HOLR chats with Fashinnovation Co-Founder Jordana Guimaraes on tackling environmental & ethical obstacles in the fashion industry, advances in techfashion, what COVID did for fashion, revising what fashion stands for, what it can offer the world, and how everyone can help!
What was your past in the industry before you and your husband launched Fashinnvation?
J: The majority of it was 17 years in PR & marketing for in-house, a lot of label companies, a lot of emerging as well. Always tying brands to philanthropy or to some social impact to implement their business model was always kind of my thing. I did that for 17 years and that led me to today. My husband Marcello is my business partner, and he comes from an entrepreneurial background with technology and internationalizing companies. He was with a company called Endeavor in Brazil for his whole career basically, and Endeavor is the largest not for profit that helps companies scale through mentorship program. Fashinnovation was really my expertise, just hitting the ground running with creative ways to get eyes on something and his expertise in the whole entrepreneurial aspect of things – it was the perfect marriage of us to and that’s how we started assembling it. We met for a reason aside from the babies we made.
When you got involved in your career in fashion, you had a certain goal, intention, and dream about the industry, what its going to come across, and what you do in it; what are the way it has changed now?
J: Funny enough, our mission with Fashinnovation was always to bring a community of very diverse individuals. Them being form all over the world was always really important to us, so when we were doing the live events pre-COVID during fashion week in New York, we always had these types of CEO’s, and founders of fashion and tech. Obviously it was in a much smaller scale from what we’ve been able to do since COVID, obviously online you have an unlimited amount of viewers from all over the world. Even pre-COVID our slogan was always “Fashion is to love”. Funny enough, we’ve been around for a little over two years and the fashion is to love concept was doing really well during fashion week and with the live events but it almost feels serendipitous – where our success – the last live event that we did, February of this year, was definitely when we said “A HA! We got the magic sauce, now we know what to do!”. It took until February of this year to get it perfect, the way that we wanted it. Funny enough, all of our branding with the love, and fashion is to love, and inclusivity, and sustainable, everything that seems to really be the key focal points in everybody’s mind today because of COVID, it was almost like we were leading up for this to happen for us to be ready to go. As soon as it hit, the COVID situation, it was a huge “uh oh” moment, being a live event company. But then we were like “wait, if fashion is to love is what we stand for, why not fully embrace this messaging people need love more than ever now in every industry and bring the world together online. From when we had this “AHA” moment to when we had our first event which was a month ago, we put the whole thing together in three weeks, and truth be told it was incredible how the world really wanted to hold hands and come together. For the first time, we saw the fashion industry as an inclusive industry – where a lot of times we think of fashion as very exclusive, but I feel like this brought people together to where people know now that they need to collaborate, they need to be inclusive. So, it tied everything we’ve been trying to show and tell people for the last two years. Pivoting online just made it “okay, this what we were always meant to do.”
We don’t want to go back to normal, we have a new normal coming. Not necessarily towards a way of life but in the fashion industry, how can consumers from home join and be part of the changes happening in the fashion industry? How can we help and become a part of it?
J: There’s a few things. I think that everybody now realizes that we were not doing what we were supposed to do to the environment and our earth. For the first time ever, everybody’s in the same situation where we were pretty much grounded because of how badly our environment was impacted because of the mistakes we were making with our purchases and action. For the first time, the general consumer, if they haven’t already taken a deeper dive into ‘what is sustainability? Why is sustainability important?”. I’m in fashion, so obviously when you’re in the industry it’s easy to say “okay, let me figure this out.”. But if you’re a general consumer, and not saying everybody is like this, but let’s say you’re an everyday person, fashions not really your thing, you want to buy a t-shirt; the last thing you’re going to think about is “sustainability’ let me look that up” because it’s a full word, it’s very loaded, and very scary when you try to figure it out – it seems impossible to understand for some people and I can imagine that. With that being said, I think that just educate ourselves. Sustainability doesn’t have to be as scary a term as it sounds, there’s different ways of sustainability. There’s fully sustainable brands and fully sustainable ways of living, but you also have ways in which even if you buy a forever 21 shirt, but you keep that shirt in your closet for years and years and wear it over and over again rather than just buying it to wear it once – that in itself can be sustainable because you’re not getting rid, and it’s not becoming waste. Another thing too is, right now going into that ‘new normal” nobody knows exactly what that’s going to be, but everybody knows that innovations need to be made. So, I would say everybody think of ideas, think of what is it that you think would work, and try it out! Try to implement it because your idea could be the next normal, it could be that big great idea! I would also say technology, I think we’re running a sprint towards it, where before fashion brands were like “mmm, I’m a luxury brand. I don’t do too much with technology.” But now people have to in order to survive. So maybe get more into it, figure things out. Educating yourself, there’s never too much that you can know, knowledge is king. Taking better care of the world and ourselves, those are the kind of things that come to mind. I think everybody’s going to have their own perception of what they can do, it’s all baby steps. No one expects anyone to change everything they do or their habits over night or ever, because people don’t change, but they can adapt. I think that if people just take baby steps to what won’t cause anxiety, but the baby step should be applauded anyways, It’s all about knowledge, sustainability for me is super important, and like I said it doesn’t have to be a sustainable brand it could be the way that you treat the stuff that you buy, buying less – no one needs 20 thousand dresses in their closet. A lot of times we have all these things and wear it once then forget that it’s there unless we do a clean-up and are like “ooh, I have this dress!” and we all go through that, so I think it’s just doing things like that. Those little changes can make a big difference. I’m going to mention a company because I just spoke with them recently, just found out about this company it’s super cool! It’s called “Tulerie”, and they created kind of like a rent-a-runway, but instead of renting from them you borrow form each other’s closet. Let’s say me and you are on the “Tulerie” platform and you take a photograph of everything’s that’s in your closet and we’re the same size and I go into your closet and like one of your pieces, I actually rent a piece from your closet, you get paid for it, and we’re all part of this eco system where we don’t need to buy things anymore, we can just borrow from each other like we used to do in high school. I thought it was such a cool idea! We’re all sitting at home right now, so everybody can go into their closets and do this and make money, and share, and be sustainable! I thought it was genius, that’s just one example.
What do we think some of the way’s tech fashion is going to help the environment, communities, and individuals?
J: I think when it comes to fashion tech and technologies in general, we’re already seeing it. For example, next week the first day of the event we’re doing a 3D augment reality virtual fashion show, it’s going to be the first time that someone is doing it in the way that we’re doing it. It’s going to be a collaborative show and its all augmented reality – the designers didn’t even touch a piece of fabric it was all photos that are going to become the real thing and look very real and it’s amazing what they’re doing, I’m so excited for it. That’s just one example. Carbon footprint is a lot less, is not non-existent by doing this. Also, you don’t have to make samples or collection for the runway that will never be worn again because its all-digital. The same thing goes with 3D showrooms that are being implemented. There’s a company called 3D Look that just came out, they are doing full on show rooms that are all virtual augmented reality products, digital printing of fabrics, etc. I think all of those 3D things of augment reality and A.I with fitting yourself before buying something online so we don’t have to return it a thousand times, I think that’s going to be really huge for the industry. I by no means think that’s going to take over the real fashion shows, the real pieces of fabric and all of that because runway shows live are such a beautiful part of the fashion industry and it can never go away, and I don’t think it will. I think it will just be a complimentary thing; where we don’t only have to have everything live, we can also have it virtually so we’re not impacting the environment as much. That’s what I see as the big changes. I also see a lot more events going online, even when things go to the next “new normal’ I think people are realizing that you can still keep that intimacy online, but can bring so many more people together and with that, greater impact comes. That’s what I think of when I think of technology.
What is one of the coolest interceptions of tech and fashion that you’ve seen since Fashinnovation?
J: Obviously 3-D runway show, haven’t seen it yet but I’ve seen the demo’s they’re amazing. There’s a company called “E-Styler” which was technology that did virtual fitting for brands, but then they also created an e-commerce platform called “Chapter Fit”. They got emerging brands that they would put on this platform, but as soon as you go into the website you take a picture of yourself, it takes your measurements and body size, and then instead of you browsing through the brands it sends you the brands on the platform best fit for your body type. So, that one comes to mind for sure.
Since launching Fashinnovation, you’ve seen so many different obstacles in fashion such as environment, tech, unity, diversity, etc. After seeing and hearing so many people speak form around the world, what do we think the next step we can take to tackle the ethical issue the industry faces, and how can consumers help with that?
J: This goes both to fashion and the world. We’ve seen in the last few weeks and months, because it’s been filmed for the first time. I’m going out of fashion for a little bit then I’m going to go back into it because it correlates. For the purpose of what we’ve been seeing with how people are really mistreating certain individuals, it’s so sad. After watching the video of the man murdered in Minneapolis, I saw that video and for hours I thought I was going to vomit, I can’t even think about it, drives me nuts. That’s an example that goes to the fashion industry, into any industry. We need diversity, inclusivity, people accepting others just the way that they are, respecting one another, but also respecting everybody has a different viewpoint. When we bring cultures from different parts of the world together and we get everybody’s viewpoints in one space and you can share and collaborate, I think magic happens and can happen. I think people that are not thinking this way and are trying to everything by themselves or with their collogues and not broadening their horizons, this goes to people with what I started this with – I think the world is never going to advance, and I think it’s so sad and closed minded. The world is beautiful for that reason; It’s for the different types of individuals and what each person brings, and every single person, it’s like our mission states, “virtual unity, real action, one heart” but that’s exactly what it is! We all have the same beating heart, we all have the same blood, doesn’t matter who it is. The ideas that come from each person is what they come to the earth with, it’s what their gifts are! And again, goes to any industry, and fashion speaks to that as well. It’s super important, and I think people really have to be open to everybody’s ideas and cultures and backgrounds and implementing all of that into whatever it is you’re doing and, it’s magic.
I’m going to share a quote that I heard recently when I had a call that touched me so much, I’m saying it to everybody! It was said to me by Yash Ranga, Conscious Luxury Evangelist, Stakeholder Engagement Partner, Jaipur Rugs Foundation.
“The key to success, you have 3 things. You have your mind, your heart, your hands. Shut off your mind, take out your heart, and put it in your hands.”
So, that’s my answer to that.
Is there anything you can share about upcoming projects or sneak peaks?
J: The BIGTHINX technology company backed by the Prada group is putting together the 3D runway show from Bangalore India. They are usually based in Italy but because of COVID they’re in India for now. We’re having 10 different brands form all over the world, each brand is going to have one look on the runway showing the whole concept of collaboration in this runway show. We just recently signed, which is kind of ironic but interesting, Steve Aoki and Alberto Candiani just did a collaboration with a sustainable jean brand. I would never have thought of Steve Aoki doing this type of collaboration, but I think it’s amazing. You see how fashion is not just fashion anymore, but encompasses so many industries, coming together, magic can happen! Then I have one other announcement that I can’t tell you because the first day of the event we’re going to talk about it, but I can tell you that Fashinnovation has formed a really strong and exciting partnership with a view individuals and a company based out of Kenya, and that’s all I can say about it. At 8:10 in the morning on the first day, June 5th, we’re going to make the official announcement and bring in Kenya live to announce this with us.
I have my first book being published this summer, which is “To humanize homelessness; using the voices of the fashion industry”. That’s coming after the Fashinnovation event, separate side of my life but very much correlated to the whole innovation with giving back in fashion.
How long have you been working on this book?
J: It’s been 5 years in the making from when the concept of the idea came out, and then the book has been about 3 years with giving out meals to the homeless, gathering stories to but in the book, influencers, etc. It took about a year to find a publisher who wanted to publish it, then Susan Rockefeller came onboard as a partner and helped me fund the entire project, which I’m forever grateful for. And about a month ago partnered with Maria Como for her organization “Help USA” so that when the book comes out, we’ll be able to donate proceeds to the organization. Once I put all of that together, we’re going to be doing a worldwide launch as well!
What was the moment you realized this is something you NEED to write a book about?
J: Honestly, I was in the shower one day which is ironic, although when I say it’s ironic but when I say that a lot of people are like “ I think of all my ideas in the shower too” so I think there’s something about the water and the shower. I was pregnant with my first baby girl, now I have two of them, and I was thinking “This person is going to come into this world. This woman, this girl that I’m going to raise, and I want her to know to give back.”. I was brought up in Brazil and, you see the very rich and the very poor side by side in close proximity in so many ways, it always bothered me. And I lived in New York when I was pregnant with her, and I saw so much homelessness as well. I was always that friend to befriend homeless individuals, even before the project was a thing. I would make friends with them, make full on conversations, sit down in the streets with them, people thought I was nuts! They were like “That’s so dangerous” and I was like “It’s not at all. They’re regular people like me and you”. It was always in me, and when I was pregnant with her and giving back to different causes I was like “why not do something of my own”? And it was that time where becoming an influencer was becoming a really big thing, and I was thinking to myself “why do we care so much about Kim Kardashian, where she gets her salads, and why isn’t she talking about things that people can follow and copy but things that will give back?” So, I put the whole thing together in my head in the shower, that was the start to it all!
What is your mantra?
J: Be you, always. I am somebody who is very transparent and very emotive. I go with the motion and go with transparency and I always thought that would be something look at me as weak for, but I found that to be my greatest strength. Now I am like “This is me; I could cry when you’re speaking with me. I’ll tell you exactly what’s going on and if you don’t like it it’s just not the right fit.” So just, be you. There’s a reason you’re you. I would say that’s the biggest mantra, just “be you. Be transparent.” You’re always going to have people who may not understand who you are, but the ones that do, you’ll go a very long way by being extremely genuine, it’s the most important thing you do. So yeah, that’s my mantra.