MANY OF THEM - LÍVIA CAMPOS INTERVIEW - PRINTED EDITION
— Livia, you have just shown Beira’s latest collection yesterday at São Paulo Fashion Week; how was it?
I was very excited and didn’t want to think too much about how it would turn out, but in the end, when I saw all the work, I was very happy with the result.
— And how do you feel the brand has evolved since your first show?
I think each collection builds from one to the other, and it’s all one long process. Of course, it doesn’t mean that one collection is better than the previous one, but it’s inevitably a result of it. There is never a specific narrative running through each one, like, “This time, I will talk about 19th-century dresses.” I’m just referring to what I’ve been working on from the beginning – it’s about the pieces themselves. I’m not sure that the collection I showed yesterday is better than the others, but I do know that it was part of the story that comes next, and I think it’s good to have a past and a future.
— How did you get involved in fashion?
I started Beira in 2014 when I finished my studies in industrial design. Before that, my projects were very diverse because all the students needed to develop their portfolios, and the teachers were specialists in different mediums, whether product design or fashion. I remember I was always taking courses with fashion professors, so when I completed university, my portfolio included some industrial products, like a collection of forks and knives, but also a few good projects in fashion. I even made a collection of hats that were shown in a fashion show for another brand, and I really enjoyed it. It was then that I connected with a professor – she was pregnant and couldn’t continue teaching, and around the same time, we began developing a really great relationship. I worked with her for about six months to a year, trying to develop the design of a few pieces I was working on to understand what they would be and why. At first, I didn’t realize that it would become a fashion brand. In part, it was because I didn’t really like the fashion environment at the time, but that being said, I am very happy with where I am today.
— Do you think your studies in industrial design relate to your work in fashion?
I think fashion is quite similar to developing any other industrial product: I see the collections as a way to create a language. One of the main differences between the two is that in fashion, the products have to work as a group, but if you think about it, in industrial design you also develop a collection that functions together.
— How has the process of building a collection changed for you over the years?
The first collections were the most difficult ones, and it took me a long time to do them. I spent a whole year just writing, trying to understand which path to follow. It’s interesting because I realized that, during the process of making a collection, there is always this specific moment when the garment becomes good, bad, or interesting, and the challenge is how to capture that. Of course, I do believe that the base subject is a blouse, a pair of trousers or a jacket. I am very conscious that a blouse needs to have a front and a back, and we have arms, so now we need to sew the garment and cut it properly. But I don’t want to just find a solution, I try to focus on how to understand the possibilities a piece has, this transitional moment. What is also interesting and defines a lot of the collections I am developing lately is that, in the beginning, I didn’t see the need to have an equilibrium. I used to make like five pairs of pants and only one blouse, and I didn’t understand that I needed to have more variety for the buyers.
— Now that you are talking about production and the way you make the clothes, do you outsource any of your production?
No, everything is done by us. I have one pattern maker and three seamstresses, and two other people who work from home. At the moment, I’m in a difficult phase because I don’t have enough orders to do big production runs, but I don’t have a large enough structure to fulfill all of my orders, so I’m in limbo right now. That’s always my problem — 'How can I make this work efficiently?' But yes, we create everything here, from the development to the production itself, and it’s very personal. Sometimes we do a piece in a fabric that is very difficult to work with, and it takes like three days, and when it ends, we say, “Okay, the person who buys it will be happy because it took so much work and time to do this.” And that’s also what I like to see in other brands — the intimacy in the work, and it feels so special and real! Because when we think about fashion or big labels, it always seems so impersonal. This is what I like to create — a sense of closeness.
— And in terms of materials, do Brazilian suppliers you work with?
Almost entirely, yes. There is a supplier who works a lot with recycled silk cocoons, and the weaving is semi-industrial, so they get an extraordinary texture; it’s unbelievable. But it’s very expensive, and it’s not what sells. It’s worth it because I am satisfied seeing the final result, and as we are a small company, we can produce a piece that we believe in. At the moment, I feel quite free when it comes to suppliers because it’s possible to use fabrics that I like without worrying too much if they will work or not. Also, there is another supplier in Rio, about an hour from here, that mainly works very different silk, and they are so happy and proud of their work. The fabric is industrial, you can’t say it’s ecological, but it’s amazing. It’s a matter of finding a balance because sometimes we just focus on the visual part of the fabric, but there are ethical aspects and people’s work involved. It’s important to have transparency and to understand that when you buy something very cheap, there is a lot of effort behind it. Sometimes you just forget when you look at a product, you think there is no one there, but yes, there always is.
— How do you see the fashion scene in Brazil? Do you think there is a viable market for new designers?
It’s difficult to sell something different in Brazil because they are very focused on beachwear. All the brands I see around here have this aesthetic of relaxed, easy summer clothes, but I think that is because they need to be to succeed in this market. Also, I think there aren’t many investors or partnerships that would help to create a more competitive field, and we don’t have a lot of multi-brand shops. I just sell in one store in Brazil that makes the order from the line sheet, but the collection itself, the samples, go to Vald Agency in Paris and New York, who also represent other labels. Since the beginning, we have been trying to get into the international market because we always found them more receptive. For example, we just sold to Totokaelo, which is a super nice store in New York.
— Is there a Brazilian identity in terms of fashion that you can tell us about?
I don’t think there is a fashion identity because I just see a stereotype of Brazilian style: bodycon dresses and casual wear. On the other hand, I can see there are Brazilians making fashion, and our own fashion language should exist, but I don’t consider there is any shared sense of group or a scene yet. To be honest, I’m thinking about your question about how I would define Brazilian fashion, and it feels like I have tried to answer that my whole life. Sometimes I feel I am closer to a Japanese sensibility because of the construction, which is quite particular. But I don’t know. Maybe fashion is completely international now.
— And what are your next steps?
What I’d really like is to make it, have it pay for itself, and just be able to continue. I think it’s much easier to start and do the first show, but the second and the third are much more difficult. That’s the problem! It’s not about how to begin, and it’s about how to keep going.
Make-up, Hair, and Nails: @shaila_moran
Look 1: Grey Tactel Stitch Jacket, Black Cotton Double Jumpsuit
Look 2: White Cotton Stitch Shirt, Black Cotton Trousers
Look 3: Red Long Dress with Big Straps