photography by MADS TEGLERS

An interview with Barbara í Gongini

Written by Michaela Widergren

It’s literarily as cold as ice outside. I’m in Copenhagen, backstage at the overly crowded and very warm Barbara í Gongini aw13 show. When I get the chance to speak quickly with Barbara, flashes are going off and on as the surrounding people are filming us with their phones. I get the impression that I’m not the only one trying to get a word with the Scandinavian redhead.

Tell me how you started the collection?

We actually started with a team this season, we wanted to cut into the surface and construct openings so you can see through the fabrics so that you could compose the garments together in different layers.

And this is your first men’s line, right?

Yes, the men’s line is our absolute first, so we are super happy, Barbara says smiling and quickly introducing me to her passing assistant.

Is there a difference creating for men?

No, I don’t think so because actually this is the very base, so it’s within the same collection as the women’s line that was originally cut for women; we just took the most masculine parts and tried them out in a different silhouette.

How are you working with sustainability?

It’s a consideration for all to make and we are very much in the debate all the time. What we’ve found out is that it’s a very complex issue. You know, ecological cotton sounds fabulous but it’s still polluted… So what we have done is that we use recycled plastics, I mean, until the industry gets cleaned up, we’re just going to find our own ways and work with sustainability in ways that we believe in. For example, there is a Japanese company that can create textiles that can easily be compared with silk, but it’s completely made out of plastic. It’s so high-tech but still super refined.

How do you feel about using animal products?

We used to work with fur but when we got directly in contact with the suppliers to have a right on discussion with them, what we learned is that they couldn’t guarantee us anything. So we keep to sheep only, and we found Scandinavian suppliers for that. I mean the conditions are really important for us.

After out chat I’m filled with warmth, but not from the temperature in the room, it’s from my talk with Barbara. I love a designer with a point of view and a greater understanding of eco-responsibility. I’m sure all of us standing in the buzz backstage felt the passion and ambition of the team, not just aiming to create new garments, but also aiming to create new ways of creating them.