Ones to Watch: 44Studio

Xavi García and Franx de Cristal never really dreamed of creating a brand. And yet, here they are: this season, they presented 44Studio’s 7th collection in Paris for the first time, attracting a fashion crowd including Diane Pernet, Catherine Baba, and Opening Ceremony’s buying team. Clients include profiles as different as Sita Abellán and 90s supermodel Laura Ponte. They are definitely an emerging brand to keep an eye on. Their designs go beyond mere trends and cookie-cutter fashion to explore the meaning of non-gender-binary style. It was impossible not to be intrigued, so we met the duo at their shop in Madrid’s Calle de Valverde (situated opposite their hair salon, which, by the way, is one of the hottest in the Spanish capital) for a little chat.

44STUDIO FW18 presentation in Paris. Picture courtesy of Nowfashion.

It’s been quite a ride for the brand so far, hasn’t it?

Xavi: It has! We didn’t start off with the intention of creating a brand. We opened our hair salon, Salon44, seven years ago, and the shop three years later. We started by carrying brands such as Comme des Garçons and Rick Owens and, in our second season, we decided to create a small capsule collection. It was just seven items – all black and held together with zippers – that could be transformed and restructured at will. 

Franx: We were surprised because it sold really fast, so that inspired us to go further, even if we were terrified at the idea of breaking into fashion without the usual training and background…

What has been the biggest challenge so far?

Xavi: Patternmaking. We were told at the beginning that we could get away without knowing too much about it, but we realized really soon we absolutely could not! So we started learning, and we still are, but in this last collection we are finally truly happy with all the cuts.

Franx: And now the challenge is to establish the brand in the international arena. Which we know will be an organic process, especially since, at this stage, we do everything by ourselves, from setting up the showroom to finding international buyers to PR.

44STUDIO FW18 presentation in Paris. Picture courtesy of Nowfashion.

Will you be sticking to your unisex philosophy?

Xavi: By all means. We have never believed in labels, and in a society in which everything, even the most basic moisturizer, is marketed especially for “men” or “women,” we think it’s important to stand for freedom. Obviously, we work differently with the male and the female body, but nothing is sexier than a woman wearing an oversized masculine coat and a man clad in a skirt or heels.

Franx: And our customer is more than ready for that too: proof is most of our clients so far are men. The new generation has no barriers, especially in Spain. You can walk around anywhere in central Madrid these days and come across more than one boy wearing a full face of makeup and a dress. 

44STUDIO FW18 presentation in Paris. Picture courtesy of Nowfashion.

There is a very special energy in Madrid lately…

Franx: It’s the inception of something quite interesting. It used to be London one would go to in order to see new music and fashion and boys and girls in glam clothes and glitter makeup. 

Xavi: That has changed. It’s like Boombox ended, and the whole thing ended. And there have been a few years with nothing going on, but Madrid is now again full of really international, creative characters.

Franx: Also there’s an extraordinary sense of freedom. Even the kids living in the outskirts of the city are now wearing heels, colourful dresses, and hats. They don’t care if people stare. Most foreigners think Spain is the same as it always was, and, even if in some ways that traditional side is still very much alive, in many others it is incredibly progressive. But you need to come to Madrid to see it for yourself and to feel that energy.

44STUDIO FW18 presentation in Paris. Picture courtesy of Nowfashion.

Do you manufacture all your clothes in Spain?

Xavi: Half in Spain, half in Portugal, in the same factory as Craig Green and Martine Rose.

Franx: To compete with established and respected international brands, we obviously need to commit to the same levels of excellence. Our client is pretty fashion-savvy; we need to offer the best finishings and material quality we can.


See 44Studio's full FW18 collection here