When I was invited to assist in a photo shoot for ETNOS menswear line, I had no idea what to expect. Not only did I fall in love with the work of Ivan Sanchez, but I also gained a new friend. Ivan is a Mexican designer based in Miami, and has been with his husband for over 18 years and they have a three-and-a-half-year-old girl. As soon as I saw his design aesthetic, the fabrics and innovation I was hooked. I sat down with Sanchez for a quick interview to find out more about the man behind ETNOS.
When did you know that designing fashion was part of your calling?
When I was a kid, my grandmother had an old sewing machine and I used to hang out there watching her and my mother work and I dabbled in aspects of the fashion business. I was always passionate about it, but it took me thirty eight years to have the courage to really go for it!
You have a lengthy relationship with the fashion industry apart from being a designer. Tell me a little bit more about that.
I started modeling on catwalks when I was a teenager. I then decided to develop more backstage, so I started from the bottom as a dresser and moved all the way up, from fashion coordination, styling, casting coordination, production and so on. It was only a matter of time before I went and tried designing. Although I started as a costume designer, eventually I decided to get my BFA in fashion design and here I am, with ETNOS, a menswear label.
How would you define the ETNOS man?
In every group of friends there is always the fun one, the crazy one, the adventurous one, the one we all go to when we need to talk about more personal stuff and so on. Usually, there is one that always strives to be different, he is usually more focused on design and has a more sophisticated taste. If you don’t recognize this type in your group of friends, it is very likely that you are him. ETNOS is created for the contemporary men of the world, those who are not afraid of new experiences, those who live life as an adventure and who need to create new traditions. ETNOS is the compass for the traveler to define his own rules and to express them.
Can you describe your aesthetic?
ETNOS strives to solve both design and functionality with tones of casual sophistication, nurtured by the latest advances in technology, cultural trends and ecological needs. Beyond elegance, comfort is a value.
Do you have a routine for your creative process? Where do you get your inspiration?
I get inspiration from almost anything. I do a tremendous amount of research, and I am always open to different sources of inspiration, sometimes it is something I read, sometimes a movie, or a place I visited, the weather, a talk with someone, art, architecture, history or other disciplines, you name it.
Why did you decide to do a made-to-order line, and do you have a desire to launch a larger line?
I always try to create something unique. Every piece has an “especially made for me” feeling to it. Making it one of a kind is the only logical response to that. My costumers know that what they are wearing is not something they’ll see anywhere else. Even if they recognize an element of it such as the material, the finish or even the silhouette, the rest of it is different.
I don’t really have an interest in doing mass production, no. I like keeping a level of dialogue and intimacy in my work. The largest productions I offer are limited edition capsule collections where I explore a concept and release a larger proposal. But, no, I don’t believe in mass production and am opposed to what you would call fast fashion.
What continues to drive you?
Life itself. I feel a constant need to create. I sometimes even have to pause designing, because I need to explore other creative routes, like photography, creative writing, experimental costume design, among other things.
I believe that collaboration is the best way to explore, learn and improve as a creative person. So I am always open and looking for ways to collaborate with other creative people. I almost never say no to a collaboration.
How has paternity influenced your practice?
It redefined it completely. From having to put my label on hold for several years in order to stay at home and take care of my daughter full time, to changing the way I see life completely. I learned, and am still learning, a lot about patience, to respect the natural time of things, flexibility, and my understanding of functionality is totally different now. I have also learned about the infinite possibilities of loving (total cheese ball here, feel free to laugh).
Who is your dream person/celebrity/public figure you’d love to design for? Why?
I am a total geek so any superhero actor would be brilliant. But honestly, anyone would be great. Every person represents a challenge on their own so it makes it exciting to just present my work to anyone.
Check out Etnos on Instagram @etnosfashion.