As the designer, creative director and CEO of Chavez Fashion, Antonio Chavez has not only gained a huge amount of attention in the US and Canada, he's gone on to make his mark in the UK. Here, he takes us through his empowering journey, some of the early challenges he's faced in the fashion industry, plus more.
Osazeme Osaghae: Hi Antonio, thank you for interviewing with me today!
Antonio Chavez: Hi Osazeme! It’s a real pleasure, thank you for having me!
Osaghae: How does Chavez differ from other fashion brands?
Chavez: We focus on unconventional designs; fusing avant-garde with wearable practicality. Most designers create pieces that resemble what you would normally see at the shopping mall. Our designs are more for show business, entertainment, and spectacles. I think that's why our brand does so well in runway fashion shows, and why celebrities and public figures become so intrigued with our brand. Our designs speak very loudly making a statement and the wearer stand out.
Osaghae: I noticed your designs standing out during London Fashion Week. Would you say you've always wanted to be a fashion designer?
Chavez: Not at first. I began as a shoe designer for men and women, but mostly women. And I was very keen on changing the footwear market by innovating and inventing new ways of wearing shoes. One of my active inventions right now involves the ability to transform your shoes with interchangeable straps on the ankles and toes. And so, the idea is that there would be hundreds or even thousands of ankle and toe straps that women could then mix and match and create their own unique combinations to fit their style thus fit the occasion. For almost two years now, I realised I needed to pursue everything in fashion. Now I've become a shoe designer, a couture designer and I'm pleased to say there'll be a Kids version coming very soon to the mainstream market across North America and Western Europe.
Osaghae: That's amazing to hear! It must have taken a lot of perseverance and dedication to get to where you are today. Can you tell us about some of the early challenges you faced starting out in the industry?
Chavez: There were quite a few. But I think the one that stands out the most, was my own personal fear of going public. It was that fear of rejection, fear of people not accepting or appreciating my artistic ways. Even after almost two years, and despite the overwhelming success we have experienced, I still have these dreading moments of whether or not people or audiences will like what I have to show, although it's definitely nowhere near as bad as it was in the beginning. Another challenge that also stands out is the financial situation that you put yourself in. It takes a lot of guts and courage to invest everything you have, into a project and future that has no guarantees. That's one of the scariest things, I think, that anyone starting their own business, brand, or company would go through.
Osaghae: I agree. To set out on a business venture takes a great amount of courage. Some of my favourite fashion designers are very courageous. What's been your favourite 'fashion designer' moment so far?
Chavez: It was the moment when I realized what the 'Chavez' brand stood for, and what our image to the world would be. And finally, being able to present that in reality on the runway. This was one of the most memorable experiences of my career with Chavez. Our first major, international show was with House of iKons in September 2018. I will always remember how I felt that day when I showcased one of my first official collections and the enormous amount of support and acceptance that came after. It was a huge weight off my shoulders and such great relief, more moments like this.
Osaghae: Many designers gain inspiration by looking to others. Which designers would you say you look up to?
Chavez: When I look at Celebrities like Paris Hilton, Lady Gaga, Thalia, and other extravagant music or movie stars, I get motivated to create designs that these incredible women would wear. I always aim to create designs to make women feel like Queens and forces of unstoppable power. I believe my designs really exude that kind of attitude and mindset. Often times, my ideas just come from deep within, and also from my own culture and heritage of Guatemalan and Mayan ancestry.
Osaghae: When he's not working, what can we find Antonio doing?
Chavez: Designing, all day, all night! It's honestly a very serene and calm experience for me. It actually helps relieve stress and I find it very enjoyable and entertaining. If not that, I'll usually be with my nephew grabbing ice-cream or eating at restaurants. I like to travel back home, to Guatemala every now and then, and just remember my culture and heritage.
Osaghae: Nothing beats travelling back home and being around family.
Where do you see your brand in the next 5 years?
Chavez: Hopefully at the top of the fashion industry. Working with Celebrities, having showrooms and boutiques in Los Angeles (which we are currently working on for 2020!), and also, I just hope I'm still designing and enjoying it. So far, there's no sign of me stopping! *Laughs*
Osaghae: As you know, evolution is necessary for survival. How do you see the fashion industry evolving?
Chavez: I think it depends on the brand. When you look at House of iKons, for example, they are pushing for 'inclusiveness', which is something that not many mainstream fashion shows do. But with Chavez, we really are trying to make some level of change in terms of the entertainment factor, which I think we are doing very.
Osaghae: I totally agree. Very, very well! Nobody becomes successful alone. You must have had a great team to help you get to where you are today. If you were to thank anyone for where you are today, who would that be?
Chavez: I definitely would not have gotten this far without my team. My business partners, Victor Gonzales, who is the Vice President of Chavez, and Mauricio Mejia, who is the Director of Production and Manufacturing, and Melissa Alvarado, who is our CFO and Director of Administration. We're a small team, but together when we combine our skills and talents, we become this unstoppable force. It's crazy to think how far we have come in just two years, and with only a total of 4 people. So, a huge thanks go to my teammates for supporting me since the beginning. We had nothing in the beginning. Their trust and belief in me never faded; never faltered. And together, we will continue to grow.
Osaghae: Do you have any advice for those wanting to take the plunge into the fashion industry to start their own entrepreneurial adventure?
Chavez: It won't be easy. In fact, it might be one of the most difficult things you could ever pursue in your life. Be prepared to get knocked down over, and over, and over again for the first few years. You need to build as many relationships as you can with people. That's the only way you can make it. People are the most valuable resource in this pursuit of entrepreneurship, especially in the fashion industry. It's all about who you know, and who those people know, and the line keeps going. Also, commit yourself to anything and everything that you think will help you in the near and distant future.
Osaghae: At Davi Magazine, we like to ask our interviewees, if you had the opportunity to give your younger self advice, to save yourself from future heartache and pain, what would it be?
Chavez: Trust in the people you are working with. In the beginning, it was difficult for me to trust my partners. I always felt like I could do everything myself, or that I needed to do everything myself for it to be right. But almost always, your teammates know better, and they possess the knowledge and skills required to take on certain challenges or obstacles. I always say that “Success is a combination of talents”, and this still holds true to this day.
You can keep up-to-date with Chavez Here.
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