Meet R Designer, Juliana Garcia Bello, the Argentinian swaying fashion influence from Patagonia to Hong Kong. With her complex (mind-boggling we’d say!) capsule that is created using top quality shirting garment excess as the waste materials, she doesn’t just dream about making the near-impossible possible, she actually does it. Step inside our latest capsule.
Q: You’re famous for designing into garment and clothing waste, whether the waste is secondhand or brand new excess garment stock from factories. Many have said that your brain works ‘inside out’. How did you develop your unique design talents?
My upbringing in economically-limited circumstances taught me to maximise resources and cherish creativity. Under my grandmother's guidance, I learned to transform garments and materials into meaningful designs, cultivating a zero-waste mindset. Raised on the serene island of the Argentine Patagonia, I spent ample time indoors, which led me to explore sewing and pattern-making from an early age. In my environment, remaking clothing was an art form, passed down by my mother and grandmother, who handcrafted garments and instilled in me the value of reuse.
My connection with tradition and craftsmanship deepened while stitching alongside my grandmother, underscoring the significance of meticulous attention to detail and dedication to the art of tailoring. Each stitch served as a reminder of the heritage we shared, emphasising the beauty that can emerge from the simplest elements
Q: From working with your Grandmother to today working with The R Collective and one of the world’s largest manufacturers, what was the experience like?
In many ways there are lots of similarities; finding waste materials, coming up with ideas to transform waste, unstitching and restitching them. The process is to create something unexpected from something unwanted.
And then there were incredible differences. Whereas my grandmother and I would work on one shirt at a time, here the scale is enormous. TAL Apparel makes 50 million shirts every year, and even though only a tiny amount of these are defective, because their quality control is so good, the sheer scale does mean that even this best-in-class manufacturer does end up with excess garment defects.
So when working with TAL Apparel and The R Collective, my designs must work for bulk and also for realistic production time frames. This wasn’t me and my grandmother sewing one shirt at a time. Just the one specific TAL factory, which we produced my capsule with, has 3,000 garment workers in one shift! Despite the differences in scale and because of the extraordinary talented technical designers and pattern workers at TAL Apparel, I was able to keep to my design ethos, where nothing goes to waste. So my entire The R Collective capsule is zero waste design, which is technically extremely complex and can only happen with incredible technicians, and determination. And perhaps my ‘inside our brain’ helps too!
(From left to right) Christina Dean, CEO The R Collective, Rod Henderson, President TAL Apparel and Redress Designer and Alumnus, Juliana Garcia Bello
Q: What do you hope people will feel when they wear your designs?
I hope that when people wear my designs, they experience an exhilarating fusion of authenticity and elegance. I wish for each garment to serve as a gateway into upcycling, an invitation to discover the charm of breathing new life into the existing and to embrace a production approach that honours our planet.
In my personal brand, Garciabello, I create not only garments but also timeless narratives. Every design weaves a story of sustainability and creativity, crafted to endure over time and accompany you in your most special moments. My emphasis on timeless pieces not only highlights the beauty in simplicity but also nurtures a more meaningful relationship with clothing, ensuring that they stand the test of time. My goal is for you to feel the excitement of wearing more than just fabric; a garment that can tell a story.
How did winning The Redress Design Award sustainable fashion design competition help you?
Winning The Redress Design Award 2020 was a huge opportunity for me. Although many people may think that fashion design is competitive, the reality is that creative people are typically very collaborative. So even though covid was on and we all had to work remotely, us competition finalists were able to share ideas and encourage one-another.
It was a great experience to share knowledge with other young designers interested in upcycling. Since then, I've stayed in touch with some of the participants who later became friends and individuals I admire.
From catwalk competition to The R Collective rails, what has your experience been like?
The R Collective has been an incredible journey, like making a dream. The experience has been transformative, allowing me to witness the tangible impact of my sustainable designs. Collaborating with The R Collective has also expanded my perspective. Working alongside outstanding professionals who share my commitment to upcycling has been enriching. I've learned about the practical aspects of bringing sustainable designs to a broader audience. This journey has affirmed the power of sustainable fashion. It's not just about aesthetics; it's about contributing to a more conscious industry.