Where clown aesthetics meet the corporate Americana; Barragán, Victor Barragán's New York-based label showcased its no-audience Spring/Summer 2021 show in hopes of offering a glowing light at the end of the tunnel and inciting new feelings for the new year. Through shimmer and shine, to revealing silhouettes, the brand navigates the journey from Mexico to the United States, through the exploration of colorism, community, and gender and identity politics. In a time of uncertainty, Barragán celebrates individualism and self-expression by offering a theme that resonates with the lifestyle of their community. From Mexican ancient pyramids to the Brooklyn rave scene and American pop culture, the eponymous underground label highlights the importance of authenticity, culture and self-expression.
As Barragán provides a space for constant experimentation while redefining fashion in its own form, how would you describe the essence of the brand?
At its core, the brand hovers around freedom of self-expression. Whether that’d be in sexuality, cultural experiences, or feelings and emotions. We celebrate individualism and the many different ways it can be expressed.
Across all seasons, your collections have an incredibly diverse cast. What is your approach to casting the team you work with? Is there a particular demographic you choose to work with based on each collection, or is this based on a combination of elements?
Our casting approach really comes from within. In the sense that we are always aware of who is part of our community and who our audience is; these are the people we represent in our casting. We literally authenticate this approach by casting friends, family members, and customers of the brand very often. This is what makes sense for us.
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Given your Mexican background, are there any particular subcultural elements that are crucial in forming the brand's identity to this day?
The ongoing development of the brand’s identity is generally reflective of my own personal journey, so obviously, there is a lot of Mexican influence. However, it transcends outside of that as well, since my lifestyle is now balanced between New York and Mexico City. From Mexican food and ancient pyramids to the underground rave scene in Brooklyn and American pop culture, I’ve drawn inspiration from many different places.
While Barragán goes beyond fashion by embracing culture and social events, how do you manage to fuse different channels together while still staying true to the brand's identity?
Since the brand is a reflection and interpretation of our community’s experiences, I’d like to think that there’s already authenticity in that. So when we do go beyond fashion, we’re still directly working for and with our community and audience.
Are there any external outlets that continue to fuel your creative process or how you go about challenging the normative throughout your work?
With regards to challenging norms and questioning different constructs, I think the education and perspectives I’m gaining really come from living my life authentically. What may have been normative in my Mexican upbringing may be totally alien to American culture and vice versa, so I’m navigating that through my own creative process, or better yet, my learning experience.
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Humildad, Barragán’s Spring Summer 2021 collection, recently launched in New York City. What was your experience like when working on this new collection during such unprecedented times? Has your team faced any limitations this season?
This season forced us to face limitations and pivots, such as focusing on our online web store. This collection was specifically challenging to plan in advance because of all the uncertainty. However, the same limitations have also opened doors for us to explore opportunities that we typically wouldn’t have considered during pre-Covid times, such as staging a faux-runway show with no audience.
The practice of cultural humility is a significant element in your work in order to unite communities. How was this exercised throughout Humildad?
The Spring/Summer 2021 collection nods to my experience facing the challenges from a Mexican perspective and the tumultuous year. I reflected on race relations and social class from my experience being between Mexico and the United States. You can see these reflections in the clown aesthetics, as that’s a common form of street performance in Mexico to earn money. You can also see our interpretation of corporate wear, as well as the use of stars and colors from the American flag.
From semi-sheer fabrics and square-toed footwear to metal hardware detailing, are there particular elements in your garments that will always be present in the brand's future collections?
It’s always evolving, so we can’t necessarily say that anything will always be there. We definitely develop each season by highly considering and responding to our customer feedback.
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Gender and identity politics are topics of conversation that Barragán puts forth through its projects from season to season. How do you think the brand has evolved compared to when it first launched?
There’s been a gradual expansion in these areas, in terms of increasing the representation of different identities, as well as offering individuals with products that resonate more to their lifestyle.
As social media is a primary platform for visibility today, what is the initial message you wish to convey to Barragán’s audience during these times?
Be you, do you. Live life, health over wealth.
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