The substitute for a necklace
30 July, 2014
Positing a foulard as a company’s core product, endowing it with its own personality and making it a good substitute for jewellery is the secret of fashion firm Montsita Negre.
It is summer but there’s no holiday for designer Montsita Negre. On the contrary, this promises to be one of her busiest times of the year. She is in the middle of moving her workshop to the centre of Barcelona, where it will be located on the top floor of a building in the heart of the city, at the corner of Carrer Muntaner and Via Agusta, and which, starting from September, will be the showroom and creative space where she exhibits her products. This is a major step for the firm which has been distributing its designs through an online store and exclusive sales points across Spain and abroad since 2011.
But it won’t be the only one, Montsita Negre tells www.barcelonaesmoda.com, as her plans also include having her own sales point within the medium-term future. For the moment the label can be found in Bilbao, Madrid and Paris, as well as the Catalan capital. “Right now the e-shop is the most important and global showcase we have – there are very loyal customers who come back each season. But you can’t put a price on the value of the traditional store, with its personal attention where you can try on the pieces and touch the fabric. That’s why we want to bring the product as close to the end client as possible. The strategy to achieve this is very diverse. We work directly with markets of interest, such as the Middle East and Europe, and we also contact customers directly,” the designer explains.
The last few years have been full-on for Montsita Negre. Since starting her own label in 2011 she has been continually innovating both in products and designs. “Scarves were the starting point of the project. Our evolution involves expanding the product range while upholding the firm’s principles. This season we have launched a collection of tops and I am also looking into new lines for my designs, experimenting with patterns and new textiles and colours”.
For now, Montsita Negre scarves have already had their first outing at a fashion show, at 080 Barcelona Fashion. At the most recent 080, in July, Montsita Negre scarves breezed down the catwalk with designs from the leather and knitwear fashion firm Torras, an opportunity Negre calls “highly positive”.
So it wouldn’t be at all surprising to see a complete Montsita Negre clothing collection sometime soon. However, the designer has her priorities well established and says that any expansion project must guarantee “the timelessness of the pieces, the care for quality and limited runs”. To these values it is also important to add the exclusiveness of the designs and patterns.
To date, Montsita Negre’s creativity has taken the form of the foulard collections she has been producing for the past three years and which she releases in runs of just 150 items per design. Initially she decided on this simple fashion accessory as the company’s sole product because she considers it “the substitute for a necklace and the perfect detail when you dress in block colours. I also wanted to make a unisex accessory. I had a hankering for special pieces that were simultaneously sophisticated, elegant and wearable. I believe that differences between men and women no longer exist in the 21st century,” she says.
Negre’s work is practically art, so much so that some of her foulards have been mounted as pieces to admire. “I absolutely love illustrating and the foulard is a whole piece where the illustration isn’t cut,” she says, emphasising that for her this item of clothing acts as a canvas during the creative process.
“Our customers are people who love details and are taken by scarves. They fall in love with the colours and are captivated by the feel and the textures”. To get this result, Montsita Negre has made quality fabric one of the firm’s cornerstones. “The whole of the collection is made in Europe. I like to keep a tight control on how the products are made. Most of my suppliers are based in Italy, but I’m happy to say that I am increasingly commissioning production here in Catalonia. We used to have a very powerful textile industry and it really upset me to see it was no longer possible to make goods here,” the designer says.
Montsita Negre has in-depth knowledge of the fashion market and acknowledges that “after more than 20 years, I’m still passionate about the sector”. Born in Girona, she remembers “always being surrounded by pencils, colours, paint and textiles”. She moved to Paris after studying at the Escola d’Arts i Tècniques de la Moda a Barcelona fashion school, and in France worked in haute couture for Guy Laroche and in prêt-à-porter for Michel Klein. Back in Barcelona, she boosted her resume with firms such as Javier Simorra, Crocs, Reebok, Speedo, Arena, Puma and Le Coq Sportif.
Nowadays she is very clear that the business adventure she engaged in when she opened own firm is the best way to continue to work in what she likes most and to bring a new alternative product to a sector in which, she says, “there is a lot of mass production, which is very disperse and where it seems that anything goes”. In the context of a growing awareness of ‘slow’ consumption far removed from trends, that is why the values behind Montsita Negre may just be a very good alternative.