Every year we remember the victims of the Rana Plaza disaster during Fashion Revolution Week. The global fashion community comes together to create a better fashion industry from the 19th to 25th April and beyond whilst remembering the anniversary of this shocking event on the 24th April. This year I spoke to Fashion Revolutionary, Lupe Castro, CEO of FashionSpace.World and founder of Ms Castro Rides.
Lupe was one of the first digital influencers and is a renowned creative director, writer, fashion and lifestyle expert. She is also one of the world’s leading stylists to both emerging and established designers. I was fortunate enough to be seated next to Lupe at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week in January 2019 and was impressed by her style, grace and interest in all those within her sphere. We have become firm fashion friends and she has championed and encouraged me in my fashion writing. I could think of no better person to interview for Fashion Revolution Week to find out how the fashion industry is changing.
- You were one of the world’s first digital influencers. Can you tell us about your work?
Well, I have always loved every facet of fashion. I think because I see it as a canvas that becomes my way of expressing myself. Whenever I meet a designer that helps me say what I want to say, I feel like I want to help push them to succeed in any way I can. This is kind of how my online presence came about. At the beginning it was also my way of keeping up with people while on the road travelling on a motorbike – hence Ms Castro Rides. I also use my platform for inclusivity in fashion and to promote sustainable fashion – both of which, to me, are the only future of the industry. As my online presence has grown, my work has been more about writing, consulting and selling than styling and branding but all will be changing soon and you know I love doing it all.
- We met at Paris Haute Couture Fashion Week. Do you have a favourite fashion week out of the many you have seen?
Each one is special and excites me in its own unique way. Talking about the ‘Big Four’ specifically, I love how quirky London Fashion Week is and the fact that it is a breeding ground for innovative and pioneering ideas and concepts. In Milan, Fashion Week is about material excellence, with shows taking place in mind-blowing historical settings. New York has an energy that is particularly business minded, which means I often don’t get a chance to hear about some of their more niche designers. As for Paris, the city is my spiritual home and I love how their fashion week gets all my senses fired up in one go!
- Has COVID 19 affected your work?
My writing work as a foreign fashion correspondent dried up overnight. I also had to shelve my work on fashionspace.world; and my gorgeous, themed apartment that I was renting to vintage lovers in Tenerife had to be sold. Travel was also off the cards, which affected my work as I wasn’t able to go out and find inspiration! It is on my travels that I come across emerging new designers, and amazing local labels that deserve more recognition on the global stage. I’ve only just started travelling again recently, on a road trip around Europe with long stops in Prague and Portugal under lock down, and it feels like my soul is being fed after months of starvation!
- Do you have an all-time favourite fashion designer?
Hmmm. This is such a hard question as there are so many! I guess if I had to pick it would have to be a tie between Courreges and Cristobal Balenciaga, because of the unique ways they approach fashion. Courreges studied to be a civil engineer before he went into fashion, and that streamlined approach was visible in his modernist collections. As for Balenciaga, he was introduced to fashion by his seamstress mother, and worked at a tailors from the age of 10 years old. This early start characterised his later work at his own atelier. And I adore this perfectionist sartorial approach in his collections, materials and techniques.
- You are known for having a fabulous vintage collection. Can you tell us about that?
I have loved fashion since I was 8 years old, and especially those extra special couture pieces that were so beautifully made and had so much detail. When I first started collecting as a teenager, these pieces were still affordable. The big designers only did two seasons each year, so you could pick up second-hand marvels for a fraction of the price. I would pick up pieces that really stood out to me from vintage treasure troves in London, Paris and Spain, some of my collection is also direct hand-me-downs from older family members and friends who understand my appreciation. Most of the pieces are from the 70s, and I really have a bit of everything. I am actually currently selling a lot of the collection, curating it more. You can find out more about Lupe’s fabulous vintage collection on Etsy.
- Why should we buy more vintage pieces?
Well for starters vintage pieces are always unique and one-off so there’s not risk of getting caught in a ‘who-wore-it-best’ situation! Then there’s its durability. These vintage pieces were built to last more than a couple of years, so the quality and craftsmanship and needlework is usually superior to fast fashion rubbish! I also love the history that comes with each piece. Throwaway culture and fast fashion was not around yet when I started collecting and thank goodness because I just don’t find any joy in the generic high street styles.
- What should we look for when vintage shopping ?
I would always start by looking for the label of a piece. That can tell you a lot about the piece’s history, when it was made, as well as its quality and value. The material and cut is also important. But, if a piece you love doesn’t quite fit, you can always have it tailored, shortened and adjusted. In my time, I’ve taken out shoulder pads, added zips, removed seams, taken up hems – you name it, I’ve done it when it comes to vintage alterations! Then it’s about just finding those timeless classics that will never go out of style. I also like to look for bold statement pieces that I can pair with multiple different looks.
- Do you have any favourite Australian fashion designers?
I have a bit of a penchant for the Romance Was Born label by Anna Plunkett and Luke Sales. I just love their innovative use of materials and of course their fabulous use of colour – I am all about lots of colour! I also love Ginger & Smart by Sydney-based sisters Alexandra and Genevieve Smart. They combine a contemporary, luxury aesthetic, with a sustainable outlook and their pieces are just timeless. There are lots of emerging designers using recycled materials which is always great. Other Australian designers I have my eye on these days are Steven Khalil and Aleem Yusuf.
- You also champion emerging designers? Who should we be watching out for?
I’m in Prague at the moment and there are just so many talented emerging creatives here. Like Teresa Rosalie Kladosva who does funky pieces with beautiful prints. You can pick up her stuff at the Charaktery Design Store in Prague or from her website. Benjamin Benmoyal is another one to watch – he does these unique pieces using fabric woven from recycled audio and video cassette tapes. Arturo Obegero and Mansour Martin are also both revolutionising fashion through sustainability, the latter of whom is also well known for his genderless collections. Also keep an eye out for London-based Kaushick Velandra and Kenneth Ize.
- What does Fashion Revolution Week mean to you?
To me, Fashion Revolution is a chance to think positively about the way the fashion business is going, but also an opportunity for us to really understand how far we still have to go. It is a time to remember the negative impact that the fashion industry has had on people and the planet. So many people have died in the name of fashion and it has to STOP.
It’s also a great chance to really listen to experts and be aware of the choice we all have as consumers, to influence the industry. But also a chance to show that collectively as an industry we can be a shining example of sustainability and ethics. We can lead by example and help change the world!
- What are you up to next?
I am currently working on the Fashion Styling Challenge, which starts on June 7th and runs for 3 days. It’s a challenge for anyone struggling to look stylish while also keeping sustainability in the equation as well; for those who love fashion but understand and care about the fact that what we put into our shopping carts comes at a price to the environment. We’re aiming to put the fun back into sustainable fashion without compromising on style of ethical values.
There will be a link on my linktree on all my social platforms @mscastrorides. We will show participants how to create 3 different looks, using only a couple of key pieces. The challenge is to recreate the looks and post them on social media using the hashtags. The best looks over the course of the challenge will be picked as the winners , with prizes of course!
Lupe Castro is a collector of ideas, fashion and people and someone who nurtures and champions all those around her. Her quirky, colourful and eclectic fashion sense is a joy to see and her knowledge and passion of the fashion industry, plus her charismatic personality, is an inspiration to all who meet and follow her. You can find out more about Lupe and her passion for fashion on her entertaining blog @mscastrorides or through Fashion Space World. She is a true advocate of sustainability, fashion and emerging talent and that is why #She Inspires. I will definitely be following along on the challenge to create some new looks from the pieces I already have in my wardrobe. Let’s create a Fashion Revolution.
Freelance writer, wife and mother of three sons, occasional supply teacher and aspiring romance author, Michelle Beesley can be most often found in a coffee shop chatting with friends or beside a rugby field cheering on her favourite teams.
Michelle is a prolific—albeit reluctant—traveller, keen walker, bookworm and yoga enthusiast who loves anything pink or sparkly (including champagne!).