This season, we’re following designer Luis Bonfiglio as he puts together a collection – from the first inception of the designs through to the finished pieces. This issue, we continue with the journey of selecting the fabrics.

In this issue of London Runway, I will talk about the process of selecting the fabrics for my Fall/Winter 19’20 collection.

After I have finished sewing all my prototypes, I take a photo of each design – from the front, side and back so that I have a visual of all the designs from different angles.  The pictures are then uploaded to Photoshop and arranged in an A4 format and then printed out and organised in a folder.  This folder will be an important tool and will be taken with me when I go fabric hunting.

During the original design and construction of the prototypes I would have already started thinking/getting ideas of what kind of materials I will go for, however, sometimes some specific fabrics will be unavailable and as a result, you will have to use alternative fabrics! A perfect example of this was when selecting fabrics for this collection  I wanted to use lots of chiffon but unfortunately, it was off season so alternatively, I had to use super light and soft tulle.  As a result, using tulle as an alternative to chiffon gave more volume to the designs and was actually much better and closer to my vision for this collection.

Fabric shopping and selection is a very time consuming and hard process. You have to go to several different stores as you will never find all the fabrics you need in one store.  For this collection, I bought most of the fabrics in an amazing store in Valencia, Spain. This store was very close to a designer’s dream as it was huge and had hundreds of different types of fabrics! I literally lost track of time and have no idea how many hours I was there. Before travelling to Valencia I did a lot of research on the store to ensure it was the right place to get my fabrics from. The reviews for the store were brilliant and highlighted the fact that they had a great selection of fabrics, in all kinds of different material combinations, colours, designs, and weights. 

Upon arriving at the store I had mixed feelings as it looked a bit old from the outside. So I walked towards the entrance and pushed the door, then entered, and I was without words! I looked around and I was just completely speechless, this store blew me away to fabric heaven. They had three floors full of fabrics, beads, bands, buttons and zippers, just everything you are looking for and it was just the perfect place for me.

The staff there were very helpful and friendly. I was assisted by an older but very knowledgeable gentleman. This gentleman, like the rest of the staff members there, was wearing a cool more or less vintage suit combined in a trendy dandy look.  His English was quite poor, like my Spanish, so we tried to speak some “Spanglish”. It was actually a very funny and rewarding experience there.

I showed him my designs and explained my vision of how the fabrics should be. I told him that I would like to have solid and vibrant colours, not too thin but also not heavyweight. After a lot of explaining he understood my needs and walked with me to a kind of hidden wall section on the ground floor and started showing me fabrics. Roll after roll and he was talking and trying to explain to me what kind of material they were and different ways to use them. This guy was a real professional and he knew exactly what I was looking for.

So I touched all the fabrics he showed me and started to select which ones will come with me and which ones are going to be eliminated. He showed me different fabrics in different material combinations like cotton and wool, or super high-quality synthetics in combination with Cupro or cotton, etc. So depending on your designs, you chose the quality and material combination you need.

For this collection, I knew that I wanted to have high-quality materials, lightweight but at the same time an amazing touch/feel and with vibrant solid colours, no prints and fluid effects.  After finding the main fabrics for my collection, I bought two different lace fabrics, high-quality synthetic fabrics (as with synthetic you can reach vibrant colours), silk and soft tulle.  An important point about fabric is, you get what you pay for. The higher the quality of the fabric is, the more expensive they will be. It also depends on the design of the fabric, the material combination and the weight.

Once I’m back in my studio, all the pictures of my designs are placed on my wall.  I will then look at each picture and choose which design will get which fabric and colour by cutting out fabric samples and placing them on the designs to get a better overview. I will make my final decisions on which design will be made in which fabrics after switching the fabric samples back and forth between the different designs.

And now the biggest and longest procedure of the collection will take place. SEWING ALL THE DESIGNS!

You will see the final garments in the next issue of London Runway.

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