To get the right fit, designer Joaquin Trias focuses on proportions, fit, and clothes you can wear forever
Story by Chadner Navarro / Photography by Luis Diaz
Before pursuing a career designing womenswear and hosting runway presentations at New York Fashion Week, Joaquin Trias was training as a professional tennis player. It didn’t take long for our conversation to turn to the world of racquet sports. “Most people in Spain hate me,” Trias, who is based in Madrid, jokes. “Because I prefer Roger Federer to Rafael Nadal. When you watch Federer [on the court] it doesn’t even seem like he’s on the ground. It’s like he’s gliding over it.”
Yes, Federer does have incredible movement, and yes, it is odd that a Spaniard would overlook Nadal for his main rival. But when you see the clothes Trias makes, you immediately understand why he would appreciate Federer’s effortless, flowing style of play over Nadal’s rough, gritty counter-punching.
Autodidact Joaquin Trias insists that his label is built on four significant pillars: respect, perfection, innovation and strength. He sees respect as an overall understanding and appreciation for the process that is required of building a label, from sketching and selecting fabrics to selecting employees and visualizing the woman he designs for. “We want to give her clothes that she can wear for a long time,” the designer adds.
Perfection, however, is a little less theoretical and a lot more tangible. “It’s about the structure, shape and proportions,” he explains. “We are obsessed [with] proportions. It’s like building a house. If the proportions aren’t right, it won’t work.” On the outside, the clothes boast Trias’s minimalist aesthetic (outerwear, for example, don’t even have buttons), but inside, intricate construction abounds, like a stunning coat that’s made with a staggering 120 patterns.
Trias’s debut collection from Spring 2010 showcased several pieces that looked, for a lack of a better word, wet — as if the blouse or dress was coated with a film of water. “Exactly,” Trias animatedly concurs. “The technology is there, but it has to be very organic.” To achieve this synergy, the designer worked with Swiss textile engineers to develop high-tech materials and finishes that give his work a look uniquely its own. Of course, he also uses natural fabrics like wools and silks, but adding a layer of wax to give a skirt just the right amount of heft is just one of the ingenious ways Trias has captured the attention of the industry. Metals are also woven into silk and sturdy textiles line coats to maintain shape.
And though Trias is not the first to pay homage to the strength of a confident woman, his vision is imbued with a forward-thinking twist. “We are talking about the woman of the future, but not futuristic,” he clarifies. “She is attuned to what’s around her, her attitude and her style.”
When these ideas come together, the result is as visually breathtaking as it is incredibly well conceived. “We’ve been described as the thinking woman’s brand,” Trias says. “And I like that.” The fall collection, called “Vertical Strength,” is all about straight lines. Nothing fussy here: the striking palette of blacks, blues and taupes (and the Trias team actually creates its own colors) serve as the perfect backdrop to gorgeously structured dresses, coats, skirts and trousers. Every piece reinforces this linear approach with pleating or contrasting color panels. And there’s nary a full-length sleeve in sight. “We find [the wrist] a really attractive part of the woman’s body,” the designer says. Some pieces are also outfitted with subtle capes, which seem like an excessive detail, but not in context of the inspiration behind Fall 2010’s offerings. “This is like when you go to a forest,” he explains. “The trees are standing one behind the other. That’s what the capes are supposed to resemble.”
Trias, not surprisingly, had a very particular approach on how to enter the fashion industry. For a long time, he didn’t want anyone to see his creations, not the models who wore them (they had to wear blindfolds during fittings), not editors, not anyone. Even at a meeting with Women’s Wear Daily, he brought photographs on his computer rather than samples. It was only when iconic design doyenne Carolina Herrera (a family friend) gave Trias the thumbs up that the fire was finally lit. “She helped us so much,” he says. “When we came back to Madrid [after meeting with Herrera], we knew we had to do it. And she gave great advice. She said to follow the steps. Start from the bottom and build everything.” This reverence to the process and not the final product still exists today. Right now, Trias has no retail presence. The designer first wanted to establish his brand’s identity before filtering it through the demanding financial expectations of sales.
Trias’s line, which is celebrating its second season this Fall, may not have even happened if it wasn’t for a magazine article the designer read while waiting for a tennis session at Nick Bollettieri’s academy (the man who created champions in Monica Seles, Jim Courier and Maria Sharapova). The article was about the genius of Cristobal Balenciaga, which concluded with a quest for both the late designer’s and Spanish fashion’s progeny. “I thought to myself, this is me! That’s me,” Trias reveals with a laugh. And why not him? One of his grandmothers modeled for Balenciaga, so the lineage is certainly there. And if Roger Federer’s calculated fluidity and finesse on the court can lead to a record-breaking 16 Grand Slam titles, why can’t Joaquin Trias’s creative acuity bring him longevity in a fickle industry?