Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Eiko Ai

Japanese forms reimagined with a Spanish flair.

Named from the Japanese phonetic translation of Gloria and Amor, these Spanish designers combine a casual style with sophistication and feminism to create a unique fashion line.

"Unique pieces for unique occasions". This statement is the explicit goal of the Barcelona based womenswear brand, Eiko Ai. The brand wants to empower women using limited-edition garments which combine a casual style with sophistication and feminism.

In regards to the collection, Eiko Ai combines limited and unique seasonal pieces. And the fantastic part is that all the garments are designed and sewn in Barcelona.

They produce sustainable products with human-friendly management, eco-friendly processes, and they respect all living creatures, which is why they control their production, including the fabrics.

Eiko Ai's inspiration comes from the colors of the light, the analog warmth, and fantastic stories. Their universe is inclusive, cosmopolite, authentic, sophisticated, sensual, passionate, and magic.

This unique universe is the reason I took a rainy morning in Barcelona to spend some time with the creative director, Gloria Llado. We discussed many topics including the story behind the brand and the future of the fashion industry. And by the end of the interview I was being fitted for one of Eiko Ai's signature feathered kimonos.


Shop their collection online of bags, coats, dresses, kimonos, pants, skirts, tops and more.

Gloria Llado of Eiko Ai in conversation

An in-depth interview conducted at their studio in Barcelona.

Give me a little background about the Brand and yourself: Where you attended fashion school? When did you start the Brand? What is the meaning behind the name?

From an early age, I remember being amazed by fashion; I would see in both fashion magazines and real life. When I was a little kid, I usually cut my new dresses —which was something my mother disliked. I needed to cut and manipulate clothes always with my scissors ready. When I grew up, I had many doubts and decided to study fashion design. I enrolled at Istituto Europeo di Design, in Barcelona, and then I did a course at Central Saint Martins, in London.

When I finished university, I primarily worked for local brands and then fashion suppliers working for multinational companies.

I started eikō ai following a creative need but also because I was always struggling to browse in the fashion stores. I wanted something unique and different for myself, and very rarely, I would find it.

We started with a reinterpretation of the kimonos, and this turned out to be our first Brand iconic garment. I still love the versatility of this piece, what it means, and how the Japanese society still uses it for special occasions. While the Brand was growing, I decided to add new products into the collection and broaden our "universo."

We took our name from the Japanese phonetic translation of Gloria —which is my name (Glory in English)— "eikō." At a later stage, when we were gaining traction, we included the particle "ai" so to reflect the other two partners in our Brand —Burak Ay and Albert Amor. Amor (Love in Spanish) translates as "ai" in Japanese. Burak is the head of sales and production and Albert branding and digital usability.

What is and where do you find your inspirations for your capsule collections?

My inspiration comes from many different places, being trips, music, nature, or topics I'm currently interested in, like the cosmos or the quantum world. I'm also a big fan of vintage aesthetics and the analog world.

How do these inspirations affect your creative process?

My mood affects my inspirations and my inspirations my creative process. It's a non-linear flow, though, as it can happen the other way around. Each garment has a meaning and a reason to exist.

How does your Brand feel innovative or different from other brands?

The Brand is unique and different because each person is unique and different. I like to put a lot of my personality in the Brand. I strive to create stories and transfer them into the garments. We are also collaborating with artists that connect with the Brand, illustrators, musicians, writers, and any other artistic disciplines.

Explain the reason/reasons behind your design production taking place in Barcelona.

We produce locally to be in close contact with our suppliers; we are committed to deliver quality and take care of all the details. In doing so, we can supervise the production and also help families in the proximity.

Why don't you follow the typical fashion schedule?

The fashion system schedule is crazy, complete nonsense for our planet and the consumers. Why do we need to produce so many things and generate all this waste? Besides, I do not want to limit the life of the garments. The process is time-consuming, and it is a shame to kill the pieces so quickly, it decrements the value of what we do. We instead strive for the opposite.

When a woman is wearing one of your designs, how do you want them to feel?

At their best, confident, satisfied, beautiful I would like them to know the story behind the garment and make them feel part of it.

What's the best advice you have ever received from a colleague/mentor in the fashion industry/or in life?

Be glad over the success of other people and be grateful; if you want to win, help people. You have to make products that solve problems, and I try to do it with love. Do not pretend to know everything, trust your team, and be willing to do both, lead and follow.

If you could change one aspect of the fashion industry, what would it be and why?

I would change the insanity of the fashion cycles and eliminate the stress. Also, add spiritual awareness and spread the purpose of what we do —to balance the sense of superficiality linked with our industry. To promote cooperation and inclusiveness is also essential.

Describe your Brand in 3 words.

Glory, Love, and Moon. These words are literally us —the three partners, Gloria, Burak, and Albert—and so is the essence of all we do.

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