Diego Ladron De Guevara
I met with Diego on a drab day in Lower East Side. Unlike the New Yorker grey uniform he showed up in colorful skirt and sandals! Diego was the epitome of the aesthetis of his fashion laboratory, youthful, irreverent and genderless. Diego and his laboratory, Ladrondeguevara, is based in Lima, Peru. He was in NYC for some workshops and managed to spare some time between photo shoots in Soho to tell me about his laboratory and their new adventure into AR!
Diego started in menswear, and progressed to genderless clothing which evolved into a fashion laboratory. The laboratory is run by five equal, but very different, partners. Each taking on a different role like marketing, coding, designing. They have three brands in the laboratory, the artisanal brand, Ladriart, which is made from upcycled thrifted clothes and fabrics, a Ladribasics brand that sells one of a kind tunics and socks, and their Ladritunics line that incorporates AR in the designs. Every line is made from recycled and upcycled fabrics, even recycling Ladriart into their other lines. They use craftsman and artisans from Peru and let them set the price, supporting age-old crafts and supporting the Peruvian fashion market. Each piece is more like art than fashion as the laboratory aims to connect art and fashion as fashion evolves.
Diego had come prepared wearing the newest brand from his laboratory. His shirt was brilliant and vibrant, and completely digital! The lab’s new foray into AR includes developing an app that interacts with your clothes. In this instance, the app finds certain markers on the shirt (up cycled polyester by the way) to track and will signal a certain pattern on the screen on the app. The best part of their app is that every design is different! The user is able to tap the screen again to add more graphics to the screen, the options are endless. Ladrondeguevara has not only developed tunics but hand painted hats that interact with their app as well!
At one point I asked Diego why did the laboratory decide to be ethical and sustainable, and why jump into AR, he simply said, ‘brands need to continue to evolve, or you don’t leave a legacy in your industry.’ A simple way to put one of the most progressive brands, in technology and sustainability, that I have seen!
Ladrondeguevara is an evolving process and Diego was kind enough to answer some questions about their sustainable and AR process.
What was the push for you to start your own brand?
The necessity to express our ideas and our context here in Peru and Latin America. As a Latin American based project, we also pursue the importance of decolonizing the design of its usual creation places in order to evolve everyone as a global industry.
What inspired you for your most recent collection?
Recently, we have understood that Ladrondeguevara is not a usual fashion brand. It is a garment laboratory that looks forward to present and future making practices. In order to accomplish that is that we have horizontalized our company and the importance of the people that is part of Ladrondeguevara and we have divided our space of creation into three circular lines that need one another: Ladron art/ is/ anal/ that makes unique up cycled and experimental pieces, Ladribeisics which is our more simplified product line that offers cotton not-so-basic basics and Ladritunics which is the line that uses up cycled and intelligent polyester fabrics with a strong approach into digital printing and also uses AR (augmented reality) technology in order to emphasize the necessity of co designing the pieces with our users.
Can you go over your designs and how they are sustainable?
They are sustainable because we use up cycling processes; up cycled, repurposed and intelligent fabrics and also technology as a media to emphasize the importance of our users in the design processes (co-design). Also, we consider ourselves an ethical project that respects the artisans and coworkers we work along.
Are your designs made by you or artisans in Peru?
Our designs are made by us and by artisans in Peru. Also, we are very close to our makers so we don´t impose a price for their work, we recognize their work so they are the ones who put the making prices for their own work.
You seem to be inspired by Latin America Youth, can you tell me more about why they inspire you and how that translates to genderless clothes?
Ladrondeguevara is a YOUTHFUL, IRREVERENT and LATIN
Youth is not an age status. It is our persistent and constant desire to grow and never feel ourselves whole. It might have been due to postmodernism traumas or digital surroundings, but youth and its duty to question itself almost most of the time is something that captures our project DNA. Youth and its responsibility to change social behaviors or political structures along our human history.
Latinamerican-remix is a neologism we as a brand are trying to pursue our ancient cultures legacy have almost disappeared as a result of colonization in the 15th century. As an emergent fashion region, Latin America is beginning to understand its own individuality in a global and digital industry. But at the same time, we are still repeating aesthetic formulas that are no longer what fashion is about on a new century.
We consider ourselves irreverent since we love to be sarcastically against these repeated formulas, and in our visual speeches we love to take responsibility for our own mistakes as a Latin-American society.
Traditions, ceremonies linked to certain religious believes (that are not necessarily ours), the gender gap, our lack of individuality and our constant habit to become other global regions are some of the topics we enjoy to question in our visual, garment and photographic DNA.
At the same time, we find the beauty in this controlled chaos we live in. Encapsulated in urbanizations and cities that aren´t strategically planned. The coexistence of aesthetics is our individuality. We love to find the details in this controlled chaos and push them outside its boundaries. Playing with the elements that compose our urban habitats and landscapes and turn them into our voice, our way to express what our region needs to say in the global environment we are part of.
Ladrondeguevara will launch their AR app at Festilove in November in Lima, Peru. If you can visit them and test out their new app for yourselves! We can’t wait to see what is next for the Labratory and in the meantime I’m waiting to buy my hat!
Diego is also launching a book about open methodology in fashion design with one of his fellow fashion laboratorians, “Red” Danielle Choroco. The book is: Multifocal Garment Processes, Theory and practice in Latin American Projects in the 21st Century. If you want to find out more about Ladrondeguevara and the fashion industry in Latin America buy a copy!