The VMA (Video Music Awards) awards, where the American network MTV celebrates the best of the audiovisual scene, are not usually considered the most elegant event of the year. In fact, they can be a challenge to the eye: since 1984, a baroque feast of impossible outfits has been organized in them – from Busta Rhymes’s kimono with pants in 1997 to Rose McGowan’s nude dress, to the carnivorous audacity of Lady Gaga in 2010– which seems to defy the laws of any style referee.
The one that was held last Sunday seemed an edition aimed at the same destination. Madonna wore an outfit dominatrix. The rapper of the moment, Lil Nas X, was from Versace. Nothing suggested that singer Shawn Mendes (Ontario, 23 years old) would come to offer the elegant counterpoint of the appointment.
The Canadian arrived at the Barclays Center in Los Angeles dressed in an ivory cold wool suit and satin lapel over a tight white T-shirt, showing that there is always a middle ground between a tuxedo and a hell of a transformist. But the substance of the matter lay in who signed the label of his outfit: the Spanish Jaime Álvarez (Seville, 27 years old), founder and creative director of the Mans firm that a few months ago was the winner of the Who’s On Next award that it awards annually Vogue Spain to a young designer.
“I can’t say that I had the slightest idea that our suit was going to end up on the red carpet, because I’d be lying,” he confesses on the other end of the phone. The only thing this creator, born in 1994 in a town called La Luisiana, knew is that Mendes’ entourage of stylists wanted a couple of the brand’s models. Within hours a handful of suits were flying to California. “They notified us from the communication agency that we have in Paris. We had no certainty if he was going to wear that or any of the suits that we sent, and when he had already lost some hope, the miracle happened, “he recalls.
The word miracle It might sound like hyperbole, but being associated with a name like Mendes almost deserves it. The singer-songwriter learned guitar through YouTube videos at age 14; Months later he dominated it in the versions that he uploaded to the defunct Vine platform and today he is one of those gifted students of the Justin Bieber school: he accumulates 63 million followers on Instagram and 26 on Twitter. His publications usually attract an average of 20,000 comments (triple if his partner, Camila Cabello is included) and the image that he shared wearing Mans, specifically, earned him two million of those quoted likes.
The ensemble, inspired by the 1970s with echoes of the Parisian dandy embodied by men like Jacques de Bascher, is a sample of the reformed tailoring that Álvarez has been working on since he left the IED in Madrid in 2017. “I have always believed that a A good suit has to stay in the closet for two or three generations, as it happened to me with my grandfather’s. He was one of the most elegant men that I remember and he cared for his jackets like treasures, hence I keep many of them ”.
It is precisely the first name of his grandfather, Demans, who gave his name to his brand, which has been growing on the 080 catwalk in Barcelona, his Madrid counterpart, in Milan and in Paris, where he was in June 2020. ” I have my roots well established in Spain, but it would not make sense to design for a local audience. Most of our clients are in Asian countries, so I think about how to make a very characteristic design something that has a global reach, and that anyone can like ”, Álvarez adds.
His signature adds to the list of young Spanish creators who use music to broaden their reach. He is accompanied in this group by the Catalan Archie M. Alled-Martínez, who dressed some of the stops of the Harry Styles tour in 2019 thanks to the sharpness of his stylist, Harry Lambert, or the renewed Pertegaz, chosen by the singer and actress Zendaya last April. “I don’t think it’s so much about a famous character wearing something of mine, rather that it makes sense and helps us expand this little world we’ve created,” says Álvarez.
In that universe, that of creators who try to renew European industry through traditional tailoring and freedom of expression and genres, there is also Alejandro Gómez Palomo, the Frenchman Ludovic de Saint Sernin or the Scotsman Charles Jeffrey from his collective signature Loverboy, Finalist for the LVMH Prize in 2018 and one of those chosen to receive the BFC Foundation Fashion Fund award arising from the COVID-19 crisis.
“I think that we are all united by a feeling of wanting to do things well, or at least in a different way from how this system had been working,” says Álvarez, who after the award of Vogue and the simplification of his signature – he has simplified the original name of Mans Concept Menswear to simply Mans – has been able to strengthen the structure of his company and the jobs of his small team.
However, it continues to vindicate the artisanal pampering that inhabits each of its garments as an antidote to fashion. disposable. “We work with the best raw materials, tremendous attention to detail, and a final goal: to create garments that can last for many years,” he announces. “I want to think that one of the best reflections this year has brought us is that we don’t need so much to live: when you can have ten items that you want to wear every day, it makes no sense to have 500 things that you hate for the simple fact of accumulate”.
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“We had no idea it was going to end up on the red carpet”: Mans, the Spanish firm that dresses global star Shawn Mendes