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When the idea becomes reality: academic projects turned into a brand (IED Madrid edition)

By Sandra Bódalo Munuera


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Credits: Reparto’s “Pausa Comercial Vol. 05” collection

Valencia - Studying always involves dreams waiting to be fulfilled. It doesn't matter whether it's a university degree, a master degree or vocational training. They may be more or less realistic, but the last day of class marks the beginning of a student's important new phase in life: entering the professional world.

For many students, entering the job market will mean going on Linkedin and looking at job offers within a company. However, for those who have studied fashion design, the challenge often lies in setting up their own brand.

In this second chapter of "When the idea becomes reality", we focus on the master thesis and bachelor thesis of former students of the Istituto Europeo di Design Madrid (IED Madrid). For Eduardo Sánchez, Director of the Fashion School of the institution, "it is really gratifying to see the success of our students and how their projects materialise into real fashion labels. Seeing students become successful industry professionals is one of the greatest rewards of our work".

Reparto, Morle, Viguri Haro, Marlo Studio and Paula Ulargui are five examples of how an idea conceived in a classroom can become a reality. For Sánchez - who was also recently a member of the jury of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Talent, the prize for emerging designers awarded at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid (MBFWMadrid), the award that supports emerging national talent - comments that the "secret of success" is none other than "understanding the demands of the market" and "incorporating solid business strategies into their proposals” so they have a better chance of succeeding.

However, in an industry as complete and competitive as the fashion industry, he also points out that "perseverance and the ability to adapt are also key values, and those who can adjust to emerging trends have a greater chance of becoming consolidated brands".


Credits: Designers Ana Viglione and Margil Peña at the place "where Reparto was born". An image that was part of the brand identity of their final Bachelor project 2017-2018.

Reparto was the result of Margil Peña and Ana Viglion's final degree project, a sort of diary filled with characters and anecdotes from the last year of their degree in Fashion Design (2017-2018). During their education, they learned a lot about themselves, "to be critical of our work, to go without sleep, and to enjoy our last years of freedom. If we had to choose one thing, it would undoubtedly be our group of friends, from whom we learned the most. Together we felt invincible," recall the founders nostalgically. Both claim that their initial idea was met with scepticism, due to its arty, punk, and caricature style. "Humour has always been the tricky part of Reparto; people in this industry find it hard to laugh and make fun of their profession for fear of being undervalued. Now, there are luxury brands that do intelligent humour, and it has become normalised, but in 2017 it was not cool, at least not in Spain," they assert. Regardless, their brand not only consolidated itself but ended up parading on Madrid's emerging fashion runway and winning the Allianz EGO Confidence in Fashion award in September 2022. An award that also offered them the opportunity to design the new uniforms for the ARCO Madrid fair team.

When asked if they still see themselves reflected in those former fashion design students, Margil and Ana have no doubts. "We always knew it would be a brand that would mature with us and we promised not to close ourselves off to anything. Our weakness is our strength, our style fluctuates, changes, and evolves, and that makes the brand's strength not reside in its aesthetics, but in building community and telling stories." A community they have forged through their team and collaborators, but also their professional peers and contemporaries. In November last year, they released a first video about their project "I Love Spanish Fashion", a guerrilla marketing act that invited reflection during Black Friday. "It's a movement that encompasses and values design, creating community among young Spanish designers or those residing in Spain," they tell FashionUnited. And, although it was initially an action focused on their own brand, Reparto, after a couple of campaigns "we came up with the idea to take a family photo of almost thirty emerging designers and at that moment it became an independent project". The definitive proof that "the more, the merrier" —as they said on their Instagram account— and that competition doesn't have to be the rule that marks national fashion.

Credits: Group photo of 27 designers (22 brands) within the @ilovespanishfashion movement.


Credits: Images of the collection 001 Dysmorphia by Morle

Jorge Moreno is the creative director and founder of the brand Morle, created in 2021 as part of his training at IED Madrid. It all started with his final degree project to continue developing the same concept in his final master's project. Although the idea of having a brand always scared him due to the time and dedication it requires, Jorge has learned "to dedicate the necessary time, always in the right measure. I am still in the process of shaping it, but I believe it is something that will always be in constant transformation," he says. Innovation and inclusivity are two of his main values, as his garments "do not focus exclusively on the morphology of women, but seek to go a step further and create pieces for anyone regardless of gender."

In September 2021, the designer from Segovia made his grand debut in the capital with his participation in the Allianz EGO runway. An experience he describes as "beautiful, but not always possible to make such a big effort". That is why, since then, he has opted to present his proposals using alternative methods to the traditional fashion show, although he admits that "he is looking forward to returning to the runway". Meanwhile, he continues designing, "slowly and as sustainably as possible" and transmitting his personal sense of reconstructed and conceptual elegance, "allowing for the free individual development of each person".

Viguri Haro

Credits: Spring/Summer 2024 collection by Viguri Haro

Juan Fernández decided to honour his grandmothers and combined their two surnames to create Viguri Haro, his own fashion brand. A brand that began during his degree studies at the Escuela Superior de Diseño de La Rioja (ESDIR) and the Master's in Fashion Design at IED Madrid, but which was fully formed after working with national brands such as The 2nd Skin Co. or Mans Concept. After passing through their workshops, Fernández realised that he wanted to focus 100 percent on his project. He wanted "to create a benchmark for sustainable fashion made in Spain, where absolutely all the processes involved in creating a piece are integral in Spain, from the materials to the manufacturing". A challenge that, as he admits, "is very very difficult due to costs and production, but we are gradually fighting to make it a reality".

Credits: Left: Image of Viguri Haro's final master project for IED Madrid. Right: Custom by Viguri Haro for the influencer Paula Ordovás.

Another great lesson he has learned from his journey is the importance of daily struggle and perseverance. "Fashion is a very complicated business, dominated by multinationals selling garments at laughable prices. Making people aware of the cost of making a garment and why it is priced as such is one of the most complicated aspects," admits the creative director of Viguri Haro. In this time, he has already paraded on the Basque runway Gastéiz On and has also designed custom pieces for influencers like Paula Ordovás. For him, as for so many other professionals, "preparing a fashion show is very stressful, but it's one of the processes I enjoy the most". Although he does not rule out presenting his next collections through other artistic formats such as a fashion film or a photo shoot. For now, his goal is to be true to oneself and maintain his style while, at the same time, managing the balance between conceptual and commercial. Creating "spectacular garments can fill you a lot artistically and intellectually and is necessary when developing your brand, your image, and your identity; but we must not forget that this is a business and we need to sell to survive and continue growing," he concludes.

Marlo Studio

Credits: Marlo Studio's Fall/Winter 2023/2024 "Midnight Summer" catwalk show.

Marlo Studio first saw the light of day in September 2019, specifically on the day of its graduation runway show at IED Madrid. There, its creator Marcio Lopes learned everything he knows about fashion and branding, "I arrived with a dream and plenty of enthusiasm, becoming a sponge, thoroughly enjoying all the classes and trying to retain all the information they taught me,” he recalls. For him, it all began with a collection of twelve looks, until he realised he had “a brand in the making”. His excitement was such that he admits to having lived “for and by the dissertation. My project was well advanced, and I started adding accessories, packaging, developed the logo…”. In essence, Marlo emerged in a very organic way, “things just flowed. A collection that has grown and now is a brand, my job and the work of the entire team that is part of this dream,” he shares. What's next? After its shows in the OFF schedule of Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Madrid, the next step is to take the brand international, specifically to Brazil. There, “we have already participated in Fashion Week and are gradually making our way into the market”.

Paula Ulargui

Credits: Blooming Collection, a capsule collection by the Brazilian brand Martins, on which Paula Ulargui has collaborated with her research.

Unlike the previous cases, Paula Ulargui's goal was not focused on creating a fashion brand, but on sending a global message: “to reconnect the world with nature”. Her intention was always to be part of the change and use fashion as a link to recover that conscious and close relationship with the planet. The result of her Final Degree Project was “Siamese Skins. Two natures, one body”, a study based on three lines of research: symbiotic nature, commensalism and mutualism, and a selection of ephemeral garments, dependent on “how much and how you care for them. It could even be a therapy in itself” for the individual or the end customer. Just as we talk about taking care of our clothes and extending their durability as a sustainable practice, “this would be the same, taking care of both the garments and the plants living on them”, Paula explains.

Loewe. Spring Summer 2023, Menswear. Credits: ©Launchmetrics/Spotlight

“An impact exercise,” as she defines it, which was the germ of what is today her sustainable textile research studio. A project that quickly moved beyond the classroom and caught the attention of major brands like Loewe. Undoubtedly, working with the LVMH group brand during Paris Fashion Week was a turning point in her career. The result? The incorporation of living plants into the blazers, sneakers, and jeans of J.W. Anderson's menswear collection for the Spring/Summer 2023 season. But Paris was not the only international fashion week to be added to her resume. At Sao Paulo Fashion Week, she partnered with Brazilian designer Tom Martins to create the capsule collection ‘Blooming Collection’. Now, the future only asks to “continue working, researching, and collaborating” because she feels that is the real challenge for her personal project. She has moved beyond the phase of wanting to “create or offer a product” and now her highest aspiration is to “expand this message” and contribute to a better future.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.ES. Translation and edit from Spanish into English by Veerle Versteeg.

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