A philosophy in constant evolution. The blurring of lines between genders. Opposing fast fashion. A strong focus on sustainability. And last, but certainly not least, Mexican culture. Patricio Campillo has developed a unique view on menswear through his clothing brand, The Pack. Through linen, silk, metal-free dyed leather, denim and wool, Campillo has incorporated Charro culture, Mexican architecture and ‘pre-Hispanic minimalism’ into menswear worldwide. And the result of bringing traditional elements and techniques into a contemporary context? A universe of its own that the creative director wants to continue exploring season after season.
You’ve always been linked to fashion but in many different ways. You’ve been a fashion journalist, worked in communication management/strategy, as a stylist and art director… So when did fashion design come into play? When did you realize that this was your true calling?
It was seven years ago after going back from Paris to Madrid to finish my last year of university. My long-time friend Lorena Saravia, who has her namesake womenswear brand, proposed me the idea of collaborating on a small menswear capsule collection – I said yes immediately. It was during the sketching process that I knew designing was my thing. I think it’s just amazing to develop an idea in your head and then materialize it, so it not only exists but also becomes part of someone else’s reality. I love clothes and I love fashion, but being able to create something and make it part of someone else’s life is amazing. It fills me with joy when people tell me the jacket they bought from my brand is their favourite piece. Sometimes, when I run into people at clubs who are wearing my pieces, I buy them a shot of mezcal.
In what ways have your previous experiences in several departments of the fashion industry helped you with your own brand?
All these experiences helped me to understand the industry as a whole. To actually learn how the PRs work, how the media works, why a stylist is so important… But mainly, it helped me to understand what I really wanted and what was it about fashion that made me so passionate. For me personally, it’s all about the clothes; I love them.
You founded The Pack in 2016. ‘Mexican’ and ‘sustainable’ are the two main values/pillars of the brand. What else can you tell us about its philosophy?
The Pack’s philosophy is in constant evolution, just the way clothes have evolved and the world has evolved. It’s been a process of learning and questioning. I have also evolved as a person and a creative. The Pack’s pillars have always had a strong focus on sustainability – social and environmental sustainability. Right now, we almost only use biodegradable materials. Also, we do the production in-house.
I have a manufacturing company as a side business and I make sure everyone that is sewing has a fair pay and great working conditions. I want society to benefit from what I’m doing. Creatively, there are three main pillars: Charro culture, Mexican modernist architecture of Pedregal neighbourhood, and an aesthetic movement that has been going around that I called ‘pre-Hispanic minimalism’ – pre-Hispanic-inspired elements in rather minimal environments.
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With your brand, you propose a new vision of menswear. Nowadays, what is your opinion about men’s fashion in general? What would you like the future of menswear to be like?
I’d want men to dress without prejudices and to not have prejudices. I think men’s fashion is more fun than ever, there are some fierce guys walking down the street with fantastic looks, and I think that is just great. I also think it’s important because it helps break barriers and push masculinity forward to a friendlier, less toxic place. Why is it wrong for a man to be feminine? Why is it wrong for a woman to use men’s clothes? I love the blurring of lines between genders. Also, I would like to see an industry where fast fashion doesn’t exist.
Simple lines, impeccable craftsmanship, tailoring with some sporty details… What is the reason why, collection after collection, these characteristics remain? Is it one of your goals to make designs that last in time?
The idea is not to do the next hit but to create a universe that is unique, coherent and beautiful. I want people to see an evolution rather than a hit. I want to be able to have people recognize the brand’s style. For me, it’s about going deeper within my own universe season after season. It’s so exciting to see this evolution because you don’t know where it will take you.
One of the most characteristic elements of your designs are the materials. What are your favourite ones to work with? When it comes to materials, the Mexican and sustainable values we talked about rule your decisions?
When I first started designing, I would think of what I wanted and then tried to find the materials that I needed to make that idea come to life. This ended up being very stressful, expensive and difficult. Also, I would be doing all kinds of different things every season, so clients and retailers didn’t know what to expect. I wasn’t known for really good jeans or amazing leather jackets. So I decided to use the same materials, be known for using them, be really good at working with them and giving retailers an idea of what they could expect. It’s all about consistency.
I work with linen, silk, metal-free dyed leather, denim and wool during the winter. I believe that one of the most dangerous aspects of fashion is the synthetic microfibres that clothes produce. That is why all the materials I use except for the fusing are biodegradable.
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Mexico is one of your biggest inspirations. Charro culture, Mexican architecture and some contemporary concepts, which you have named pre-Hispanic minimalism, are some examples. How do you translate these concrete references into the designs?
It’s the centre of the brand; it’s what the DNA is made of. I approach each one of these pillars in a different way every season. For example, with Charro culture, which is fantastic, I’m exploring all the artisanal elements that surround it. I’m going deeper and deeper with the collaboration I do with artisans and how I can put them in a contemporary context. Also, I’m constantly re-interpreting the concept of being a Charro.
When it comes to modern architecture in Mexico, I love the way they used contrast – the chaos of volcanic rock vs the straight lines of the beautiful houses. There’s beauty in that balance and there’s beauty in that duality. When it comes to pre-Hispanic minimalism, I admire how something so traditional can look so contemporary. I try to do that through how I place the artisanal elements in the collection, it’s a reference of the way I want these artisanal elements to fit in the clothes.
Inspired by traditional elements but being a contemporary brand looking into the future. How do you manage to find a balance between these two opposites?
Rather than balancing these two elements, I bring traditional elements into a contemporary context. I work with traditional techniques but I use my own designs. The idea is to preserve the artisanal elements but in a contemporary way. I want the artisans to preserve their techniques but I don’t necessarily use their designs.
In your first fashion show at Fashion Week Mexico, you presented a collection that connected Mexico and the United States, focusing on the benefits that cultural exchange generates. Are your collections always conceptual? Are your designs usually a manifestation of your concerns and even political opinions?
That was certainly a shady time in my career. I actually liked the collection, but at that time, I was trying to create a DNA through concepts that were too focused on the political narrative, which had a very strong message but not a lot of depth in terms of concept or design. My concerns and political opinions will always be part of my work; I just needed to find my voice. That collection was about Cholo culture, which is beautiful and powerful, but then the following was about the Bosozoku and the following, about BDSM. Honestly, it was all over the place.
I stopped for a season to rethink what I actually wanted to do. I decided to explore my own references, my childhood, my family, myself. And boom, there it is, the latest three seasons happened. Also, I stopped creating narratives; everything I want to express, I do through the clothes. Whenever people ask me what this collection’s inspiration was, I’m like, look at the clothes.
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It seems like your Mexican roots have been a strong influence on your designs, but, beyond fashion, has your homeland influenced you on a personal level?
Definitely. I feel very proud to be Mexican. I love my country very much and I am happy to be part of it. It’s very inspiring for many reasons. Of course, it’s beautiful and rich, but the people are my favourite thing about it. We are warm, have big personalities, are hard-working but also very fun – the world can be falling apart and we will find a way to laugh about it. It’s a big beautiful chaos. Also, I admire so many Mexicans, from Moctezuma and Zapata, to Frida and Diego, from Mario García Torres to NNNNN. Greatness runs through our veins!
Despite your love for Mexico, you could work from any other city/country that’s more fashion-focused. Have you ever thought about it? When it comes to fashion, is it hard to prevail in the Mexican market?
I think about it all the time. I have a Mexican brand and a Mexican identity, and that will remain the same whether I live in Mexico or Paris. The thing is that fixed costs are very affordable in Mexico, it’s relatively cheap compared to other countries to have a studio and a big team. So, I’m being patient and creating a very well-structured company. After I achieve this, I’ll make my move.
How do you see the fashion industry in Mexico?
There is a lot of talent in Mexico, and there are some brands that are doing really cool things and creating real businesses. Also, as I mentioned before, Mexico is a great place for creative people because it’s way cheaper to develop a project than the rest of the world. It gives you the chance to fuck it up without going completely bankrupt. The local market is not very developed, especially for men. Regardless of where you are from, if you want to make it in fashion, I think you have to be in one of the main world capitals.
You’ve achieved many goals throughout these years: you’ve found a personal and unique style, opened your own shop, participated in the MBFW Mexico… But what is the most valuable thing you have learned so far? And, after all this, what are your future plans for The Pack?
The most valuable thing I have learned is to trust my instinct and my capacity to work really hard. These two things have allowed me to sail through very rough storms without falling apart. My future for The Pack is to continue showing in Paris and going deeper within my own universe. Every season, the collections keep getting better, ideas are more developed and better executed. Clothes are more complex and better made. I would like to move sometime soon to another city in order to really get into the international market. You know, the big leagues.
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