yourself?
Ahida Agirre: Fashion designer and seeker of places that inspire me.
SC!: What have you been up to recently?
AA: I’m trying to move the pieces that I did for the Virgo collection, because I did the image collection, with 11 different looks and then I made three designs for a jacket, a sweatshirt and a dress with different fabrics that I liked at the time and that worked together with the collection but on another level; I made them into articles for the daily use. I’m selling them in Spain and London. While I’m waiting for the budget for the spring/summer collection, I’m working on a collection of accessories. I’m doing a collaboration on patterns with Emo Díaz, an illustrator who has a figurative and childlike style, with dolls.
SC!: Any objectives for the long term?
AA: To make a living from this exclusively. To make ends meet, I always end up work in shops but what I really want is to work exclusively in fashion, for me and also for the work that I do for other people, as long as I can find enough time for my projects.
SC!: What do you think about the London creative scene?
AA: It’s incredible. There’s a constant level of production here and everyone wants to do something. Everyone I’ve met is doing something different. I also find it surprising because they like my work a lot and, despite the fact that there is a naïf or infantile style, there aren’t any designers doing what I am, the ones that are around are much more aggressive.
I’m meeting a lot of people who don’t mind working for free, who wok in an office from Monday to Friday and at the weekends they do photo shoots.
There’s a lot of movement. Thursdays, when the gallery openings usually happen, many professionals from the creative world get together and they’re all so friendly and close; they fill you in on what they’re doing and you can always get some inspiration there.
SC!: How does London compare to Barcelona?
AA: Well, let’s see. London is very expensive so it’s a balancing act between what’s pricey and what’s creative. In reality, you pay for the creativity.
SC!: Tell us about some of the other Spanish creative expats in London.
AA: Sure, there’s Roberto Piqueras, who’s been here for two years or so. Then there are interior designers; one guy has a fanzine called Buffalo Zine. Yeah, there are a lot of people, like Pau Sampera and David Mendez Alonso, a.k.a. Mr The freak who are artists.
SC!: People who inspire you?
AA: Number one is Krizia Robustella, who’s the one who taught me. Alos, Javier Castán a photographer and my best-friend who I came to London with. He’s an architect and a graphic designer, he’s very creative and we’re always sharing opinions and things. In Barcelona, the people around me, like Niwen Paola, the girl who did the tiaras for my collection, I shared a lot with her. They’re people who are entrepreneurial and they inspire you as a person and as an artist.
SC!: Websites or magazines we should keep our eyes on.
AA: ItFashion, because they publish interesting things, they’re more realistic than blogs like Vogue or ELLE. I like It’s Nice That a lot too; the blog by “Ruby Star” for the Spanish brand KLING, which there’s also a print version of and in the beginning of December, in the print magazine they’re publishing an interview with me. The esthetic is very childish and “girly”, it’s a website that I read a lot because they discover a lot of talented people, especially the Spanish, and it’s like, “wow”, where were these people hiding?
SC!: What do you think about the rising trend of digital retro Internet, like with Claudia Mate?
AA: I think it’s a definite style. For me there are things that I like and things that I don’t, they seem too “cyber”, too futuristic and I think that I’m a bit more retro. Esthetically I love the games and colors they make, aboveall they inspire me by their presentation, as a reference for a shoot or a campaign.
SC!: And do you think this style will become something bigger, will it make it into the mainstream?
AA: Here in London it already is, you see it all the time. There are people who really dress this way but they take it out onto the street, they make it wearable. There’s Roberto Piqueras for example, he just let’s his imagination loose, his creativity and the looks that he sets up can be really stunning, but people have done a pretty good job of making it something you can wear.
In Spain, at least in Barcelona and Madrid, you can see it a lot too, everywhere else, I guess it’s just a question of time. It’ll really take off when Inditex “appropriates” this tendency, the company is “inspired” by these types of designers and they bring that into their stores, so the public sees it as something normal, something that’s ok to wear. H&M and TopShop already have similar clothes in their stores.
SC!: What are you doing as far as online sales are concerned and what do you think about it?
AA: Well, from my point of view, online sales are good, you can have a shop for free basically. I pay, for 25 pieces in Bigcartel, $9 per month but if you have 5 it’s free. And it helps me to make my work available to the world but it doesn’t get your name out there. You need to be on the street, on a good street, so people can really see you work and you can sell.
SC!: Where do you think about the fashion world and where do you think it’s heading?
AA: I think clients are getting further and further away from fast-fashion and getting more and more into fair trade, more responsibility, consuming less but better quality. If I find myself with 60€ I prefer to spend it on this or that designer instead of opting for big chains.
SC!: Hot spots, anything that inspires great ideas, tendencies you’ve noticed?
AA: In Barcelona, I always kind of went with what Krizia was up to. She held at least one event a month, so that’s a hot spot, a lot of people get together and you can spend time speaking with and getting to know artists, creative, designers, all explaining what they do. I love East London, I know it’s typical but I love it. It’s also so big and extensive that you can pass through different areas, go into different shops and discover something new every time, you can see what people are up to.
SC!: And finally, tell us about María Pizzeria and your recent collaboration with the Meow shoot for the cat sweatshirts.
AA: Maria is a social media queen and a really nice girl. My friend Pau Sampera introduced me when I got to London and since the beginning we’ve felt an intimate bond of friendship. I admire her a lot, she’s very ambitious and hardworking, very humble and she’s got an amazing cultural vision. This shoot was our first collaboration and the first of many.
Are you ready?
Translated by Michael Padilla