Our women designers series is an on-going project to highlight innovative designers across the world that incorporate YKK® products into their unique creations. In this installment, we introduce you to 21-year-old fashion design student Lina Gómez from Bello, Antioquia - Colombia. Lina is a student at the Colegiatura Colombiana Institute where she's pursuing a degree in Fashion Design. She is also one of the winners of the 2018 Arts of Fashion Foundation Competition that took place in San Francisco, California. We asked Lina to share with us about her experience in the competition, her creative process, plans for the future and more.
Tell us about your experience in the world of fashion, where you grew up, your hobbies, the name of your school, etc.
Reading and drawing are my two great hobbies. I grew up in the chaos that surrounds an artist and the order of a systems engineer. My dad is an artist and it was thanks to him that I began to be interested in that creative side from a very early age. I inherited my taste for fashion from my maternal grandparents: my grandfather dedicated his entire life to the textile industry and my grandmother was almost always sitting at her weaver or at the sewing machine. At that time I was not so aware of the impact that all this was having on me; it was later, when I grew up that I began to understand where that taste and passion came from. I remember one day when my mother came with a toy sewing machine (I still have it) and from there I think I decided that being a fashion designer was what I wanted to be. I was so curious and passionate about it that I never stopped to think of a "plan B" in case it didn't happen. I grew up and learned to look at the world in very different ways to how we are traditionally told that we should look at it and every time I wanted to tell something or vent, for me the best way to do it was by creating. All those looks have been the ones that represent everything I do today. In 2015 I graduated from high school and did not immediately go to university; on the contrary, I gave myself a semester, as a kind of pause. After that, I decided to enter the Colegiatura Colombiana Institute to train as a fashion designer. I am currently in the last year of my degree. I owe a lot to the school for what I am as a designer and as a human being.
"I grew up and learned to look at the world in very different ways to how we are traditionally told that we should look at it and every time I wanted to tell something or vent, for me the best way to do it was by creating. "
Share a bit about your creative process ... What inspires you?
I constantly fill myself with visual, tactile and even auditory material that inspires me. In a certain way, everything that happens to me, what I touch, what I see, what I hear, the things that I think ... everything converges and impacts directly or indirectly on my creative process and on the way in which that is transmitted to the result final. I still can't define exactly what that creative process is like, because it doesn't happen the same way twice. There are things that work very well at first and then they don't work so well. However, there are factors that are always present and that is that I am very manual; it seems to me that this is a connection that technology cannot give me. I like to explore with different materials, and illustration - that is something that is always present. The creative process is my favorite part, because that is where the questions and challenges arise and that is when I learn the most. Besides, I find it fascinating that it is endless; Well, one thing always leads to another.
What is your advice to other young people like you who want to study or pursue a professional career in the world of fashion?
I would tell them that dreams come true to the extent that you are permanently building them. That they need to believe in themselves, and they should always be willing to listen and learn from others. This is a career of great dedication, a lot of patience, focus and discipline, and it involves many challenges. Be attentive and responsive. Above all, enjoy this race and allow yourself to make mistakes. They should go beyond what's taught in the classroom, they should always go further. Don't settle on the first creative idea. On the contrary, question it! Finally, do not settle: Work every day to be better.
"This is a career of great dedication, a lot of patience, focus and discipline, and it involves many challenges. Be attentive and responsive."
What kind of products and textures would you like to incorporate into your designs?
I am open to exploring and today I am challenged by the conditions of the world. I am concerned about industrial waste. I would like my work to be characterized as much as possible by contributing to the world something much deeper than just aesthetics.
What are some of the new fashion trends in Latin America that have inspired you?
Interest in artisan traditions and biodiversity. There is a new conscious awakening about how we consume. And with the circumstances that we are living now with this pandemic, we are beginning to value what we did not before. I would like to say that beyond fashion trends, Latin America inspires me with its color palette, the potential and warmth of people, the diversity of its ecosystems, its ethnic richness, its sounds. In Colombia, my country, there is a cultural and political diversity that invites and forces us to think.
"I would like to say that beyond fashion trends, Latin America inspires me with its color palette, the potential and warmth of people, the richness of its ecosystems, its ethnic richness, its sounds."
Tell us about your participation in the Arts of Fashion Foundation competition and how was your experience.
It was incredible. Galleries of a Human Labyrinth is a collection that has a lot of meaning for me. It is, among many other things, that collection that taught me not to underestimate time, not to trust my talents or take them for granted, and above all, to really believe in myself. I participated with this collection in 2018 under the Transgression theme, thanks to the fact that my teacher Santiago proposed it to me. My university has been participating for several years, and it seemed great to me, but I had never considered the possibility of participating myself. To me it was a completely enriching and unique experience. When I submitted my portfolio to apply, I already felt that I had won a lot of things. I never imagined that I could be one of the 50 finalists. You never imagine that your work will be alongside great talents from around the world. I could not attend the final, but I remember that I looked for the other finalists to tell me what was happening, wish them luck, congratulate them… among them I found a Mexican designer, Karina, with whom I became close friends. She is very talented and it was she who told me at the end of the day that I had been selected as one of the winners. At that moment, I did not assimilate it. It was the next day when I woke up with a message from my teacher and another from my career manager congratulating me and telling me that I was going to India that I realized it was real.
I just cried from happiness and screamed a couple of times. I do not forget what I felt and when I think about everything that happened before, during and after all this experience, I continue to get excited. That the people you admire recognize and admire your work is priceless. I remember that I had a very, very short but very significant conversation on Instagram with Felipe Oliveira Baptista, who was one of the judges for that edition and that seemed surreal to me. It is one of those things that I will never forget. From the first moment I participated, going through the moment when I was awarded until when I had finished my internship at Manish Arora and returned to Colombia, I feel that it has been the experience with which I have grown the most personally and professionally. Nathalie Doucet and the entire team at AOFF, YKK, and all the people behind who make all of this happen, do a truly tireless job and are interested in creating a network of creatives and supporting them. I find it fascinating because they really bet on emerging talents and when they say they celebrate it, they really celebrate it. I summarize it in that there were several dreams coming true at the same time. I will always be grateful for all of it.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years professionally?
I see myself being happy in whatever I'm doing. I have 4 brands / designers that I dream of working with and learn to the fullest. Specializing in other areas of design that I am very passionate about and finding other ways to tell my narratives from know-how and why not, launching my brand. I see myself full of projects shared with other people.