At 22 years old, Aitor Goikoetxea is a young promise of Spanish fashion because of his sensibility, feel for aesthetics, creative mind, savoir-faire and technique. He is a student of IED Barcelona, he has recently been recognised with the ITS Responsible Creativity Award powered by Allianz, within the framework of the XIX edition of the International Talent Support 2021 – ITS Contest 2021, for his final year collection “Aitarekin Afaltzen”. FashionUnited spoke with him to find out the essence of his award-winning collection, his roots and future projects.
You are the first Spaniard to obtain the ITS Responsible Creativity Award, what does this mean for you?
I could say that I am still processing the award. I was very excited to know that I was a finalist and when they told me that I had won the award it was as if I was in a dream. I was really happy that people who didn't know me at all came to appreciate such a personal and intimate project.
I always think that the fact that I am working on themes that I have such an emotional bond with could be something that is more difficult for people to empathise with. But I think just the opposite happened, the fact of being so transparent with the concept made people find authenticity and solidity in the discourse, and this helped the judges to see coherence in the garments, and I think that is why they valued my work.
The collection is called “Aitarekin Afaltzen”, which means ‘dinner with my father’, Could you tell us more about what inspired you to create it?
That's right, this collection began with a rather nostalgic reflection on my past. My father died in 2013 and that's when I realised that he was a stranger to me. From that moment on, I felt like I really got to know him through the memories we shared together, even though there were few since we only saw each other two weekends a month. That's when I was able to understand many things.
I realised that those moments we spent eating around the table forged our relationship, and the importance that I wanted to give to everything that surrounds that situation from objects to images of moments eating, were what made me call the collection "Aitarekin Afaltzen".
What is your star garment? Why?
It is very difficult for me to keep a single garment since you end up loving each piece/design. One of my favourite looks was a suit that I fused with a tablecloth. This look is one of the ones that best capture the entire concept that I wanted to work on.
I found an image of a birthday of my father where he was having dinner to celebrate. This image is of the garden of the house where we spent half of the summers with my father, and it was precisely in that garden that my father suffered the attack to the heart from which he died. Everything that this image conveyed to me, and how in a single image a positive memory coexisted with a place that later it was inevitable to associate with something sad seemed very interesting to me. With this image that practically fits in the palm of my hand, I made a print of the scale of a tablecloth that was practically three metres long. The very object of the tablecloth seemed very interesting to me because of its symbolic meaning.
I constantly exercised with nostalgia when working on this collection. Once I found the key image and the perfect object for the theme, I wanted to put the very result you get with the tablecloth, on the object itself. So it was like merging cause and effect, action and result into one, or the image of dinner on the tablecloth itself.
Tell us about the colours you chose…
I have realised that colour is always present in my projects. I don't know if the reason is the optimism that they directly convey to me, especially when working on themes that could easily be interpreted as sad, as is the case of the death of a father, or one feels an inevitable attraction to colour. But what is clear to me is that the colours I work with are a reflection of my attitude in life, for example, I cannot change a bad experience, but I can manage my approach to that experience, and I always prefer to stay with the positive things. Perhaps colour has become one of my resources when I design, aiming to be more sincere and optimistic .
This collection includes fabrics created from scratch, how has the creation process been?
I loved the process of working towards my favourite garments from the collection. I made a hand-embroidered vest that took more than 500 hours, with the help of my aunts and cousins and the sisters and nieces of my father.
In the collection we used Swarovski, minerals and stones to recreate the texture of blue cheese. The blue cheese itself served as a metaphor to explain the psychological transformation that my father experienced by spending so much time alone. In addition to the fact that blue cheese was something that was always in the fridge at my father's house, I loved investigating the traditional process of making cheese, and I was very pleased to discover that they left the cheeses "alone" in a cave, and over time it turned into a completely different result.
Seeing how something could be transformed by loneliness inspired me to use my collection to depict that same emotion/feeling/state of being in which my father fell. Also, getting the whole family together was a beautiful experience and almost like a joint tribute to my father.
There are also hand-woven garments, why have you chosen this manufacturing method?
I think that using techniques such as hand knitting was another result of the nostalgia that invaded me when working on this collection. I really liked using traditional ways of working and this was one of the ones that best suited me with the result I wanted to achieve.
Where does your interest in the world of fashion come from?
It has always been something that others have seen clearly in me, how easy it was for me, something that took me, personally, a little longer to realise. I suppose that in the end, being a sensitive person makes you develop a special sensitivity towards things, especially towards what surrounds you and ends up being part of who you are. The way I see things ended up being something that I started to translate into how I saw myself, and experimenting with clothes made me more and more interested in fashion.
Where do you find inspiration?
I think I quite literally find inspiration in everything I see. I could make a collection from any photo I have in my mobile gallery, or even from a crumpled piece of paper on the corner of a sidewalk. But what I like the most or, above all, what I find most coherent in my creative process is when I take an introspective look at who I am or what I have experienced. I think I empathise more with what I know and with the things that are close to me, in this way creativity flows more easily in my projects.
How do you think the pandemic has affected the world of fashion?
I think it is very easy to look at the things that fashion has lost due to the pandemic, but I find that it has been something very positive to rethink the dynamics that were being followed in the world of fashion almost by inertia. I have loved seeing how many brands have made an effort to find new ways to share their collections, in more creative and even more interesting ways, in my opinion, as has happened with virtual shows without an audience for example.
What projects do you have in hand?
I am currently working at the Spanish clothing brand ManéMané in Madrid, and soon I will participate in a new project that I have been working on in a contest here in Spain. I am also about to launch my own website, for which I have four projects underway that I will be putting up for sale throughout this year.Originally published on FashionUnited.es and translated by Andrea Byrne.
Photo credit: Aitor Goikoetxea