Green, ecological, environment, recycling. All words you hear more and more nowadays, and this ‘green flow’ is taking a foothold in Argentina. However, the words are there, but what about the actions? Yes, Palermo is full of ‘Eco-restaurants’, yes we have the ‘cartoneros’ who do a really good job and there are now bicycle lanes dotted around the city. But is that it?
No, although it is still in its infancy, there is more, for sure! Where? In the Argentine fashion and product design industry, that’s where. A brief dive into this world will lead you quickly to DQB Studio. So we went along to meet with Dominique Besanson, the studio’s art director.
Since her childhood Besanson has been interested in design, leaving Buenos Aires for Milan after high school to study fashion design. Although she maintains it was a very rich and valuable experience, it turned out that fashion design was not to be ‘it’ for her. “I liked it a lot but I didn’t really think like a fashion designer,” she explains. So, a new course of studies and a new city it was to be, and Besanson started studying art and photography, swapping the city of fashion for the city of infinite possibilities: New York.
Her studies and experiences in New York lead to the idea of mixing design with photography, and upon returning to Buenos Aires, Besanson found the last piece of the puzzle: sustainability. Thus in 2002 those three ingredients lead to the recipe with the name: DQB-Studio.
DQB links art and photography, specializing in crafting sustainable handmade goods. The studio consists of five people from all different professional backgrounds but with one goal in common: working in a sustainable way.
Besanson sees starting her studio in Buenos Aires, a city where the concept of sustainability is still in its infancy, as an extra challenge. “It gives me an extra drive to spread the word and emphasize the message of sustainability. I want to make it clear that products which are made from recycled fabrics are not ‘dirty’ or ‘dusty’. Although my products of course have to look nice, the message that comes with the product, remains the most important thing.”
But Besanson admits that whilst Buenos Aires is a city that follows trends and changing fashion, people still tend to stick to their old habits. “In Europe for example, recycling is already a more basic thing, people are already used to it, here in Argentina it is still quite new and uncommon.”
Having completed several aesthetics projects, in 2006 Besanson started her own line with the philosophy of making her products easy and practical. None of them contain parts that are useless. Even washing instructions and other such labels are considered to be superfluous and are not on any DQB product. A balance has been struck – no fussy bits, but not boring either. “Cosy” is the way the designer describes them, “but not too cosy!”
But what about these ‘cosy’ products? Well, they are all made of recycled fabrics that have been discarded by designers or by fashion labels. These materials are later modified to make them more suitable for the chosen design.
Walking around in the studio you will find a lot of bags, jewellery, purses and scarves, which are certainly not ‘just’ accessories. A lot of creativity and originality is involved. From little wallets made of off cuts of denim to a bedspread made of plastic bags. From a skirt made of the leftover sleeves of a shirt to a bag that is made of street banners.
Besanson works under a golden rule; everything that she designs is sewn, knitted or embroidered in approximately one hour, a production schedule she follows methodically: “One day I draw an outline, the next I sew and the following day I ship.
“The way I work is that I see a certain material or fabric, then think, what can I do with that and then a product is born. Not the other way around; I never have an idea in mind and tyr to work out how to make it with the materials to hand…”
Currently the DQB line consists of approximately 30 products. All of them have been made under the device of simple, functional and interesting. The finished goods are sold in a variety of stores throughout Europe, the US and Latin America, with Besanson’s wholesale strategy based on e-commerce, a tool that enables her to work on a global basis.
Since all of the DQB products are handmade the designer is a big fan of the concept of ‘Do It Yourself’ (DIY), making things with your own hands. And to pass her knowledge and love for DIY on, Besanson gives workshops and she has her ‘DIY Chapters’ in several Argentine magazines.
So trend watchers among us, pay attention: whilst DQB’s products are still rare in Argentina’s fashion world, the concept of sustainability is heating up here, so you might want to bag yourself one of their products quick smart.