This time, we stop for a while before the E-F-V & Friends Trunkshow with The Concrete, a Spanish menswear brand that has its own unique approach to tailoring. Combing the durable fabrics and rugged styles to classic tailoring, The Concrete has created its unique style that bridges the gap between formal wear and relaxed casual wear, making it very suitable to dress both up and down. If you find rock and roll inspired styles interesting, give The Concrete a good look.
Interview with Fernando García de la Calera – The Concrete:
– You call your approach as “rugged tailoring”. Could you describe the idea behind rugged tailoring and why did you decide to pursue it?
The idea behind rugged tailoring is to make (or have, depending on where you stand, whether maker or customer) bespoke clothes that are both elegant and comfortable. Clothes you can use to go to work, and that will last longer than anything else you would wear. It’s a mix between the historical work wear and tailored elegance. It’s both rugged and tailoring. Hence the association of those two ideas I coined when I began making that type of clothes.
– Of course, there are “icons of denim” in the past, like the famous dinner suit Levi’s made for Bing Crosby. Does your inspiration come more from these icons or from the other areas of menswear?
When I began wondering about making clothes, I wanted to make t-shirts mainly. I come from skateboard, so the idea was making clothes that me and my friends could wear skating. Then I explored a bit more and I wanted to make hoodies. Then, I decided the clothes I would make would be 100% ethical, I even went to Peru to make sure to get the best cotton. Then the crisis came and I had to twist everything, I had to approach things from a different angle. I decided it was time to make a luxury product, something less “fast fashion”. So I met a tailor, I asked him to train me to become a tailor myself. And once that was done, I decided to break the rules of this training and take it back to my level, to the roots I come from. I thought “I want to make a pair of trousers that are both bespoke and that I can wear during my skateboarding”. Only then did I begin to explore denim more profoundly. I discovered a world that was both completely unknown and unexpected.
– Who would you say is your ideal customer?
There is no right answer to this question. I mean, I could style a rock star and it would be amazing to do so, but I like to think that my style can go to any guy (and girl!) that wants to wear something he/she feels confident in. Tailoring has been for a long time an elitist pleasure because it is an expensive one. But right now we see people coming to tailoring that never ever would have come 15, 10 or even 5 years ago… Mentality are changing so really it’s about two things: what fabric do you want to wear – I don’t only work with denim even if it is my main activity – and what aspect do you want to have? Some people want a very uncommon fabric with a very formal cut, others come to me because they like how informal I can be in my designs but want very formal fabrics, I guess I could say a more “noble” fabric – even if, as you surely know, some denims are very noble. So as I said, there is no “ideal” customer, only what the customer wants from me, and what I can offer.
– From what I see, your tailoring would naturally blend into the rock and roll lifestyle. Would you say that is one of your “target groups”?
More than a target, I’d say we do have affinities. If you take a look at my Instagram (@theconcrete), you’ll see that my lifestyle could be described as rock and roll. I drive a Harley Davidson, I’m tattooed… I guess people from this musical industry could relate : )
– The styles that are presented on your website show tailored styles in a bit surprising habitat – with motorcycles. Has the chosen fabric been the inspiration here or did you want to design something especially for motorcycling? A personal hobby, perhaps?
I am I must confess a true motorcycling fan. I bought a few months ago a sportster from Harley Davidson and I followed way before that some guys on Instagram: @elsolitario. Those guys do the most incredible work with motorcycle and I’ve been a fan of theirs for some time now. So I wrote to them and they wrote back to me and decided we would do a little something together. We designed a jacket especially for motorcycling and they helped me with the visual merchandising of my first ready to wear capsule collection I sold in Santa Eulalia, a big concept store in Barcelona. This is a little part of what I do really, but my intention on my website is to reflect who I am.
– Of course, people seldom associate denim with high tailoring. How has the reception been?
I can’t complain really! Up until now, people have been very curious and interested in my work. It tells a lot about this industry and the actors in it. Of course I imagine that some might be surprised and not very keen on it, but really my feeling is that most of the time they just want to know how I do it and how did I decided to do it.
– Does the process follow the bespoke “routine” with fittings? How long does it take from taking the measurements to a complete product?
I’m not sure I should say that as this industry is quite secretive, but I work fast. I take measures, I make it for the first fitting. Some of my customers are happy after the first fitting. If I have to change and/or modify things, I do it without any problem. I’d say in total I need something like 40 hours for a suit.
– Where do you make the products?
It’s changing a lot lately, but I’m quite the nomad (laughs). I’ve been producing in Madrid in a little workshop next to my store for 4 years. Then I moved the workshop to Zaragoza and decided I would come regularly to Madrid, taking only customers through appointments. Then I moved back to Madrid and now I’ll be in Mallorca for the summer, producing there. I feel very inspired by the mediterranean sea lately, and the vibe there is there on the island is not something you can find in Madrid.
– You have done some collaborations with Valtoron and El Solitario Motor Co., for example. What kind of qualities do you wish from collaboration partners?
Both those collaborations came naturally and I’d say that’s one of the conditions. Then, the lifestyle that both those brands show is very similar to the one I want to show, so of course that helps. You will never see me working with a brand or an artist that hasn’t got any interest in common with me. It has to be organic in a way, I have to “click” with the people behind the brands I work with.
– What are your aims for the future?
My goal is to be able to make more bespoke clothes on one hand. I want to take The Concrete to different places in the world, I want to travel with the rugged tailoring all around and make people know about what I’m doing here in Spain. On the other hand I’d like to develop my own ready-to-wear collection, for men and women. First humbly, with few garments, and then maybe one day, with a full collection, twice a year. But above all that, I mostly want to be continue being happy with what I do, both personally of course and then professionally. By that, I mean doing things the way I want to do them, respectfully and without having to renounce my values.
Come and visit The Concrete in E-F-V & Friends Trunkshow 26.-27.5.2017!
26.5.2017 14:00 – 19:00
27.5.2017 12:00 – 18:00
Sankt Eriksgatan 79 – Stockholm