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Coming of Age Knitwear with Sofia of Nana Studioz
NCO 004
2023-03-22
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by

N: Hi Sofia! Could you share some insights into your background, including where you grew up and how you first became involved in the world of fashion?

S: My interest in fashion started from a young age. I was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina; however, I spent most of my early childhood living in Cancun, Mexico. At the time, my favorite subjects to draw were women in dresses and heels.

After being exposed to video games, I would spend the entire day playing with character customization, rather than the actual game.

I guess my mother noticed, because she bought me my first Vogue magazine when I was 8.

I remember being very drawn to high fashion runway styling, hair, and makeup. It looked like nothing I had seen in my daily life. It reminded me of video game characters, which I found very exciting. That led me to sketching my own runway looks, though I stopped after a couple of years.

Although I can't pinpoint when my interest in fashion design stopped, I fell in love with it all over again while watching Raja Gemini in RuPaul's Drag Race season 3 at 18 years old. Her innovative looks and creations instilled a sense of pure exhilaration in me, and I became inspired to start researching fashion again. At the time, the "high fashion scene" in my city was very limited, so I found it difficult to discuss and connect with others through fashion.

That changed when I discovered high fashion twitter, an online community dedicated to sharing and debating fashion.

It was a space where my love for fashion was echoed by those around the world, so I joined without hesitation. It was the twitter community that gave me the confidence to create Nana Studioz.

N: Your initial collection, "Playdate," encapsulated the whimsy of a child playing with yarn within a dream-like aesthetic. In contrast, your recent collection, "Feels Like," represents a psychological awakening to reality and the shattering of childhood innocence. This change is evident in the transition to more practical silhouettes and designs grounded in the materiality of our existence. Could you elaborate on this evolution and how it may reflect your personal journey as a designer, from taking tentative baby steps to confronting the harsh realities of the fashion industry?

S: The transition from innocence to consciousness definitely parallels my journey as a designer at the moment. I've reached a point, as my audience and loyal consumer base grow, in which if I want to succeed in the industry, I no longer have the freedom to be constantly changing and experimenting as I would in an initial creative phase. This really challenges my ever-changing and evolving nature as a person and creator. I now face the need to settle down and define who I am as a designer. I need to figure out what values, beliefs, and philosophies I want my brand to adhere to, and how to translate that into a general aesthetic. It's like having to find yourself all over again.

N: You've expressed a desire to create clothing that is not only aesthetically pleasing for social media but also practical and long-lasting. What are your thoughts on the current state of fashion with respect to social media? Have we reached the end of the "Instagram-fashion" era?

S: The way we're now exposed to social media content non-stop has created a massive competition in the market. This has resulted in designers, especially young and up-and-coming ones, being put under severe pressure to stand out against the infinite amount of competitors, creating garments purely relying on shock value since there's only a few seconds to hold the attention of the consumer. As a consequence, there's a huge amount of eye-catching trendy clothes that you can't sit or walk comfortably in – clothes that are only meant to be worn by celebrities or idols, or rather made for posting pictures on Instagram and quickly discarded after. This way of consumption will have a large detrimental impact on the environment.

Unfortunately, the demand for these types of garments is intensified by the pressure that social media puts on regular people to consume clothing like they're influencers.

What separates design from art is functionality, and unwearable, uncomfortable clothing is poorly executed design. I do believe in the need for an artistic approach to garment making for the innovation of fashion, but it's not the case for the vast majority of clothing produced in the "instagram-fashion" world. I have been drawing attention to this issue for quite some time now. Although I don't believe we've reached the end at all, I'm seeing people become more conscious of their consumption habits and that's a step in the right direction.

N: Your designs offer a refreshing alternative to the traditional Western focus on sexiness and maturity. I think a place like Japan would really embrace your creations. Can you tell us about finding your target audience? Who are your loyal supporters?

S: I design for myself and based on my life experiences. Part of my identity as a non-binary and gender non-conforming person comes from the yearning for childlike freedom and innocence, which was taken away from me the moment I became societally exposed to sex and gender. Objectification is something that most, if not all, the people who experience being perceived as a girl or woman can relate to. In my experience, being objectified is a claustrophobic sensation – like being caged and tied up for others to consume, like a weak prey. So I always had a hard time connecting with many standards of femininity, one of those things being wearing "sexy" or revealing clothing.

My personal style varies between and outside the binary genders, but when it comes to presenting in a feminine way, I can only feel comfortable as long as it's modest. This directly influences not only my design style but the visual identity and atmosphere that I constructed for the Nana Studioz universe.

I have found that most of my supporters are people who first felt a connection and pull to the Nana Studioz image, then realized they connect to me personally due to shared experiences or philosophies. This is why forming a bond with my clients comes naturally, and creating these human connections is not only a huge part of my mission as a designer and artist, but something I deeply cherish.

N: We'd love to learn more about your inspirations and favorite designers. Can you share some of your key references and fashion icons that have shaped your creative journey?

S: My favorite designer is Miuccia Prada. My deep respect for Miuccia comes from her not being afraid to showcase the "ugly," which for so long frightened me to death.

She once said, "ugly is attractive, ugly is exciting" - and it's become my mantra.

But what keeps me inspired, excited, and hopeful for the future is drag. Drag queens are at the forefront of fashion innovation, light years ahead - queens like Raja, Violet Chachki, Aquaria, and many more have had a huge impact on me. Fashion will never die as long as drag exists.

N: Your work embodies a "coming of age" essence, and you've mentioned your desire to grow alongside your brand while exploring other artistic avenues, such as exhibitions. What might Nana Studioz look like five years from now as it continues to evolve and expand?

S: I'd be happy enough to have Nana Studioz still exist at all five years from now - To keep having people that support and believe in my vision would be insanely fulfilling. I've always said I'm more of an artist than a fashion designer, fashion just being my current outlet of interest for self-expression, and I'm very aware of how demanding the fashion industry can be on designers. To stay true to my beliefs, I'd like to create only as long as I have feelings to express or wounds to heal. To be honest, I don't like to think about the future too much, because I would like to surprise myself.

All images courtesy of nana studioz.
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