Pep TrapielloBerlin's rising fashion star
28 June 2019
Pep Trapiello and his eponymous fashion label are set to take the Berlin fashion world by storm.
His seasonal collections highlight the importance of gender-neutral designs and sustainable materials, which, in an age of conscious consumption, is a hot commodity.
In conversation with YEOJA, the 30-year-old designer speaks on life in Madrid and Amsterdam, unpaid internships, his inspirations, and what the future holds for the Berlin-based brand.
Tell us about your first steps into fashion design growing up in the Canary Islands.
Pep: Since I was little, I imposed the way I wanted to dress. My mom always remembers how hard it was trying to get me into certain styles. In my young age, I had to customize lots of clothes to have an alternative look. In that time, it was very difficult to find special pieces in such a small and isolated place.
What were some of the stark differences in your approach to fashion design when you moved to Madrid?
Pep: When I moved to Madrid I experienced, for the first time, living in a big city full of fashion and creative people. I was inspired by all the people I met through my time there. I guess diversity and urban tribes was a big part of the differences.
When did you leave Spain and why did you settle in Berlin?
Pep: I left Spain in 2013, moved to Amsterdam after finishing my studies in Fashion Design. I refused to do endless non-paid internships and I could not find a job without experience in my field. After that, I came to Berlin because I thought it was a city where I could develop my personal project on the scale I wanted.
You’ve described your initial designs as “architectural and ‘sculptoric’ concepts.” Can you elaborate on that?
Pep: After I finished my studies in Fashion Design, I felt I needed to distance myself from it, and so I started to study sculpture, a field I always loved. After that, I have used a lot of concepts of this doctrine in order to design garments.
Arguably, silhouettes and shapes are the label’s strong suit. The SS15 collection plays with materials and elongated waistlines while the more recent, Capsule 2, fuses bold prints and billowing shapes. Tell us about your creative process when designing a collection.
Pep: I learned, in my own way, to develop my projects. First, I start with the materials. Those materials, textures, and colours drive my creativity to create the actual pieces and garments. Once all the pieces are done, I come to the conclusion of the concept and I develop all the art direction.
Your FW17 collection stood out to me, particularly your use of maroons and blues in a season where orange and brown is rather dominant. Can you talk a little about your artistic decisions?
Pep: I work with a huge limitation as a sustainable designer. I can’t always get the fabrics I would like or need. I solve collections by working with this limitation. It is a puzzle that plays a big part in my artistic decisions.
Berlin is a city often associated with ’90s Adidas sportswear, fetish gear, and black clothing. Through your label, how have you bypassed these aesthetic signifiers?
Pep: I am a strong believer that Berlin has many scenes unseen.
Do you have any thoughts on Berlin Fashion Week and its relationship to local designers? Are you at all concerned with Berlin’s mark in the global fashion industry?
Pep: Sadly, I have no connection or awareness about Berlin Fashion Week.
Alternatively, do you have any thoughts on genderless fashion and how such a concept might influence up-and-coming designers as well as the consumer market?
Pep: I think we live in a strong political moment where ideas are in constant conflict with each other. Concepts like genderless clothing help to unify differences. As a designer who puts a product on the market, I feel the responsibility to send a message through it.
I’m intrigued by your push for sustainable and eco-friendly fashion. We’ve seen a significant interest in this among Berlin designers (i.e. Melisa Minca) and of course among consumers. How is your label working to promote these values longterm?
Pep: Every sustainable designer use different techniques to make this industry better. In my case, I use only dead fabrics. Fabrics that are out of market, overstock, and so on. I try to save them from being wasted. I produce everything locally and in my studio at the moment. I like to have a direct relationship with the customer.
Out of curiosity, do you have a particular audience or muse in mind when drawing up design ideas?
Pep: My main muses are my friends, people I know and their stories. I have a strong community of people with a similar taste in Berlin.
I get the sense that your label is inspired by the community around you. I’m interested in your thoughts on “diversity” becoming a popular buzz word fashion-adjacent spaces. How do you create something for your community without pandering or downplaying your creative vision?
Pep: I believe my community is an endless inspiration source. Society changes every day and gives you hints on how to follow the creative way.
What has been your biggest lesson thus far in starting your own label?
Pep: The biggest lesson is that fashion as a designer solo project is part of the past. Fashion schools should focus on promoting co-operative projects.
What’s next for Pep Trapiello and what can supporters of your work expect to see?
Pep: Cheesy colours and flowers.