I met fashion designer Andrea Igreja at the posh Redwood Room at the Clift Hotel. Andrea is the co-founder of Explode La Mode, which features hot new designers in their fashion shows. When she arrived, she was looking positively stunning in a sleek little black dress, opaque black tights, and… Walksoftz! I had on mine, too! We laughed and complimented each other’s style choice, and right then I knew that this was going to be fun! After we chose a table to chat at, we both changed into our heels and got to the interview. Enjoy!
Andrea and I posing for photos after our interview. :)
Walk Street Movement: Do you feel your formal college education helped prepare you for working in the industry? What education and training has helped prepare you the most?
Andrea: I have a degree in Fashion Design from a two-year college in Brazil. It gave me a really good idea of how the fashion scene was. At the end of my schooling, I knew how to come up with a whole collection, and how to work at fashion events. I had a friend invite me once to one of his fashion events, and I fell in love with this kind of scene. And that’s how I figured out- that’s what I want to do. School was nice to show me how a collection is created, and how to PRESENT the collection at a fashion show.
WSM: Did you always know you wanted to do fashion design?
Andrea: I always knew it would be something related to art. When I was a teenager, I wanted to do something with art. But then when I found out they actually had a school specifically for fashion design, that is when said, “Ok, that’s what I’m doing.” It was my first choice of degrees for college; I never switched majors- I knew that was what I wanted. And actually, when I was 18, my first job was as a booking agent for Ford Models in Brazil!
WSM: Ford Models in Brazil?!
Andrea: Yes! So that really was my first peek into the fashion industry.
WSM: So you are from Brazil, right? How does your background contribute to your concept of fashion?
Andrea: We think of America as a place that has a lot of brands everybody knows. But in Brazil, we don’t have the same resources. For example, we have to work with limited fabrics; we don’t have all of the kinds of fabrics that you are able to find here in America. So we would watch the fashion shows in America, and really had to use our creativity to think of how we can get close to that working with what we had available.
WSM: What one piece of advice would you give to someone wanting to get involved in the fashion industry?
Andrea: I need to say that it’s not all about glamour like everybody thinks! Like, for example, working with fashion shows, whenever I tell people that, they say “Oh wow, that’s so awesome! What a dream job!” But, you know, it is still a job, and I have a lot of responsibilities. You have to always be on time, and there is a lot of pressure- I need to emphasize that. In two minutes, things can change. Do not start in the fashion industry if you don’t work well under pressure! You need to be able to stay calm in crazy situations, because something always happens that you didn’t expect.
WSM: People always say, “Its all about the shoes.” As a fashion professional, why do you think shoes are so important?
Andrea: I totally agree- because the shoe can change the whole look! If you come up wearing a tank top and jeans and a pair of flip-flops, you look like you’re cleaning your house. But if you come wearing tank top, jeans, and a pair of sexy heels, you look like you’re ready to go wherever you want to go. They really can change the entire look.
Nicky Hilton dressing up jeans and a tank with some sexy heels!
WSM: What is Explode La Mode and what about it inspires you?
Andrea: Explode La Mode started in Portland, Oregon 3 years ago. We just recently decided to bring it to San Francisco; because the fashion scene here is growing so much right now- it’s the right moment to start doing fashion shows. I really like that our shows launch new designers- we always feature the Bay Area’s hottest up and coming designers. We actually just had our first show here in San Francisco on April 30th at Som Nightclub in the Mission, and it was a huge success! Also, we always partner with a local non-profit. That really inspired me to want to get involved with this Explode La Mode. Our first show helped raise money for “A Home Within”, and it was really nice to promote their charity and help raise money for them.
WSM: You teamed up with the Walk Street Movement on your most recent show. Why did you think Walksoftz roll-up flats would be a good fit for a fashion show and what has been the feedback?
Andrea: I can tell you that Walksoftz have saved my life! I walk a lot, and I don’t have a car. It’s awesome to have shoes that are actually cute and go with what I’m wearing, and then I can carry them inside my bag when I arrive at my location and need to put my heels on. The models use them too- they have similar lifestyles- running to the next casting, running late; you can’t run in high heels! And they’re CUTE, much more polished than, say, flip-flops. Everyone thinks they’re great because they’re so light and they don’t take a lot of space in your bag, which is important.
A couple photos from the fashion show. :)
WSM: What is next for you and Explode La Mode?
Andrea: We are planning on doing our next fashion show in San Francisco sometime this fall. But we are going to actually do one in LA this summer. The plan is to have one show in San Francisco for spring semester, then a show in LA in the summer, and then another show in San Francisco again for fall semester. Also, we plan on expanding to Canada in the future. For now, keep on the lookout for upcoming Explode La Mode fashion Shows in Los Angeles and San Francisco!
The producers of Explode la Mode.
Andrea was interviewed by WSM's Brianna Beall. :)