For those of you who still don’t know Alvaro Dols, he’s worked with prominent national and international publications like Neo2, Metal Magazine, Sicky Magazine and many more. From Malaga, he’s a noncomformist, curious, fun, hard-working and creative trendsetter. We could say more about him but we prefer to leave you with this wonderful and exclusive interview that Alvaro Dols gave us here at So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins, marking a period of his life that is full of changes and new projects.
Photo by José Señorán
So Catchy!: Alvaro, what’s your opinion about innovation in fashion?
Alvaro Dols: I think the word innovate refers to a new proposal that is avant-garde either in its shape, concept, materials or medium. Innovation in fashion is not limited to utilizing specific material technologies, in fact, I’d say it’s the present, not the future. When I’m looking for new designers or collections, I look for something that stands out, with qualities and characteristics that, together, create something visionary.
SC!: So, who do you think is innovative in the world of fashion now and why?
AD: Obviously there are designers and brands that innovate with every step they take. As soon as they’re discovered and get their names out there, they can develop their talent and go on to the next level. I usually keep a close eye on the names that come out of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp. I absolutely love their collections and shows!
The most recent that I can remember are Raffaela Graspointner and Hyein Seo from SHOW2014. The students there are artistically uninhibited.
A part from Antwerp, in New York, the selection that the VFiles team makes for VFiles Made Fashion is incredible. Every single one surprised me. Here are some names: Andrea Jiapei Li and Ximon Lee from the FW2015 edition or Melitta Baumeister from the FW2014 edition.
SC!: What do you think about the emerging talent in Spain?
AD: I lived in Oporto, Portugal, for almost 7 years and after returning to Spain, I realized that young people here are making an impact and there are some interesting projects and talents to be explored and exploited. It’s almost a relief that Spain has decided to get on the bandwagon and start to think internationally. I think that’s the only way forward for young people today, to create a brand that, from the beginning, is searching for international markets and not only at home. Unfortunately, we don’t have the capability to consume all of the work from so much talent.
SC!: You’ve got experience from the inside of the publishing world in the fashion industry, what do you think is the secret to success?
AD: Work, work and more work. I’m a great defender of workaholics and I think that the only way to make a solid career is by constantly working. You can’t stop creating your own material, helping others on their own paths, surrounding yourself with different types of people and creating a kind of A-Team with which you can achieve your professional goals and set higher ones. Work, passion and ambition.
SC!: Of all the interviews and stories that you’ve done, which is your favorite and why?
AD: Hmmm… Sincerely, I don’t know what to tell you. I’ve learned a lot since the first interview I did was published. Every single one of my interviews has introduced me to incredible people and, in some cases they’ve made me fall more in love with my work. When I made the move from writer to editor, I got interested in coordinating content, deciding who to interview and how, and who not to. It’s something that got me hooked, deciding who to interview, getting the interview and sending out a writer, it’s amazing.
SC!: What websites, blogs or magazines can we not miss out on?
AD: I think that we could have an entire conversation about just this. One that I like is Feedly, it’s my daily digital newspaper. It’s got everything I want and separated by categories. Some other essentials are Nowness and ShowStudio, but those two wouldn’t be enough by themselves. Always looking at fashion isn’t as interesting as mixing it up with design, art, architecture, illustration, music and cinema. There’s a richness in variety.
SC!: Speaking about the world of editorials, do you think that with the immediacy of content social media provides, this visual culture that overshadows the text world, we are missing out on more in-depth interviews? Is quantity more important than quality?
AD: I am a supporter of visual culture, but always with the proper credits and references. Passive image consumption is not something I’m interested in; if the images we consume don’t have any context behind them or reference to the topic at hand, I don’t see the reason for them. I find it irritating to see amazing images without any credits for the artists behind them. References, history, content, all these things make images richer, give them meaning and complement them.
Nowadays, there is a growing abuse of easy to consume articles or clickbait: “The 5 reasons you should…”; “The best songes for…”; “The 10 places you can’t miss if…”. I understand that these articles are used to attract readers and they can easily go viral but they don’t say much. They create a culture of rapid consumption that doesn’t, and won’t in the future, do the medium any favors.
As for those media, the majority of which are independent, that continue to do in-depth stories and longer interviews full of interesting content, I think they have their followers. Some people say that people don’t read online but I think there is a public there and, though they are fewer, they are more faithful. Readers of clickbait go with let themselves be carried away by the crowds much more easily.
SC!: How do you prefer to consume your content, in video or text?
AD: All content needs a platform and the two can be complementary. Video cameras are slightly intimidating to the interviewee and if the atmosphere, the timing or the interviewer don’t fit the situation, they end up with a quick, often funny, but superficial video. There are, however, cases where the interviews really do give you an insight into the person and they come very well.
In general, and because it’s more comfortable, I prefer written and extensive interviews where I can get a feeling for the subject and set my own pace for the readers.
SC!: Are there any visual creatives that you especially like?
AD: Nick Knight and everything on ShowStudio are a point of reference. I would love to participate in one of their projects somehow. It would be a great honor.
SC!: What do you think are the steps a young designer who’s recently finished their career should take?
AD: In this day and age there are too many tools that simplify the work of getting one’s name out there and leaving a mark on the sector.
There are designers who sign agreements with shows and create their collections for the dates they are told to. I think this is a mistake because designers should see the catwalk as just another tool in their communication and PR strategy for their brands. They don’t have business plans or know how to deal with the press and so they present their collections and await the feedback.
Hoy en día existen demasiadas herramientas que facilitan la labor que un creativo tiene a la hora de darse a conocer y dejar su marca en el sector.
You’ve got to make your collections much earlier than the show, present them in international fairs and get your lookbooks ready. You should also think about other visual or online tools and projects that strengthen the collection so that when they’re on the catwalk, you’re ready.
On the other hand, I believe in the brands that don’t do fashion shows. With a good marketing strategy and a strong brand, you can go even further. In the end, if you should take the time to study the market and plan a strategy before you have the finished collection in your hands.
SC!: In your opinion, how do you build a good ‘personal brand’ in the online world?
AD: I think the secret is in, as it is with everything, knowing how to use the tools available. Social media and the online world can provide you with lots of benefits if you know what to do. Knowing what your brand is or wants to be is the basis for knowing what you want to project. Keeping this clear will avoid confusing your users and they’ll provide you with better feedback and faster growth.
SC!: Now we want to know a bit more about you, a part from your work. What’s your favorite corner of Madrid? And Malaga?
AD: I arrived to Madrid a year and a half ago and I think that I’m still looking for a place to enjoy listening to music with my headphones and having a good tea or coffee.
In Oporto, I would say that the Casa da Música is my favorite place. A few years back it was open to the public and I loved to go with my laptop and a liter of juice to work and rest there. It’s amazing and I highly recommend it. Bravo to Rem Koolhaas, the architect.
In Malaga, anywhere with my friends and family is good enough for me. The closer it is to the sea, the better. That’s something I miss very much being here in Madrid, and I try to head back as often as I can. The La Cubana beach in Benalmádena with my friends is the best place to be in the summer. Good food, good cocktails and great company: my people, the sea and the southern sun.
SC!: We know you like music so, which groups or songs do you recommend we listen to?
AD: Well… I’m a big fan of R&B from the 80s onwards; there was always jazz or blues on at home; a touch of rock every once in awhile isn’t bad; but I can’t get over electronic soul. From Kelela, Chet Faker, Kilo Kish, and Shamir to James Blake, Cashmere Cat, XXYYXX; I could go on and on. Do you want me to make you a playlist? [Laughs].
SC!: Tell us about your greatest dream or aspiration that you’ve yet to achieve or see as far off.
AD: I could imagine many things but I can’t really say because it’d be like throwing stones at the sky. I’d like to have an ambitious project in my hands and to take it to anther level and to grow with it. I think that would be one of those dreams on a professional level.
SC!: You’re an instagrammer with your project ‘myunmadebed’ and with your personal account @alvarodols. Can you recommend three Instagram accounts that we should be paying closer attention to?
AD: You mean besides my profiles? [Laughs]. That’s a difficult question but maybe @saatchiart, @vfiles and @vfilesintern, for inspiration.
Images courtesy of Alvaro Dols
First Photo by José Señorán
Translation and Layout by Michael Padilla