For W The Originals’ annual portfolio, we asked creatives — pioneers in art, design, fashion, comedy, activism and more — to share their thoughts on staying true to yourself. You can view this year’s full class of announcements here.
Ed Mendoza were recently awarded the L’Oréal Professionnel Creative Award, honoring the most original fashion collections created by Central Saint Martins alumni. As a young designer, how do you feel about your work being recognized by the industry?
It’s very emotional. He worked very hard for many months and did not sleep well. When I saw my mother walk the runway, I couldn’t help it. I cried. My collection tries to represent many different things: plus size guys; the colonization of Peru and the Caribbean, where my parents are from; subversion in a certain way. Getting support for things like this is really touching and makes me feel like people are trying to change the meaning of fashion.
The collection featured a lot of textiles and used colors in a surreal, almost cartoonish way. At the same time, their clothes have a serious mission: fashion should also be for men and non-binary people of all sizes.
The plus size community is big. We connect with each other and really want to see ourselves as the norm, which means clothes designed for us are sold in stores and featured in magazines. As a designer, I’m terrified of trying to change the status quo of fashion in terms of clothing sizes. But the audience of the future already exists now.
People tend to think of clothing sizes and body positivity as women’s issues, but men also struggle with body image.
Being a plus size guy, I always felt that when I go to the store, I won’t find anything in my size. Or if I find something that’s not exactly what I want. A trendy take on what a man should look like is a toned abs like a washboard. Or maybe, just maybe, there is also a “daddy’s body.” The womenswear market is booming with plus size models.
Do you feel like things are starting to change?
Now more people understand this. The buyers I spoke to are very satisfied and excited about the opportunity to work with large sizes.
Along with plus size male models, you often feature non-binary people in your looks. Tell us about your approach to casting.
I found one of my models while riding the subway. The guy I was on a date with, but we stopped talking. I also browse Instagram for plus size guys. We are starting to see more plus size people in agencies. Oh, and I also watch dating apps.
Swiping right into Tinder seems like a completely original casting method.
Absolutely. I send messages to the guys on the apps and say, “Hi, I’m a designer and I’m making this collection.” And then I give them my Instagram to show them my work. Actually, it’s a pretty good way to see multiple photos of someone.
Speaking of models, you were a model in your graduate program. You are walking, literally.
I’ve always thought that if you’re a designer, it’s strange if you don’t use your own stuff. I want to represent myself in my work. My mother is from Granada and Santa Lucia and my father is from Peru. Many of the images and colors of the clothes are taken from street signs, music flyers and the like from Peru. I am also inspired by psychedelic things like cartoons and manga. I have always been obsessed with color. I’m just a very colorful person.