The Fashionable Activist: Andrew Coimbra:

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While other designers mix colours and fabrics, Andrew Coimbra mixes fashion and activism. Each collection is inspired by a social issue he is drawn to. The young Canadian designer recently released his fourth collection at a party in a boutique hotel bar in downtown Toronto. Shortly afterwards he took part in the following #stmINTERVIEWED.

Read the full Q&A to discover the inspiration behind his Fall/Winter 2016 collection, which big retailer he would love to collaborate with and how an international magazine discovered Andrew Coimbra on Instagram.

(Above photo of Andrew Coimbra: Mckenzie James)


It wasn’t a matter of being told something specific, but rather the opportunity to absorb their process.


Photo: Andrew CoimbraStudio space of designer. Photo: Andrew Coimbra

STM – Why did you choose to pursue a career in the fashion industry?

Andrew – I had wanted to become a designer because I enjoyed the art form. After going to OCADU, I realized I wanted to move forward with a career that would allow me to explore my creativity, and be able to share it with people in the most personal way possible and fashion design was the best fit for that.


Plus, the timeline that they work on is so different from the timelines that Canadian-based companies abide by…


 

Photo: Adam MOco

Models at past show. Photo: Adam Moco

STM – Of the various designers/brands you have worked with, who was one that made a lasting impression? What is the one thing they taught you that really stuck?

Andrew – By far the most impressive experience was working with the design team at Proenza Schouler. It wasn’t a matter of being told something specific, but rather the opportunity to absorb their process, and be able to see how Jack and Lazaro communicated their ideas. Plus, the timeline that they work on is so different from the timelines that Canadian-based companies abide by, so I’ve really tried to make it a point to complete my collections according to international schedules; I’m usually done my collection at least one – if not two – months prior to any Canadian Fashion Week cycles.


I know that they fall into the “fast fashion” realm of things, but I do think that there is an effort made by them (to some degree) to be more of a sincere fashion brand.


Look 11

Fall/Winter 2016.
Photo: Mckenzie James. Grooming: Claudine Baltazar.

Model: Joe Moran (Lang Models)

STM – If you could collaborate with any brand, retailer or designer, who would it be and what do you think that collection would look like?

Andrew – I would love to do a collaborative collection with Top Man. I know that they fall into the “fast fashion” realm of things, but I do think that there is an effort made by them (to some degree) to be more of a sincere fashion brand. The collection would really depend on the trends forecasted, and current state of the world.


They really help me clarify my concepts, and streamline things.


Photo: Andrew Coimbra

Inspiration board. Photo: Andrew Coimbra

STM – Each season you find a topic you want to create dialogue around and use this as the theme to your collection. Your Fall/Winter 2016 collection is in part inspired by the oil spill off of Vancouver in 2015. Why was this topic important to you personally?

Andrew – Well, I am in constant discussion with my close friends and colleagues about the world, and the next best step for the label. They really help me clarify my concepts, and streamline things. In conversation with my friend and collection stylist Nadia Pizzimenti, the idea of oil spills came up. It felt like a nice next step, in terms of offering flexibility to bring the label up a notch, and sure enough a couple of months after this talk there was the oil spill in Vancouver. And then a couple months later another off the coast of California.

I think the topic is so important to me because I am an advocate for social responsibility on all levels, as much as possible. That will always be an undercurrent in the dialogue of my collections, no matter the topic.


I think the main thing would be for everyone – media included, and retailers especially – to start taking Canadian Fashion more seriously as an industry.


Photo: Shayne Gray

Past runway presentation. Photo: Shayne Gray

STM – How did you translate the theme of marine pollution and natural defence into your collection?

Andrew – I used a variety of textured black fabric; slick, soft, buttery leather. I wanted to exude the feeling of not only oil itself, but oil on rocks, oil in water, etc. without hitting people over the head with the concept. The use of squid imagery, squid ink, soda cans and construction fencing/netting are all auxiliary icons of marine pollution, and explore the physical relationship and comparable qualities between marine life and the man-made objects that put it in danger.


No one around the world will ever see the value if we don’t.


Fall/Winter 2016.
Photo: Mckenzie James. Grooming: Claudine Baltazar.

Model: Joe Moran (Lang Models)

STM – Of the looks from your Fall/Winter 2016 look book, which is your personal favourite and why?

Andrew – Oooh, that’s a good question. It’s hard to pick just one… I love the look with the embroidered squid sweater  (I can’t wait to wear it, to be honest), and the orange knit turtleneck look, because it’s such a simple and chic Fall look.

Question 6 PT 2

Fall/Winter 2016.
Photo: Mckenzie James. Grooming: Claudine Baltazar.

Model: Joe Moran (Lang Models)

I also love the mesh bomber because it looks like a classic, arguably standard bomber, but you open it and there is this fantastic graphic lining that echoes the mesh/netting texture of the jacket.


So far, the coolest thing that has happened to me has been as recent as 3 weeks ago (or so) when an editor of Seventeen Magazine e-mailed me saying…


Look 1

Fall/Winter 2016.
Photo: Mckenzie James. Grooming: Claudine Baltazar.

Model: Joe Moran (Lang Models)

STM – What is your opinion of Canadian fashion coverage here in Canada?

Andrew – I feel like Canadian fashion (and its coverage) always gets to this precipice where we’re almost there, and then *poof* the relevance just disappears. I don’t really know how to quell that.

I think the main thing would be for everyone – media included, and retailers especially – to start taking Canadian Fashion more seriously as an industry. No one around the world will ever see the value if we don’t. And there is incredible value here.

600 studio

 Work space of designer. Photo: Andrew Coimbra

STM – Tell us your favourite story about running your own business. 

Andrew – So far, the coolest thing that has happened to me has been as recent as 3 weeks ago (or so) when an editor of Seventeen Magazine e-mailed me saying he found me via Instagram and requested samples for a photoshoot in L.A. I don’t know if the pieces will end up in the editorial, but just being asked by someone at a publication that large, and international, was really cool.


If you are in Toronto, you might find Andrew out on the town dining at La Carnita, Hawker Bar or Banh Mi Boys. If you see him walking down the street and scrolling away on his phone, he is likely on a music blog feeding his music addiction. Keep up with Andrew Coimbra and his work by following @andrewcoimbra on Instagram and see his full current collection by visiting andrewcoimbra.com.

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