Friday, September 13, 2013

Interview with Fabio Costa and Rebecca Diele of NotEqual

The last time I spoke with NotEqual, Fabio Costa and Rebecca Diele were breathlessly caught up in the hurricane that is Kickstarter. Days before their crowdsourcing deadline, they had just returned from their fashion show in El Paseo and spoke to me early on a Sunday morning with an impressive calm and focus.
A couple months on, they have completed a successful Kickstarter campaign and are busy preparing for shows and fielding media attention...

Q: Fabio, Rebecca, congratulations on successfully completing your Kickstarter. I can’t help thinking your success hinges a lot on the unique perspective you bring to fashion through gender-neutral clothing that is still enviably hip. For the uninitiated, tell us a little about NotEqual’s place in the fashion industry.

Quite honestly we're still figuring it out, a discovery we're excited to experience. Our intention, however, is to embrace the idea of the organic human form, which fundamentally is gender-neutral and challenge people to find that part of themselves in our pieces, where self-expression is not man or woman, but both.

Q: I’ve seen comments from your fans about how much they appreciate your gender neutral clothing. Would both of you say that freedom for gender expression in clothes comes from your own lives?

We did not set out consciously to express our experiences in our designs; however, growing up, we played with various concepts of style, sending a personal message through fashion of who we were and how we wanted to be viewed. This message was usually unconventional and acknowledged sexuality, gender and social variables. Now, we have a clearer and broader understanding of these topics and we aim to help people express themselves through our clothing, free from social paradigms.

Q: Tell us more about your unique sizing structure.

In nature, there is a harmony in proportions, also repeated in the human body, this is referred to in scientific literature as the golden ratio. We create designs that correspond to this ideal and have based our measuring and pattern system on it as well. This approach has resulted in a new, genderless sizing scale, with three sizes.

Q: When you’re putting together a runway presentation, what is the most important element you focus on?

Cohesion is very important. Each collection proposes something new and a runway presentation is really all about telling a story, one that brings each audience member into the experience. They become participants in our vision and by the end of the presentation are excited and inspired by it. We hope, then, that they can see at the very least, a part of themselves in our collection.

Q: What about for photoshoots?

It's an opportunity for the actual concept to come through and for the collection pieces to have their moment in the spotlight (literally!). We look at our photo shoots as a collaborative experience, relishing the opportunity to work with different artists (makeup, stylist, hair etc.) to express the concept and show off the collection details.

Q: Well, for those who haven't seen one of your incredible photoshoots, they need to check out "Proportion Studies." Such a great shoot! Now, who is your NotEqual customer?

Someone with a sense of independence, with courage, who prefers to take a risk, especially risks related to our aesthetic. But we also think our customer is very aware of styling and will fit our pieces into her/his wardrobe with a certain joie de vivre.

Q: How much influence does Brooklyn have on NotEqual?

We get a lot of inspiration from our environment and since we spend time in Brooklyn, naturally there is some influence, however it is a secondary influence, not a direct one.

Q: I can’t help thinking, Fabio, that your taste for musicians like Andrew Bird, Grizzly Bear and St. Vincent comes across in the breezy, hip vibe of your creations. How much influence does folk and indie music have on NotEqual?

When you take the digital production away from music, you get to see soul. Folk music feels more like a simple, organic expression and I think this is what I also try to capture in my work.

Q: Fabio, what is your advice to artists who have achieved a major goal- say runner up on Project Runway- to keep the ball rolling after their success?

Partner up with a good friend, because you can't do it alone! No really, it's important to find those partners and supporters who will embark on the journey with you.

But most importantly, don't give up. Do whatever you need to do, just make sure you continue to do what you love. Because there is nothing better.

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