Desigual puts the spotlight on young Hispanic design


A phenomenal golden age in the 2000s, iconic muses like Adriana Lima and then… intensive bashing on social networks. Let’s be clear, Desigual has long been a divisive brand. Patchworks of bright colours, overdoses of prints and atypical cuts mixed the opinions of fashionistas. But against all odds, the tide may finally be turning. Now adored by fashionable model Clara Berry, the brand also collaborates with a whole squad of young Hispanic talents such as Miranda Makaroff, Maria Escoté and Estéban Cortazar. A good way to rejuvenate yourself… and the hype.

Desigual, all or nothing?

If there is one thing that can be said about the Desigual brand, it is that it has never left anyone indifferent. Back in the 80s on the island that never sleeps: Ibiza. The Swiss designer Thomas Meyer, barely 20 years old, customised and painted T-shirts that he sold to holidaymakers at the height of the festivities. In 1984, he already adopted upcycling by creating a successful jacket: a patchwork semi-bomber made from an old stock of jeans. He named it “Desigual” or “pas pareil” in French. The story was launched and the singular collections with their colourful fabrics were born. The brand’s objective? To celebrate diversity and creativity. The young people in search of individuality and extravagant pieces flocked to the numerous sales outlets that were set up from Spain to the four corners of the world.

The designer went so far as to obtain the Disney licence and was thus able to affix the famous Mickey Mouse or Donald Duck to his creations. Desigual moves forward as a free electron and emancipates itself from the trends to propose a joyful and uncomplicated fashion. But this is not to everyone’s taste. While the normcore trend is making its way, adopted by all the it-girls, Desigual’s non-conformism is hitting the bull’s eye. So much so that some consider it “unimportant”, even at the height of bad taste. Facebook groups such as “fuck desigual” appeared, while punchlines followed one another on Twitter until they became memes. The most famous? “My daughter threw up on my Desigual shirt. No way of knowing where”. Desigual’s reputation was then marred by a monumental bashing. And if the fan base resists, it will take more than that for the Spanish brand to rise again.

A 360° turnaround

In 2015, it began a real restructuring plan: logo, brand image and distribution were to be more modern. The brand is looking to win back millennials but above all, to make an impression on generation Z. In 2017, it hired the famous artist Jean Paul Goude to take over the artistic direction. Desigual publishes collections with the highly respected Christian Lacroix and then reinterprets its classics such as its iconic patchwork denim bomber flocked with a Mickey. In the process, it signs the young, fashionable Parisian Clara Berry as a perfect muse 2.0. In 2019, Jean Paul Goude ended his collaboration but Desigual hired a new marketing director. Guillem Gallego is far from being a novice. He spent 14 years at Nike and knows the challenges of the sector well. Would the Spanish label finally have an interest in betting on the young creation that Tik-Tok has been praising?

In 2018, it began a collaboration with the Instagrammer and painter Miranda Makaroff. The singular feminist leaves her colourful and political mark on several collections that she designs with audacity. The pieces are unprecedentedly fresh and are offered as eco-responsible ranges. The latest? A hyper-graphic autumn-winter line that features turtleneck mesh tops and black and white denim ensembles. The brand is slowly establishing itself as a patron of new Spanish talent.

In 2020, it repeated the experience, this time with the very popular designer Maria Escoté in its sights. The woman who dresses Rosalia, Zendaya and even Queen Beyoncé has created a collection with streetwear cuts that are perfectly in line with the trend. The maximalist floral motifs are in order, as are the manga inspirations. A few weeks ago, a second collaboration with the Barcelona-based designer took the web by storm: even more fashy, more conceptual and this time, under the sign of the snake.

Not to be outdone, the summer of 2021 will also see an alliance with Colombian designer Esteban Cortázar. Called “Cada dia es para siempre” or “Every day is forever”, the capsule is inspired by the designer’s adolescence in Florida and takes up the work of his father Valentin Cortázar “El beso”. The result? The graphic pieces transpire the vibes of Miami Beach in the 90s-2000s, a liberating time for LGBT clubbing culture. Another good way for the Spanish label to remind its inclusive and arty positioning, as in the early days.

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