“I have always fought to be here”
22 July, 2014
Andrea Morros celebrates 20 years in the fashion sector, where she is positioned halfway between the artisan work of Barcelona’s Gràcia neighbourhood and the high-end market of Passeig de Gràcia.
Two spirits live together in Andrea Morros, that of the designer and the dressmaker, and they come together in the essential role of businessperson which she must play at the head of her own fashion firm. In recent years this role has required imagination, adaptation and the ability to change in order to continue to do what she likes best, which is to design.
“2013 was the worst year since we opened two decades ago,” Andrea Morros says from her revamped atelier in Barcelona’s Gràcia neighbourhood, where her evening and bridal wear designs are displayed. After nearly seven years of financial crisis, it was not until last year that the firm felt the full shock of the earthquake that has hit nearly all activity sectors.
Declining sales drove her to take action, redesigning her sales point and atelier to open them up further to the public, launching a new website and, above all, continuing to prioritise the personal approach and made-to-measure designs for which she is distinguished. “Now we have more light; we painted the space white and enlarged the fitting area. However, the main work involved knocking down the wall that separated the shop window from the workroom. This small detail changed the whole business! New customers tell us they often used to walk by but didn’t dare enter because they couldn’t see inside from the street”.
Andrea Morros is proud of being in Gràcia. This is where she has had her creative and sales space ever since she decided to set up the label after returning from working in France. “I have always fought to be here, at the frontline between the artisan work typical of Gràcia and the high-end market of Passeig de Gràcia. The renovation of the space also coincided with the works to fix up Riera de Sant Miquel, the street where we are located, and meant that for the first time tourists began to cross La Diagonal and continue up into the neighbourhood, thanks to the work that was done. This zone used to be run-down and dead but there has been a sea change with regards tourist visits to the area”.
Affordable exclusive couture
Romantic textures and feminine and sensual shapes inspired by the great designers of the 20th century are hallmarks of the collections Andrea Morros designs each season. Her work often contains many elements of the experience she gained during eight years in France, working alongside Michael Klein, also for the firm Chloé, where she was responsible for knitwear collections under the orders of Karl Lagerfeld, and with designer Guy Laroche for his evening-wear collections. Her French adventure began after graduating from the Escola d’Arts i Tècniques de la Moda fashion school and spending four months at the studio of designer Dorothée Bis. There is no question that Andrea Morros’ designs are inspired to a large extent by the work and experience she acquired at the start of her professional career.
“We offer ‘prêt-à-couture’, by which I mean dressmaking adapted to each customer to make haute couture affordable,” Morros explains, in reference to the work system her designs are known for. At Andrea Morros the public can find an extensive collection of evening and bridal wear which can be adapted and modified to suit their tastes and with advice from the designer. “We customise ready-to-wear to make it into something unique. We can add sleeves if needed, or rework the neckline or back. We have dresses available in the colour each customer chooses. I have been working with the same dyer for the past 20 years,” she says, underlining the importance of artisan details and processes in her gowns. Besides the ready-to-wear collection, the firm is known for its customised dresses, both in the bridal and evening segments, where prices range from €1,000 to €3,000.
Changes made last year included expanding the price range so that customers can also find dresses and accessories from collections priced between €150 and €1,200. This was also made possible because the firm has once again offered, as it did in the early days, multi-brand designs in addition to its own creations. “They’re mainly by French firms or designers who don’t have distributors here,” Morros says.
All of these changes are targeted at “a customer who has also evolved,” the Catalan design says. “In the case of brides, for example, you don’t get twenty-year-old girls these days, but women who are paying for their dress themselves and want a design that is an extension of their lifestyle”. The changes Morros is talking about also include a new approach to time management which has had a direct impact on the production processes of small-scale ateliers like hers. “People come in with less time to go before the big day. We have brides that only have two weeks before they’re due to get married, or customers who live outside the city but are getting married here. You have to attend them taking their circumstances into account. It is essential to match your offer with these new purchasing terms and, above all, to deliver on their needs. Half my work involves sorting out people’s problems. Of course if you have a relationship and a bond with someone, you have to be there when they need you.”
Andrea Morros knows the importance of fostering a bond with customers because a large part of her clientele has been trusting in her for years. This might be the outcome of her take on fashion as being something timeless, while always keeping in step with trends. “Some people are still wearing dresses of mine that I designed 20 years ago because they remain current and are not tied to any particular period. I think this is the key to success. But success is hard to come by because the society we live in is increasingly a throwaway one. Possibly one of the good things to emerge from this crisis will be to moderate this form of consumption. Before, brides were buying up to three pairs of shoes for their wedding day – it was madness!”
Next February, Andrea Morros will celebrate her 20th anniversary with a show open to the public, to be held at Riera de Sant Miquel. She plans it as a way to thank the neighbourhood for being the venue for the possibilities it gives her to bring fashion to a huge variety of people who appreciate good design and, once again, to show the influence of a label which has forged its own path in a highly competitive sector right from the start. “My business strategy doesn’t involve taking part in group shows. I like to organise them myself and control the mise-en-scene. Putting on a show is a luxury and I am very aware of the effort that goes into it,” she concludes, already thinking about the event she will organise to celebrate the two decades she has been working in the world of fashion.