Texas-based fashion designer, Gabriela Congrains, presented her brand’s most recent collections in Austin this past November called Zafiro. She has been a returning designer to Texas Fashion Week since presenting her first collection in 2019. Prior to this, she studied Fashion Design in Columbia at Arturo Tejada Cano Design & Marketing School of Fashion before moving to Texas and founding her own brand, Congrains Design.
This past Tuesday, I had the pleasure of speaking with her to ask a few questions.
How was Austin Fashion Week?
Congrains: Austin Fashion Week was great! It was amazing and very fast! It was the whole process of creating a collection and then you know, show time is 2 minutes. It’s something that was really fast, but the experience and the models, and the day was amazing. I was very lucky that it did not rain on my day!
Do you have any specific things you do when looking for inspiration?
Congrains: Everything for me is music, movies, especially film. So that’s like my main stars right? Like watching movies that reference this variance and time and behavior. Because life forces us to change, right? Like 100 years ago, you’re reading on a newspaper, but now we’re reading on a phone. So definitely seeing behavior, humans, and times, but making me have questions and wanting to know why.
When you start illustrating designs, do you know which ones are going to turn into clothes and which ones are just going to be illustrations?
Congrains: I definitely start drawing in my head, and then I think like, how can I do this? After, I do the Illustration, but if I don’t love it, I don’t sew it. Because it’s understanding the process of sewing. It’s something that takes a lot of energy when you want to create a pattern and you don’t know how this is going to behave. Sometimes, it doesn’t work. It’s a whole development of ‘how can we make this happen?’. Those are the kind of things you start to realize, and you have to decide how much time are you going to invest and also you know, creating pieces can be very expensive.
What are some of the biggest challenges you face when making a collection for shows?
Congrains: I think there’s two things. First, it’s having it make sense. Trying to keep a real conceptual line, so that you really have a collection right? These group of elements tied together. And then also when you are solo, and you’re doing this by yourself. You don’t have help from someone else. It’s the elaboration of cutting the patterns, and then you know, sewing and how fast you can do. It’s also like small things like this leaf is not good, so I have to undo it. It just takes so much time and it takes a lot from you. Sometimes you want to quit, but you push through. You fix the pattern. You buy new fabric. Tha’s what makes you a badass. Just trying and figuring it out cause those challenges give you so much information on what not to do wrong.
What are some skills you wish you knew when you started your career?
Congrains: I don’t know. I think that everything was just part of the process because somethings you just have to figure out by doing them. I will say I would have loved to sew more. We would always say to our professors like we already know how to sew, but our teachers were like 70 years old, and they had been sewing for 50 years. They were still going to classes, and there’s like no end to the lack of knowledge. Sewing is something that goes in hand with the pattern, and you know, when you have a bad pattern, you won’t have a good product. So four years of classes is not enough sometimes, so I will give that advice.
How did you know Texas was going to be the place you wanted to start building your career?
Congrains: I think because, especially here in San Antonio, fashion is starting to matter. Since last year, the city gave Texas fashion industry, that was founded here, a grant. It’s more of an acknowledgement of a group of people that are doing fashion here, so I thought it was good for me to grow with the community.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
Congrains: To keep doing things. People just want to see more. People sometimes don’t like what you do, but just keep working hard and bring it on.
Article by: Erika Daniela Escobedo