*all photos taken by Nuno Vieira and Bernardo Cunha*
Portugal Fashion was great! I sat on the first row at Felipe Oliveira Baptista's show, with a clear view to DSection's editors! The collection is even more amazing life, the fabrics, the cuts, the layers and the shoes are amazing. Felipe is so humble and so is Michael Bastian. Although the collection doesn't match my style and aesthetics, he really is an incredibly nice guy, who gave this inspirational interview to my great and talented friend Bernardo Cunha! Read it and share your opinion with me!
Exclusive interview by Bernardo Cunha
Bernardo Cunha: Hey Michael, it's so nice to meet you! I would like to ask you a few questions. First of all why did you choose Porto to present your new menswear collection for SS 13?
Michael Bastian: Well it was a very easy decision for me, because right now 40% of my line is produced in Portugal and two years ago a 100% was produced in Italy. I'm super excited to really tell the world about Portuguese manufactory. I know we are here at Portugal Fashion and this is a night to really celebrate Portuguese designers, but I'm actually here to celebrate Portuguese manufactory. I don't think many designers, maybe outside of Portugal, realize the level of quality you can get from these family old factories within Portugal. For me as a designer there are two things I really care about: one is the quality of my merchandise and two is the price of my merchandise. Portugal is the one country that really understands both of those factors really well. That's why I'm here!
B.C.: That's a very beautiful message and a very beautiful intention to show the world that Portuguese manufactory is good. We are having such bad times due to economy and I think it's very nice of you wanting to present Portuguese fashion.
M.B.: No, it's my honor to be here and yes, Portugal is in a very tough time right now, but remember America was in a very tough time in 2008 and we're just getting out of it. The funny thing is I've lived through one recession already in America and the luxury client, the designer costumer, doesn't go away. They still care about clothes, the trick is they may buy less, but they buy better. They may instead of buying five things buying two things in the season. They're going to take their time, they're going to hunt for that, they're going to really study it and they're going to buy that one perfect thing for them. What happened in America when the economy fell apart was that we actually had our best year ever in spring 2009. Therefore I think the same thing is going to happen in Europe and in Portugal.
B.C.: So what you're saying is that creating classic and iconic pieces is the key.
M.B.: Exactly! What we always say is we give you that American look, but with European luxury. The fit is a little more designer, but the general expression is really American, you can't mistake it. We like to think when you put American design and European manufactory together, you get this new highbred. It's like we were talking about earlier, men’s fashion is really becoming global and it's hard, for me at least... Well, let me ask you a question. When you're in the airport, it used to be that I can say «he's from Italy», «he's from America», «he's from Portugal» or «he's from Spain». Now I seat in the airport and I can't tell where anyone's from, because I feel like style and being well dressed is now kind of crossing borders. It's just like you look good or you don't look good, it has less to do with what country you're from. We are all reading the same blogs, magazines or watching the same TV shows. I think ideas travel so much faster right now. It's just becoming about what looks good globally.
B.C.: Your point here is that going global in terms of not only technology, but also in fashion and creating a style that is iconic in every place in the world, is the solution.
M.B.: Yeah! Hopefully. That's what I'm proposing. Today it was very interesting. We were putting our clothes on an entire team of a hundred percent Portuguese models and they look different from the models we have in New York or from the models we see in Sweden. It was so great seeing these guys in our clothes, because we saw the Portuguese version. We realized what we do also works on these guys. It's not just an American collection.
B.C.: Some people call you a preppy fashion designer, do you agree with that?
M.B.: Well, I hate the word «preppy». I like to say it's American style, it's just what looks good. «Preppy» is a very tired, overused word and it doesn't really mean so much anymore. So I'm actually trying to scrap «preppy» off my description. This season we kind of made a real effort to do stuff pushing it a bit further. Not just classic.
B.C.: You mean doing avant-garde, but at the same time safe.
M.B.: Exactly. A little bit. Our interpretation of a little edgier. We wanted to get to guys like you, who are a bit more fashion forward. That's how we're going to get a bigger global business. We have to address a bunch of guys.
B.C.: If you see a man dressed head to toe by Michael Bastian, what's your reaction?
M.B.: I run the other direction! I always say I don't even wear my stuff head to toe. I'll mix it up with my Gant stuff. What I love is when I meet someone on the street and you see the guy and then you're like «Oh! Look at your amazing shirt! ». I feel like you should see the guy first. Your clothes make you feel better about yourself, when you leave your apartment in the morning, that's their job. If you're confident and you're happy with yourself, you see the guy. You don't see the clothes first. When it comes to head to toe, I don't expect anyone to wear any of these head to toe. What I would love is you find one perfect piece and buy that shirt, for example, and mix it up with Margiela pants and a Rick Owens jacket. Love yourself!
B.C.: Thank you very much Michael. It was amazing to meet you!