A move does a body good. Fashion designer Isabel Varela (a Southwest Louisiana native) is making the move to the “big city”. New York City, that is. Currently located in Dallas until her July 1st relocation date, Isabel has created clothing under her label, IZAVEL since 2011. Described as “fashion-forward details with stark asymmetric silhouettes which work together to bring a unique twist to each of her designs”, her Spring 2013 collection is versatile and transitional and shows structured suits mixed with drapey and flowy garments that create looks that progress from day to night.
Let’s meet Isabel Varela.
Q: Tell me about your Spring/Summer 2013 collection.
A: The print I did (is) an abstract road map presenting different paths you take in life. I added some color in the line and stayed consistent with the silhouettes and drape-y pieces that you can take from day to night. Each piece is versatile and you can wear it with other pieces in the collection. Each season I create my own print and that is something I will continue to do.
Q: Who do you design for when creating your collections?
A: I like designing separates because they are easy transition pieces that can go from day to night. A lot of small, surprise details with elements of menswear. The detail and the handwork – adding different elements of that throughout the collection. Also working to have more structure in the garments, having the clothing do the work instead of the woman doing the work for you. And that’s where the brand is transitioning, so it is even more powerful.
Q: Are you surprised to see what people respond to from you think will be the biggest hit?
A: For Spring 2013, I assumed they would gravitate to the romper or maybe the white dress with print. But everyone gravitated to a button down shirt with a slit on the side that I structured more and the jacket. I thought, “ok this is kind of cool.” Always learning.
Q: What is your dream for your brand? How has your brand changed since you first started out?
A: My dream for my brand is to: I want IZAVEL to be a well known brand in 100+ exclusive boutiques globally and have flagship stores in: New York, Dallas, Los Angeles, New Orleans, and one in either Belgium or Paris. I also want to be in 3 showrooms and have an office in Dallas and in New York! I also have ideas for having a huge online presence as well but that is in the works!
Eventually, once my business is profitable, I want to continue the work my grandmother was doing and begin a foundation in which we will build orphanages and schools for children and help them in realizing their dreams.
Q: Can you tell me about your Project Runway experience, we heard you did very well in the casting?
A: I wanted to apply for Project Runway because:
1. It is a great experience because I learn from each interview every time and also feel more confident to speak about my line and about myself in general
2. Being on Project Runway would be a huge platform where the line could be seen by more people and could also bring in a range of business opportunities!
The experience got better each time! Last year I made it to the final interviews BUT didn’t get the last call back to move forward to be on the show!! I was pretty bummed but knew I am just going to keep trying!
On the last interview, I understood more about how they are looking to cast different characters for the show. The character they wanted to cast me as was the really scattered designer but am glad I didn’t play along with it because that does not look good for business!
Q: If you weren’t a designer what would you be doing?
A: The one time I thought about not being a designer and pursuing more of the retail side, my intuition said,’’ I don’t think so!!’’ so immediately realized (again) that this is what I have always wanted to do. Eventually I will tie my love for philanthropy, health, and wellness to fashion!
Q: How do you decide how many pieces to put in your collection?
A: I set out a budget for each collection, and I also see which silhouette has been working and selling the best and build from there. I would like to eventually have about 30 pieces to my collection to have a wider range of choices for buyers and for showrooms.
Q: Making your clothing locally is expensive, why did you decide to go this route being a young designer?
A: It is, but definitely worth it! For starters, I have more control of quality and making sure things are getting done correctly immediately versus having to consistently ship overseas and having to wait 3 to 4 weeks to see if the product has been sewn correctly. It also helps in boosting the local economy and supplying more jobs!
Q: What makes Izavel different from other brands?
A: Izavel has a sense of joy, empowerment and individuality and brings a modern unexpected twist to classic silhouettes. Each piece can stand on its own or can be versatile with other pieces in the collection. Every season a custom graphic print is developed into a fabric which brings an exclusive feel.
Q: How has it been going out on your own/doing your own label?
A: It’s been a challenge, but it’s something that I’ve always wanted to do. It’s cool because along the way you get people that are really supportive and will help you out (publicist, intern, website guy) you start building a little team and everyone is willing to stick with you. My next move is New York.
Q: So you are planning to move to NYC?
A: I want to get experience with big production and actually be in the fashion hub (NY) and that’s one step that I haven’t taken yet that I want to, so that is the next step. Getting a job with a designer and (in the next 6 months) bringing my brand up there.
Q: How do you plan on getting your name out there? What is your plan of attack?
A: Going to different events and visiting different stores. Setting up appointments with different stores who are willing to help emerging designers and meeting with them. Also Applying to different competitions shows, you may get grant money…. Everything I’m doing here, but xs 10 because I’m going at it as ‘this is what I want to do’…..more focused because I’ve been growing and learning.
Q: Anyone you admire in the fashion industry?
A: Just to name a few people in the industry that I admire are Diane Von Furstenberg, Donna Karan and Anna Wintour. These women are also mixing their love of fashion and philanthropy and helping the industry through different aid for emerging designers!