Today is International Hat day and we thought that it is about time to write an article about this iconic accessory. Back in the day, men and women wore it on a daily. It served as protection from the sun, and to symbolize status. Now it is a special piece for special occasions: weddings, high-end gatherings, and events like the horse races. Also, as in Dubai, we get to enjoy the Dubai World Cup every year it is always great to talk about the fantastic hats, fascinators, turbans, and headpieces you could wear. That is the reason why we decided to pay tribute to our headpieces. Because they are gorgeous but they can also be slow, sustainable, and socially responsible!
We got to ask some questions to our Goshopia resident milliner: Ines Montesinos. Based in Spain, creating amazing hats and fascinators have been in her family for generations. She helps us understand better what materials and work are behind each of her pieces.
After that, we share with you some very unique turbans you can wear too to have a unique look. Are you ready to turn heads? We are for sure!
THE INTERVIEW: INES MONTESINOS MILLINERY
Ines, How long have you been making hats?
As a company, Montesinos Vilar was founded more than 10 years ago, in 2010. But this is a family tradition business. In 1900, María Dolores Ruiz Echevarría -our great-great-grandmother- created her hat shop in Paris. Her legacy of style and savoir-faire continues today with her great-great-granddaughters.
How did you learn millinery?
The art of millinery is something innate in us. Since we were little we have made hair ornaments for friends and for ourselves. It was part of our games. Over time and in a very organic way we considered doing some training.
During the training, you discover that the only thing your heart asks of you is to experiment with textures, pigments, fabrics … I guess it is the benefit of being self-taught growing up using trial and error. For us, it is total happiness to get in the flow and start creating. Time flies for us while creating between iron plates and silks. You feel that your soul is linked with love and respect to this beautiful and creative craft that our great-great-grandmother gave us.
Her teachings live on and we keep on learning and exploring every day. We feel like apprentices with the same illusion as the first day. In our workshop, we continue to work with the same traditional millinery techniques with which our great-great-grandmother worked. Even some of our tools are inherited from her Paris shop such as the iron plates.
SUSTAINABLE HAT MAKING
What materials do you normally use?
The materials we use are natural fibers such as sinamay. It is a very fine fabric that comes from the abaca, pita, and banana fiber. It can be mixed with silk or cotton and it is originally from the Philippines. We also use Capelina from Panama, woven made by textile artisans in the Equator.
The pigments we use are mostly from plants (from leaves, stems, fruits, and also roots).
Are your hats unique pieces?
Montesinos Vilar Millinery creates an annual collection, but we also do customizations and even create designs from scratch upon demand. We have clients who like to combine for example the wing of a particular pamela hat, the cup of another, and the ornament of another, so they create their own design.
Also, some clients show us their desired look (dress, shoe, bag …) and we create a hat that will go and complement the rest of the style.
How can we take care of the pieces, once purchased?
Hats are delicate. For the pieces to last over time they must be properly stored in their box, wrapped in silk paper. Inside the box, we always add a Laurel leaf as it is a natural moth repellent. By doing this, your hat will be enjoyed for generations to come.
If the hat or headpiece suffers any deformity, you can contact our workshop and we will advise you what to make for your specific piece.
AMAZING TURBANS TO WEAR AND IMPRESS
Turbans are also headpieces we love. Not only because they are part of our heritage but also because they look so good and are so elegant! Check these we have selected from our luxury edition. Aren’t they lovely?
Today we want to welcome Nice Hand Brand as a new member of the Goshopia family. Nice Hand is the result of love, complicity, and understanding between mother and daughter. Yep! You hear it right. This brand is coming out of a Mother-Daughter duo that are best friends. Want to know how they make it work? This is their story.
A FAMILY WITHIN A FAMILY
Hi Monica! Hi Celia!
You always had a very special connection. How is it now to work together? Has the family dynamics changed?
Monica.- Yes, we’ve always gotten along extraordinarily well. For me, Celia was a dream come true and since she was born we have had a very, very special relationship. I always say that Celia is not only my daughter, she is my best friend. And it is precisely from that very special connection that Nice Hand was born. Actually, what has changed is that now is that we are almost always talking about Nice Hand! Every day is different and there is always something to comment on. Although sometimes we are many kilometers away, we are always connected!
How was the process to decide to start your own fashion brand?
Celia.- The love for fashion, style and a lost gene that was calling me on the path of entrepreneurship have really come together. Many times we spoke about how wonderful it would be to be able to have our own clothing brand. What began as an illusion, little by little gained more strength until a summer afternoon in 2019. I remember it perfectly. I was on the terrace of my house with my mother. We were talking non-stop and suddenly we said to each other Why not? And from there, we were clear that there was no going back. We would do it. And from then until today, we began to learn, to look for fabrics, to capture our first designs, search for a pattern maker, atelier… until, in April 2021, Nice Hand sees the light!
STARTING UP A DREAM
You both have very different backgrounds. How do you organize the work?
M.- Precisely because of that connection and because we know each other so well everything flows very easily. Even the division of tasks is very spontaneous. We usually work as a team, nevertheless, it is true that there are tasks that we are clear about which of us is going to develop them because one of us is better at it. But then we both supervise everything and we give the go-ahead jointly.
NICE HAND PLANET & PEOPLE VALUES
Why it was important that the new brand would be sustainable and eco-friendly?
C.- Nice Hand at the end is an extension of us, of our way of thinking, of living, of our principles and values. It all started with food. At home, we have always eaten as healthy as possible. I always remember seeing my mother reading the labels and discarding food. Then it was the turn of the cosmetics, also trying to buy them as natural as possible, and then it was the turn of the clothes. One thing led to another.
When we went to the shops – we enjoy very much going together-, we gradually began to look at the composition of the garments, the place where they were made, where they came from … We were increasingly concerned about the brand’s commitment to the environment, to the workers… In the end, we talk about a lifestyle beyond fashion. We wanted that from the beginning Nice Hand would bear our identity stamp. For this reason, sustainability and commitment to the planet, people, and ourselves are implicit in its DNA.
We are in a continuous search for fabrics. We select them for their quality, for their beauty, and for their sustainability. They must always meet these three requirements. That is why we always demand certifications that guarantee their sustainability. Being a small brand and placing small orders, it gets quite complicated. However, we are convinced that the world of fashion is evolving little by little and we hope that it will be increasingly easier to have access to this type of fabric and suppliers.
CREATIVITY IN HOUSE
Who is the creative hand to come up with the designs?
M.- Celia is undoubtedly the more creative of the two. With two strokes is able to capture any idea that we have in mind. In any case, we love to discuss the designs together, and between the two of us perfect them until they see the light.
By the way, tell us the story about the name.
C.- The name was one of the things we decided on first. We took our time. We wanted that when pronounced, it would simply give you a good vibe and a good feeling. One day I woke up in the morning and it just popped into my head. I ran to find my mother and I said, what do you think of Nice Hand? And she loved it. We tested it with family and friends, and it gave everyone a good feeling. It was final then! It would be called Nice Hand!!
FASHION CAN HAVE A POSITIVE IMPACT
Where is your atelier? How many people work with you there?
We are a brand that has just been born, so that the two of us carry out almost all, ie. the designs, marketing, web tasks… For patterns, we have a couple of highly experienced pattern makers who know how to put these pieces together perfectly to give life to our designs. At this time we work with a small atelier of three or four people located a few kilometers away from our house. That way, we can go very often and have a fluid relationship with them.
What kind of impact would you want to create in the world through your brand?
M.- Our mission from the beginning is to offer quality, designer garments, at fair prices. We are working to make you fall in love with them, excite you. But at the same time, we want the garments to show our principles. They are full of values and beauty. We want to generate a positive impact through our garments. Our garments are proof that there is another way of doing things.
ALAY&CO just joined the Goshopia family with their beautiful sustainable clothes and we want to welcome them by introducing you to their masterminds. Meet Andrea and Isidora. These two Chilean ladies are the creative powerhouses that fuel the designs and ethos behind ALAY&CO, a Spanish fashion brand, based in Madrid fueled by Latin hearts.
Now you can get all their gorgeous pieces in the Middle East at Goshopia.com with the Free shipping worldwide. What are you waiting for? For sure, you will like them all!
MEET THE DESIGNERS BEHIND ALAY&CO
What got you to start a sustainable clothing brand?
What led us to create ALAY&CO was the desire to positively contribute to the planet by minimizing the environmental impact and establishing a circular economy based in our passion and knowledge: Design and aesthetics.
Through fashion, we seek that people choose consciously, opting for timeless and versatile sustainable garments that transcend in time by guaranteeing their quality.
We want to connect with people who share our same values and philosophy of creating a conscious habit consumption and having a responsible lifestyle. We do this by offering a reliable and sustainable alternative when it comes to dressing so everyone can feel authentic and confident at any occasion.
THE ROAD LESS TRAVELLED
What challenges did you find?
Along our path we have faced many challenges. Sustainable fashion requires meeting high standards. For us, one of the most important factors is to respect each production chain link, from who makes our garments to who buys them to wear and enjoy them.
We understand that sustainability is a challenging area and that involves a long journey. At ALAY & CO we not only produce garments with sustainable materials, but we also seek to create a sustainable business model, avoiding encouraging compulsive shopping.
Along with the sustainability criteria, there is also the need to generate a change on people’s habit when choosing their garments. We want them to prefer those that are sustainable, understanding the benefits it has for them and for the environment. It is about choosing a conscious lifestyle by buying less and of a better quality.
With all that said, we also face another big challenge which is having to work remotely. We are two Chilean partners, one based in Spain and the other in Chile, and it has not been easy to learn how to coordinate everything considering the different time zone, but every difficulty has its positive side and we have gain the understanding of seeing these challenges as opportunities to carry out our project.
ETHERNAL STATE OF MIND
What is the meaning of the name ALAY&CO?
ALAYA – Universal Soul. Thinking of all the souls and living beings that live in this world + Co – Company. We know that working as a team and sharing ideas is very important for the project to succeed. ALAY&CO comes from the word “Alaya” considering the need to protect the planet, people and animals.
We think of all those who live in this world in order to improve their quality of life. We do it with the support of those who share our same ideals, understanding that collaboration is key to generate the impact we want to accomplish. It is about encouraging the responsibility needed to become aware of who we are, where we live and that all our decisions have an impact on the world we inhabit. This belief goes along with our Eternal State of Mind philosophy, which is spread through our actions. We want our Alay community to consciously buy and prefer those garments that last over time and that create stories that will go on from generation to generation.
Acting consciously today means taking care of those who will arrive tomorrow, and that through our actions, such as being informed at the time of buying and choosing sustainable garments, we can make a big difference. We are convinced that we will contribute, in one way or another, to souls from this eternal universe.
The Alay woman has style and attitude. She chooses to feel and look good in a responsible way and tend to lean towards what is fair and ethical. She also looks for simplicity in her day a day dress style without having to trade off glam or elegance. A conscious, authentic and empowered woman who understands that dressing responsible promotes social and environmental change.
She is consistent with her way of being, thinking, and living, and aware that her daily actions and habits can generate a positive impact on her environment. She chooses her clothes in an informed and conscious way because she knows that what to add to her wardrobe is today an important and meaningful decision. What determines the Alay woman is not a specific age but her acting through her habits and her responsible behavior.
INGREDIENTS OF A MASTERPIECE
What are your favorite materials for Alay&Co?
Our three favorite sustainable materials today are Linen, Bemberg and Organic Cotton.
We love Linen because in addition to being the historical fiber by excellence, it’s comfortable, and has great resistance to degradation by heat. Bemberg is another of our must-haves because it’s a soft fiber with great durability, and similar to silk in texture. This pure cellulose fiber wraps the cotton seeds. Due to its durability and breathability, it has been used as the luxurious overall fabric for ages. Organic Cotton, has this extreme softness that we love. The process of harvesting by hand, preserves the purity of each fiber. These attributes take into account the human, animal and environmental welfare that also aligns with the fashion industry best internationally recognized practices.
The Alay woman stands out for being transversal and versatile, just like the clothes she likes to wear. Among the values behind her style are her self-confidence and coherence within her actions. She prefers to feel comfortable using a smart-casual attire and prioritizes esthetics and quality with a minimalist concept. She thinks, lives, and feels under a more conscious way.
SHARING THE GOODNESS
What is your message for the people that don’t know how pollutant fast fashion is?
Fashion is the second most pollutant industry in the world after oil. Fortunately, there are ways to minimize this impact. This is why we feel the need to create a fashion-style that positively contributes to the ecosystem in all its forms. We invite you to be part of our conscious journey to achieve this goal.
Today our planet is threatened by various companies that allow high contamination in their production processes. According to the latest data from United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD), making jeans requires about 7,500 liters of water per unit, the equivalent amount that an average person drinks in seven years. Crazy, right? This is just one example of many others that should worry us considering the effect on our health and carbon footprint.
On the other way, Slow Fashion is purposeful and considers the whole product lifecycle and the impacts on workers, communities and the ecosystems. It is a different approach that encourage the use of fabrics that have little to no adverse effects on the environment. Slow fashion is ethical and works under the principle of buying garments for quality and longevity.
Where would you want to see your brand in the next 5 years?
Our vision is to be a world leading company in the field of sustainable fashion. We dream that people, through the way they dress and by being aware and informed when choosing their clothes, will make a difference in the world.
If people prioritize buying better-quality garments that will last for longer we will all be reducing the number of garments we have in our closets today. We aspire to be as friendly as possible with our environment, to become a B corporation and to have an entire production chain working dynamically under a circular economy model to minimize our carbon footprint.
At Alay&Co collaborative work, ethics, transparency and the human effort behind each decision is key. This is why we want our actions to be reflected in metrics and results, so we can prove that our work is a real contribution to generate a triple positive impact: social, economic and environmental.
We are convinced that what today looks like a trend in terms of sustainable fashion, is actually a sign of what our planet desperately needs, and we have to be conscious and make decisions around it.
Today we are introducing you to Sheen, the first Saudi jewelry designer who showcased at London Fashion Week. In this interview, Nosheen Baksh, the designer behind Sheen, unveils the challenges she faced during the launch of her label, her inspiration, her personal development, her sustainable and ethical journey as a business and so on…
Nosheen says that whats she loves most about fashion is that the options are limitless. “You’re a blank canvas and you curate what you like”. We couldn’t agree more! and if what you are curating and wearing is sustainable and ethical! Then, it is even better. Continue reading MEET OUR JEWELRY DESIGNER: SHEEN