10 Things You Didn’t Know About Fashion in…Spain

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¿Flamenco, tapas, siesta? Surely you already know we are talking about Spain, but contrary to popular belief not all Spanish people can dance flamenco, nor do we take daily siestas after lunch (I wish!).

Beyond the stereotypes, Spain is a country that has found its place in the fashion industry thanks to designers and companies that have conquered the international market with such impressive results and commercial success. Discover why fashion in Spain is synonymous with creativity, innovation, and competitivity!

1. Spain made black fashionable

Maybe it’s your first time hearing this, but the truth is that the elegance of black can not be solely  attributed  to Chanel or Yves Saint Laurent. Under the reign of Philip II, Spain was a source of inspiration for the majority of Europe and “dressing up like a Spaniard” was trendy. That’s when black became the colour of supreme elegance. But why black? It had nothing to do with an austere and depressing society, the true reasons were actually economic!

Before the discovery of America, wearing black was seen as a symbol of wealth as it was a difficult and expensive colour to maintain. When the Spaniards arrived in the New World, they discovered a plant that made it possible to obtain an intense and long-lasting black colour. Philip II would then make black fashionable in order to sell the black dye and collect big profits for the Spanish Crown. This way, black became the new trend and if you were not wearing it, you were out!

2. A big fashion consumer country

A study from the EAE Business School argues that the amount spent on clothing in the Spanish market will increase by 10.6% by 2019. According to this forecast, Spain will be the European country that will increase its fashion consumption the most in the next four years, and the fifth country worldwide.

This significant growth is owed to low-cost clothing chains like Primark, Shana (founded in 2010 by a former executive of Inditex), H&M, Blanco and, of course, all of the Inditex brands. These brands know how to respond to demanding customers with stylish clothes, big collections, new stores opening constantly and affordable prices.

E-commerce is also becoming an increasing trend: do you know that Spaniards will spend up to €3.5 bn just in the Christmas season and that today, 8th December, is expected to be the peak online shopping day in the country?

3. All the things you didn’t know about Inditex

Spanish companies in the fashion industry are not only making millions, but also making the “Spanish brand” known worldwide. It’s the case of the Inditex Group, that includes big brands like Zara and Pull & Bear. Back in the 90s, when Zara was virtually unknown, Daniel Piette, Chairman of LVMH, described it as ”possibly the most innovative and devastating retailer in the world”. It was indeed a very accurate prediction as proved by its current status on the high street now!

Everyone knows the global importance of the Inditex group, but maybe just a few people know that the company makes up to 13 different sizes of the same garment. And did you know that they sell new designs twice a week and never repeat the same one? In 2011 Kate Middleton appeared at a concert in a mini print dress from Zara which quickly sold out. The customers who were unable to buy the dress begged the company to make it again, but they received a resounding “no”.

Behind a big empire there is always an ambitious person with an extraordinary vision. In Spain, that is Amancio Ortega, founder of the Inditex Group. Starting out in the textile market as a shop assistant at the age of fourteen, he continued his adventure in the fashion industry in 1963 as a clothing manufacturer. But it was not until 1975 that Amancio opened the very first Zara store (did you know that it was initially called Zorba?) with lingerie and bathrobes that he and his wife made in their living room. In just a few years, the entrepreneur took Zara all over Spain and prepared himself to expand overseas.

With his business being such a massive success, it’s no wonder that Amancio Ortega is one of the richest people in the world. According to Forbes and Bloomberg, he is in 2nd position with around $74bn, second only after Bill Gates!

Olivia Palermo wears Zara WWW

Olivia Palermo wears (a) Zara (top) – Photo: whowhatwear.co.uk

4. Spain is not only Inditex

But hey! Spanish fashion is not only about Inditex; in fact, there is a whole world besides the big group. Loewe, Camper, Desigual, Mango and Cortefiel are just a few examples of other highly popular Spanish stores that have also been successful internationally.

Desigual has become one of the Spanish fashion companies of reference with a turnover of nearly €1bn! The brand makes clothes impossible to forget and easily identifiable by their bright colours and loud patterns. Same for their marketing campaigns! Need to refresh your memory? Desigual organized the Kiss Tour, in which people met in different cities to kiss and be kissed (it was a great success!). And what about the Naked Party? The first 100 customers to arrive at the shop wearing only underwear could go home wearing Desigual clothes for free!

Did you know that Carlos Maíz, a former director of the brand, has created an accelerator of start-ups specializing in fashion and sport called Business Pusher? It aims to help young companies grow in this sector.

Another big one is Mango, but did you know that the expansion of the brand in 1998 was so successful that they had an average of 10 stores opening each month? From February 2016 the brand will sell new products every 15 days in their stores, with online shopping reinforcing this by eliminating the paper catalogue and opening a private online store on Amazon. The goal? To respond to the continuous changes in the fast fashion world and attract customers as many times as possible to increase sales.

5. A country full of talent to burn

Behind these famous brands is a bunch of talented designers who have been setting the fashion trends throughout the world for years. We can distinguish among the very famous Antonio Miró, Pura López, Pedro del Hierro, Paco Rabanne and the colorful Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada.

Agata Ruiz de la Prada

Spanish fashion designer Agatha Ruiz de la Prada salutes on the runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid Spring/Summer 2016 – Photo: Juan Aguado/Getty Images

And let us not forget the Sevillans Victorio & Lucchino, whose clothes can be found in New York, Paris, Italy, Germany, UK and Japan.

And what would designers be without models? Spanish models have also contributed greatly to Spanish fashion’s international recognition. If you happen to walk down New York’s 5th Avenue, you may see images of Spanish models like Eugenia Silva on massive billboards and posters. She and fellow model Esther Cañadas were lucky to be two of only five Spanish models who had the honour of walking the runway for Victoria’s Secret.

But the new generation is also promising! We could see the young model Blanca Padilla (face of the Dolce & Gabbana SS2015 collection) in the Victoria’s Secret Show 2014 and together with Marta Ortiz (regular collaborator with Westwood, Elie Saab and Emporio Armani), they are the Spanish models with more international presence. The Spanish modelling legacy is safe with them!

6. Queen Letizia – A true style icon

One afternoon in November, Prince Felipe announced that he was going to marry Letizia Ortiz, a news anchor on a popular TV channel. Since the announcement of their marriage, to their coronation as King and Queen of Spain, Letizia has changed her style, today becoming a muse of elegance and one of the best dressed women in the European royalty. She drew the attention of all Europeans with a very Spanish and eye-catching red dress designed by Lorenzo Caprile at the wedding of Frederik, Crown Prince of Denmark, and Mary Donaldson. Since then she hasn’t stopped surprising us with her elegant sense of style.

Queen Letizia and Queen Abdullah of Jordan

Queen Rania of Jordan and Queen Letizia of Spain – Photo: PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images and Carlos Alvarez/Getty Images

Lover of the latest trends and faithful client of national designers such as Adolfo Dominguez, Armand Basi, Lorenzo Caprile and her head designer, Felipe Varela, Letizia has also been proclaimed as the most “economic” queen of Europe by the international press. And the truth is that the new young Queen of Spain is a true master when it comes to successfully repeating her most favorable outfits, plus she is also an impeccable ambassador of Spanish “low cost” brands like Zara and Mango.

7. Brides say “I do” in Spanish

Planning a wedding is not easy, and choosing the perfect wedding dress is certainly one of the most difficult decisions brides have to make. However, some women really know what they want. One out of every ten brides wears Spanish brands, making Spain the second largest exporter of bridal fashion behind Asia.

A large part of the success is due to Rosa Clará and the Pronovias Group, a dynamic leading company in the sector. In fact, in order to showcase the 2016 collection they launched a very special campaign with the hashtag #PronoviasItBrides. Nine it-girls, such as Chiara Ferragni and Whitney Port, amongst others, were photographed wearing the new collection’s dresses in emblematic places, like the Brooklyn Bridge and the Brandenburg Gate.

And Pronovias doesn’t stop innovating! They have become the very first company in the bridal sector to sell online. It seems like Hannibal Laguna was right by saying that “Spanish designers dictate the bridal trends”.

8. Online fashion influencers

Fashion bloggers have changed the way modern women find outfit and lifestyle inspiration. Some of the biggest names in Spain include Alexandra Pereira with her blog Lovely Pepa and nearly 1 million followers on Instagram, and Aida Domenech from Dulceida. These fashion bloggers are supported by a loyal fan base, who they update by posting new outfits and videos, as well as working closely with brands like Louis Vuitton and Tous. Fun fact – Did you know that Aida has been the face of Stylight several times and that she won the award for Best Style Fashion Blog at the Stylight Fashion Blogger Awards in 2014?

Spanish bloggers Dulceida and Lovely Pepa

Spanish bloggers Dulceida and Lovely Pepa – Photo: dulceida.com and lovely-pepa.com

Want more? We have more! It seems that celebrities are also joining the growing trend of having fashion blogs. This is the case with actresses like Paula Echevarría and Blanca Suárez, as well as the model Gala González.

9. Madrid Fashion Week

Every year the most outstanding Spanish fashion designers come together at Madrid Fashion Week to present their new collections. Some regulars are Roberto Verino, Ágatha Ruíz de la Prada and Andrés Sardá, whilst others like David Delfín and Hannibal Laguna have played a key role in the revitalization of Spanish fashion in recent years.

Madrid Fashion Week

Models showcase designs by Maya Hansen on the runway during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid Spring/Summer 2015/16 – Photo: Eduardo Parra/Getty Images

Have you ever wondered how much a ticket to a show at Madrid Fashion Week costs? It’s somewhere between €5,000 and €7,000 due to the subsidies of Madrid and ICEX (an entity that promotes the internationalization of Spanish companies). And did you know that there is just one single hairdresser responsible for all the models of the Madrid Fashion Week? Her name is Beatriz Matallana, unmistakable for her pink hair. She is in charge of a big team of hairdressers and makeup artists and she even went on tour with Shakira!

10. Spanish fashion in The Hunger Games

Yes, you heard right! A Spanish designer has wiggled her way into The Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2. The wardrobe directors of the saga made a selection of fifty looks for the shoot in the OAK NY store in New York, where the Spanish brand Etxeberria sells its designs. Do you remember the rebels of Panem, led by Haymitch Abernathy (Woody Harrelson)? They are wearing Etxeberria!

The Spanish designer, who had not seen the movies before working on Mockingjay Part 2, soon caught up and said that “both the character and Jennifer Lawrence, the actress who plays her, are the perfect ambassador for the brand’s image”.

But he is not the only one who made his way into big productions. The costume designer Paco Delgado worked in famous movies such as Biutiful and The Oxford Murders, and he was even nominated at the Academy Awards for Best Costume Design for Les Misérables!

If you enjoyed this insider look at Spain then follow #DestinationStylight across our social platforms for more fashion, foodie, and lifestyle tips from around the world.

|By Laura Antolín Peiró|

 

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