At So Catchy! Where Fashion Begins we don’t often talk about children’s fashion due to the lack of imagination that seems to dominate the sector. Pushing back against fast fashion is difficult enough for adults, in childrenswear it’s almost impossible. Only a few brands control the majority of the market and just think of the number of times you’ve heard someone say that the clothes you’ve just given as a gift will soon be too small for the child?
In fact, this article is the first that we’ve written about children’s fashion and the subject is a brand from Seville: Motoreta.
What we like about Motoreta is its sophisticated style, simple cuts that remind us that children’s clothes must be functional, natural fabrics and the careful esthetic behind everything they do. Motoreta is sober, sophisticated and childlike all at once.
The creative minds behind Motoreta are Cristina and María, two architects who have been working in their own studio for more than 10 years. Two years ago they started working on Motoreta and nowadays they’re enjoying a bit of success both nationally and internationally.
SO CATCHY!: How did the idea come about to create a line of childrenswear?
MARÍA LLERENA: Motoreta didn’t come about as an isolated idea but rather as a decision to create and develop a brand based on the designs that Cristina was beginning to create in her free time for her own children. From day one, we knew that to do it right, we had to set up the business well, study the market, position ourselves and decide where we wanted to be as a brand in the short, medium and long term.
Why children’s clothes? Having kids inevitably changes you, they become the reference and measure for almost everything and this is our case. They can also be the models that we “experiment” with before launching our designs. We like the fact that the world of children is inspirational and the trends don’t have to follow those of adult fashion. It’s simpler and more comfortable to design for children.
SC!: Have you stopped working as architects while developing Motoreta?
MLL: The change has been progressive. Cristina has completely focused on the designs for Motoreta from the start but I continued working on buildings until just last month (March, 2015). That said, Motoreta requires 24-hour attention and nowadays we are both 100% behind the project and we could use more help. We aren’t leaving the world of architecture behind entirely, it’s always present in the shapes and designs that we come up with. You don’t stop being an architect from one day to the next and I won’t write off the idea of working in the field again some day if something interesting comes up.
SC!: Can you give us an idea of what it’s been like up until now at Motoreta?
MLL: These last two years have been like a rollercoaster for us. We started our business from scratch and launched internationally, too. We didn’t try it out on the national level first and really, anything could have happened. Fortunately, and with a lot of effort, the response has been positive from the beginning both from the customers, media and people working in the field. The good feedback has been pushing us to continue working and it makes us feel that we’re on the right track.
SC!: Before Motoreta, did you have any previous knowledge of how the world of fashion design works? What was the learning process like?
MLL: Cristina has always been interested in fashion, even before Motoreta. When she felt that it was time to start learning, she did courses in sewing, dressmaking and patternmaking. Everything else came from her previous knowledge in architecture and the world of design. In the end it’s all about composition, volume, color and material, anyways. The two fields have a lot in common.
As for the rest of the process, the commercial side and production, we always try to look for people who are qualified and professional to work with us on the project.
SC!: Who designs your clothes and who puts them together? Where do you buy your fabrics?
MLL: Cristina is the designer behind Motoreta, she decides the styles, the color palettes for each season and the new designs. She has a lot of intuition and an amazing ability to reinvent herself constantly. The creative concept behind every collection is something that we work on together, from the locations for the photo sessions to the promotional videos and catalogues. Everything has to be coordinated so that the collection comes together well and makes sense.
We use products that are made with attention to detail and high quality as well as 100% made in Spain. We like to combine artisanry with the technological advances found in the industry and we’re convinced by the quality of “made in Spain”. Almost all of the production is done in Seville, in workshops that are near our studio, which allows us to control the production phase. The stitching is done in Madrid but we’re trying to bring that phase to Seville as well. The haberdashery and fabrics mainly from Spain but the industry in Andalusia has suffered a lot from the search for cheap labor so we also purchase from Portugal or Italy. We try to keep everything close, geographically, to reduce costs and the environmental impact and to ensure the quality of the product; all of this adds to the value of the brand. In the last collection, we’ve incorporated a line of accessories with bags and backpacks made in Ubrique and the production process was practically artisanal.
SC!: Where does the success behind Motoreta come from?
MLL: The market for childrenswear is dominated by big brands that sell 80% of the products at low prices with standardized products lacking a concept or a backstory that makes them different. The other 20% is made up of small brands that make higher quality products designed to last, with greater attention to detail and with designs that are adjusted to the specific profile of customers who like the design, the fast that it’s different or simply they identify with the values of the lifestyle that the brand evokes. This is our target population.
As for the prices, our products are midrange but the high level of quality, detail and craftsmanship as well as the international and contemporary design and are directed to a minority, but global, sector with different points of sale around the world.
SC!: Apart from online, where can we find your clothes?
MLL: Our Spring-Summer collection is available in more than 100 stores around the world, from specialized boutiques and concept stores to shops with multiple brands and online. In Spain, we sell in Barcelona, Coruña, Madrid, Murcia, Jerez, Asturias and so on.
SC!: Your designs are simple yet sophisticated. What is the profile of the parents who buy your clothes for their children? Where do you sell more?
MLL: The profile of our customers is, international, aware of what happens in the world of childrenswear and they dress their children in clothes that they make themselves or that they themselves would wear. Our idea is to not only sell a product but to transmit a lifestyle that parents and their children can identify with. Our clients are mainly in the US and South Korea, two countries with a high level of purchasing power and that see styles from Europe as sophisticated and of superior quality.
SC!: Do you read any fashion, art or design magazines? Which ones?
MLL: We read anything that looks interesting, that inspires us or that could be a reference. If you could see our desks, you’d see that we still follow the same publications that we did as architects: art, fashion design, graphic design and more. However, the older books and magazines are now mixed in with specialized ones from the market like Papier Maché magazine, which is Australian, Milk Magazine, from France or Collezioni Bambini, from Italy which produces children’s fashion editorials that are as spectacular as those of adult fashion.
SC!: Name some childrenswear brand that you like.
MLL: There are a lot but to name one that really stands out: Caroline Bosmans, from Belgium. It’s a groundbreaking brand with a well defined creative concept behind it. In Spain, there’s Bobo Choses, both as a business model and the fact that despite its rapid growth, they’ve managed to maintain their true essence.
SC!: Is there any advice that you’ve picked up along the way that you would give young people who want to make it in the world of fashion?
MLL: It’s important to keep in mind that on any path, you shouldn’t be alone. You’ve got to surround yourself with a good team that shares your dreams for the project and that is willing to work without expecting an immediate return. The energy that permits us to continue working is seeing that the effort is paying off and, even better, that the objectives that we set at the beginning have been achieved little by little and every day you’ve got to aim a little bit higher.
All photos courtesy of Motoreta
Translation and layout by Michael Padilla