Chavez Wearable Art Couture is the perfect blend of artistic avant-garde design and ready-to-wear practically. Their approach to unique, daring, and unconventional design has quickly garnered international popularity and consumer acceptance, as they defy the and break through the walls of industry standards.
Head designer Antonio Chavez came from humble beginnings in Guatemala and has now set up his home base in Toronto, Canada. Chavez designs have been shown during major fashion weeks including London, Dubai, Montreal, Los Angeles, Madrid, Miami, Melbourne, and more. The designs are worn by Miss Universe winners and contestants, models and celebrities alike.
I’ve had the pleasure of working with the charismatic Antonio Chavez on several occasions. At this recent photoshoot, I wear these dresses as a preview of what’s to come at the upcoming London Fashion Week this February. Along with Chavez heels made custom for me in vegan material. Afterwards, we interviewed the designer to see how he went from humble beginnings to becoming an international brand, and what advice he has for inspiring designers.
What sparked your interest in fashion?
I’ve always had a fascination and profound appreciation for Art in general, whether it’s paintings & drawings, or movies & music. Fashion was the biggest one for me, as I genuinely enjoy designing wearable art pieces that women can wear. And the feeling I get; the adoration; the excitement that many people express when they see or wear what I have designed is always such a great moment to look forward to. It never gets old. It only encourages and pushes me to do more, and to do better. I suppose this is a talent; a skill that I have had my whole life, and I’m just really happy to have pursued it and tapped into it.
Are you self taught or did you study fashion design?
It came from the need for clothing. Growing up in a small village in Guatemala, I didn’t have very much. I wasn’t as fortunate as I am today, and so I had to improvise and adapt by creating my own shoe designs, or my own pants and shirts using pieces of cloth and various fabrics. This paved the way for learning the technical aspects of fashion design, in terms of cutting, shaping, and stitching the different fabrics that I had access to. Over time, I began to learn on my own, mostly by trial and error, and an innate ability to design. There were many videos that I watched, and books I’ve read about designing that did help me on my path. Overall, I am 100% self-taught.
How has your work evolved since you began?
The quality has definitely increased. My technique and skill have vastly improved. Designs and Ideas are much more forthcoming, and I find it’s almost like second-nature to me now. Ever since my first showing with positive reception about 3 years ago, I’ve just been so confident in expressing my vision. I’m not afraid to take risks, and when I do, it often pays off very well beyond my expectations. So far, the industry and audiences absolutely love what they are seeing, and it really excites me to keep going.
How is your work received internationally?
Very positive. Rarely are there any negative perception of my designs. I don’t think I can recall a time where a large group of people or an entire audience felt tremendous disdain for a collection I made. Every show we have done has always been met with resounding success and acceptance. However, it’s more than just the collection that makes the Chavez brand look good on the international stage.
My designs, while a big piece of the puzzle, there are many other pieces that go into this incredibly well-oiled machine. In terms of our fashion shows; the runway music, and the logo animation that plays on the big screen in the background are also a big part of our overall brand image to the world. I have a huge appreciation and admiration for the Chavez Inc. team. And what’s crazy is that there are only four of us in total: Victor Gonzales, who is the Vice President of Chavez, Melissa Alvarado, who is the CFO, and Mauricio Mejia, who manages the R&D and Manufacturing of our designer footwear division.
What inspires you and your work?
It’s the adoration of audiences. It’s the thrill and excitement of entertaining people. Most of all, it’s the legacy that I hope to build in this world. This is my way of leaving a mark, however big or small it may be.
What is the biggest lesson that you have learned since you started your company?
My business partner and a very good friend, Victor Gonzales, shared some great quotes with me, and it goes… “Luck is when preparation meets opportunity” and “Want to go faster? Go alone. What to go further? Go together.”
I’ve learned that success is a combination of talents; a combination of great people working together toward a common goal. I think this state of mind is what has brought us here today, and will continue to take us where we want to go and so much more.
What advice would you give to inspiring designers?
This may sound harsh, but definitely do not skip your day job. For the first few years starting up Chavez Inc., we operated other businesses that were more conventional and more practical for generating money in order to pay the bills, to support Chavez Inc. financially, and also to support the team. We knew that Chavez Inc. was the ultimate endgame for us, and that eventually would become self-sufficient on its own, which would then allow us to drop the other businesses or jobs that we had, and focus on Chavez full-time.
To really break into the industry, you really have to network with a lot of people… and I mean… A LOT of people. This industry, and many like it, is always about who you are talking to, and who knows who. Do not be discouraged by doing smaller shows first. Everything you do, however small or insignificant, is a stepping stone to much bigger and greater things. Creating and developing meaningful and mutually beneficial relationships with industry professionals will get you much further than anything else.