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SixChel’s Dina Chavez on Emma Watson, Fashion Revolution and Style Eternal
June 3, 2017 in Slow Luxury Fashion
What does SixChel mean, and who is the SixChel woman? What is she like, and what are her dreams and aspirations for her life as a woman, and as a consumer of slow luxury fashion?
SixChel is a combination of my astrological number 6 and and the Mayan goddess, Ixchel who was in love with the sun god and wove a beautiful clothe to get his attention. She did capture his attention and it is said, they had a volatile relationship. The SixChel woman is a combination of perfection, which is symbolized by the number 6, and a determined woman such as Ixchel. She is a woman of the modern world, educated, aware of the importance of progress, strong and proud, as well as comfortable with who she has become.
2. Tell us about you Dina? When did you know you wanted to study fashion design and set up your own fashion apparel business?
I was always interested in fashion and was the typical young girl buying Vogue and InStyle magazines and making clothes in her spare time. When I was a student at The University of Texas, I was not sure what I wanted to do, but I found myself making my own clothes and grew to really enjoy it. It was through living in Austin that I knew I could become a fashion designer and prosper. Austin, TX is a very unique city in that we pride ourselves in supporting local artists and entrepreneurs. The city has had a bit of a change, but the heartbeat of it is it’s independent movers and shakers.
3. Who are your fashion role models and muses?
As for designers, I grew up idolizing Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Christian Dior, Christian Lacroix, Vivienne Westwood and Alexander McQueen…to name a few. Kate Moss and fellow Capricorn, has always been the model that I love to follow. Her style is impeccable and I truly admire her for it.
4. The Royal Designer, Catherine Walker once told me that she viewed the clothes she made for iconic woman, as ‘a feminine suit of armour, to go out into the world and do their jobs with confidence’ – how do you see the role of clothing in women’s lives?
Oh, wow! That is inspirational to hear from Catherine Walker. I feel the same. Women have to feel comfortable and confident in what they are wearing. A woman is most beautiful and powerful when she is herself and you must love the skin and clothes you are in, in order to do so.
5. You talk about designing clothes that empower women. Tell us about the capsule collection, and how that translates into your key pieces?
In the Capsule Collection, I chose fabric and design elements to represent the strength and femininity that we as women possess. Tencel twill and bamboo/100 % organic cotton blend jersey symbolize femininity with their soft hand and flowing nature. To counter that and represent strength, I chose to use a hemp/100% organic cotton blend denim and cruelty-free leather. In the design elements, you will see flowing shapes with straight and strong edges. For example, in The Elizabeth, the dress is soft with a gentle flow yet the shoulders are strong and a bit bold.
6. Tell us about your journey from conventional fashion to sustainable fashion? Was there a eureka moment?
It was a gradual realization to move away from using conventional fabric. The decision was easy for me to decide, but I was not sure how it would sit with the average consumer. Eventually, I believed that what this particular consumer needed was sustainable fashion that did not follow the “stigma” of it. This was when I decided that it was the time to transition because it is possible to produce beautiful, modern and chic clothes without the stigma that has been created about Eco-fashion. I believe most consumers think everything that is Eco-friendly is made of hemp, unpleasant to look at or is extremely expensive and that is just not the case. I want SixChel to be one of the sustainable fashion brands that helps the consumer get away from this idea and accepts sustainable fashion is now the norm, and focus on the quality and authenticity.
7. You are using some state of the art, luxury ethical fabrics. Tell us about them, and why you chose them? Do we have to make any sacrifices, in order to go ethical with fabric?
The most common comment I hear is that sustainable fabric is expensive. That is not true. Yes, some fabric will be at a higher price, but the same is true for conventional fabric. If you seek quality, you will have to pay a higher price for it. In this collection I use Tencel twill, which is considered the most sustainable fabric at the moment, bamboo/100% organic cotton blend jersey and a hemp/100 % organic cotton blend denim. The prices for these fabrics are of equal price to the conventional fabrics I would have used.
8. It’s exciting to see a designer fashion brand conceived in America and made in NYC – how difficult was it to make this happen? Do all the garment making skills still exist in NYC?
I used a product development company, Trunkist, which is in Austin, TX, and they connected me to the manufacturer in Brooklyn, NY. It has always been important to me to be Made in USA and I did think that it would be impossible and incredibly pricey. There are a number of cut & sew shops/small factories/manufacturers across the United States (quite a few across the East coast, Atlanta, Dallas, Austin, Minnesota, Oregon just to name a few) and it is encouraging to see and hear about more opening their doors. Right now, in LA, not all factories have been following protocol (the problem has been recognized and they are working on it) and in NY the industry is growing as well as leading the way for ethical practices.
9. Which icon past or present would you love to dress?
There are so many, but if I had to choose one at the moment, I would choose Emma Watson. Not only is she a woman with a strong message of woman empowerment, strength, education and independence, but she is dedicated to sustainable fashion and voices her love for it.
10. How does it feel to be joining the fashion revolution movement? What are your dreams and ambitions for Sixchel?
It feels uplifting to be part of the fashion revolution movement and to be meeting people that have the same passion and purpose as I do. I pride myself for sharing a birthday with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr, and American icon and have always had the desire to be and do more than just a job. Being part of the fashion revolution just fell in my lap and I couldn’t be happier being a part of it. My dream for SixChel is to be seen as a designer label that happens to be sustainable and follow ethical principles. I want my customers to feel proud that the clothes they wear have more meaning than the latest trend or that they only attain validity, when being worn by a certain celebrity.
11. Do you think the future of fashion is green and sexy?
I do think the future of fashion is green and it definitely can be sexy. We are getting to the point where consumers are waking up and realizing that the local pond they visit is polluted or disappearing and their drinking water is tasting of chemicals. We, as I am a consumer, too, know we are on the verge of an environmental crisis and we do have to take some responsibility for that. We also, do have the power to do something about it by being conscious of our buying habits.
12. What would you like to say to the woman who loves high, fast fashion, and has never bought sustainable fashion before?
Take a break from shopping just to shop. Clothes are incredibly cheap right now because of fast-fashion and I definitely understand the urge to go out and just buy, buy, buy, but we must slow down on this habit. Not only is fast-fashion harmful and bad for us, the clothes do not last and you end up spending more money in the end. Sustainable fashion is of a higher quality and will last you longer than the $8 t-shirt you just bought. Trust me, that cheap shirt will wear out within weeks.
13. What indispensable piece can’t you live without in your own wardrobe?
I still have clothes from college, just because I really love my clothes, and feel I can always use them at some point in my life. From all of the clothes I have, I cannot do without my blazers. I will always keep a range of styles of blazers in my closet.
14. What’s your best timeless, style tip?
Clean, straight lines, with little detail. Think of a Hermes bag and translate that into your wardrobe. Also, embrace being a woman, exploring boundless limits.
15. How big is ethical fashion in America? Are there any female role models who are really embracing the idea?
It depends by region of the country. Right now there is mostly a movement of wearing consignment or vintage clothes. In Austin, it is an idea that is spreading and growing. We are seeing more ethical and sustainable boutiques as well as fashion and accessory brands. I don’t really see “known” role models embracing ethical fashion. It seems ethical fashion gets attention around Earth Day or of recent years, around Fashion Revolution Day. Which is great, but we definitely, need to work on making sustainable fashion more accessible.
16. Tell us about the personal events that made you re-evaluate your business, and led you to start on a whole new adventure with ethical fashion?
My older sister was diagnosed with cancer at 35 years old and passed away at 37. Her diagnosis was a shock and unexpected. I learned of the elements that may cause cancer and our environment is a huge factor. I knew that I could not be responsible for adding to the problem and I had to do something to alleviate it. I’m not sure what the cancer rate in Britain is, but in the US and in particular my hometown in South Texas, we have seen a rise in numbers in all ages and people with various health levels. Through this tragedy, I want people to wake up and realize there is a worrying phenomenon that is occurring and we must act upon it.
17. What has been the hardest part of setting up a sustainable fashion business?
Getting the average consumer to understand that sustainable fashion isn’t out of the ordinary and is the future.
18. What were you fashion, film and music references growing up, and how much of that has gone into designing Sixchel?
I grew up in the 80’s and pop culture was a huge factor for me growing up. I do not use that era literally in my designs, but the whole idea of that era is strong in my inspiration. It was the emergence of the “power woman” and fashion became the epitome of extreme flair and fun. My goal is for women to feel powerful wearing SixChel and to have fun styling their SixChel piece the way they choose.
19. What is your favourite period in fashion and why?
I love the glamour days of the 30’s and 40’s. Fashion was at an ultimate, luxurious high and dressing up was an art form. My maternal Grandmother saved a lot of her clothes and jewellery from this era and growing up as a young child, I loved just looking at them. They made feel glamorous and imagine what it would be like to be a woman.
20. And finally, how does being a Texan inspired your life in fashion? Describe Texas, its sights, sounds and colours in a sentence.
Texas is hot! I tend to design my collections for the warmer months. I also enjoy designing clothes that are not typically Texan…cowboy themed. Not everyone in Texas is keen on the whole “kicker” style, which I personally despise. Therefore, I truly want my brand to reflect what Texas is not, as well.
Texas is a large state with a diverse landscape, a multitude of cultures, with beautiful starry nights and great beaches – the perfect canvas for more alluring fashion revolution!
Alison Jane Reid - Journalist, Editor & Emerald Princess of Slow, Sustainable Luxury Living - 18 year track record interviewing real icons for: The Times, The Lady, You, The Mirror and Country Life. Now leading her alluring fairtrade, emerald revolution - Don’t Miss Out - Have you joined The Ethical Hedonist set?