‘I’m wearing Manwel Dimech’

‘A good quality product requires capital to start off… Many designers juggle full-time jobs while working on their collection to make ends meet’

Ritienne Zammit’s prints feature Manwel Dimech and national poet Dun Karm – hardly ideological bedfellows but it’s only fashion…
Ritienne Zammit’s prints feature Manwel Dimech and national poet Dun Karm – hardly ideological bedfellows but it’s only fashion…

Malta’s budding fashion industry could well be on its way to mature into something of a recognizable field. Malta Fashion Week saw the crème de la crème of the Maltese fashion scene come out in full force, but the lingering question is what industry – if any – is reaping the fruits of the local designers.

“Although given the small size of the country, a full-blown, internationally trend-setting industry may be difficult to create, the industry is definitely growing,” fashion blogging trio The Clouded Revolution say about Malta Fashion Week and how new designers are gaining more recognition.

The fashion presence is greater than it was two years ago, says blogger Lara Boffa (It’s Lara Marie, and former Boffism blogger) with more people involved and playing a role, “compared to the few ‘rare birds’ we had before, although it’s very hard to make a living from it only, if you’re based solely in Malta.”

“Demand has increased considerably, maybe for some designers more than others. I’ve lost count of the number of Charles and Ron ‘Carlton’ clutches, Sef Farrugia bowties and Marco Parascandalo ‘Skandlu’ t-shirts I’ve seen lately.”

But TCR say that a large number of designers have now managed to create wearable pieces that are also being sold in local stores, such as Saz Mifsud, Carla Grima, Sef Farrugia and Marco Parascandolo. 

“Designers like Luke Azzopardi also have a constant clientele for their bespoke pieces,” they say.

“Farrugia and Parascandolo are two of the designers whose status changed considerably following their exposure at the Malta Fashion Week,” Boffa adds.

“I very much remember Sef Farrugia’s pieces exhibited in 2012, and Marco Parascandalo, who graduated from having a slot in the New Designers Show in 2014 to a solo show in 2015. They are widely known and their designs are immediately recognizable now.”

Parascandolo’s show were one of the most striking this year, with his focus on denim pieces and use of white as a main colour for his collection, Boffa says, adding Ritienne Zammit’s collection as having had “everyone with their jaws on the floor.”

“Zammit has been lauded all over the blogosphere so she is bound to get even more attention in the coming months. I sincerely hope she does actually. I think her show was brilliant, not just because of the concept, but also because of the way she managed to please people who have very different tastes.”

Blogger Caroline Paris (Caroline’s Fashion Styling) says that Gaetano is one of the most promising designers with his edgy and elegantly sophisticated collection. “Gaetano had a strong model with all the right elements of creativity, tailoring know-how and a truly sellable product. If he keeps on thinking and creating along those same lines, I’m sure he will do very well.”

TCR add that Margo de Vidal’s collection was even more complete than last year’s collection with its 1970s bohemian vibe, interesting prints, textures and very wearable shapes.

“Malta Fashion Week offers locations that might otherwise be unaffordable or out of the question for a designer alone, for example the Grandmaster’s Palace,” they say, even though shows outside the ‘fashion week’ umbrella can also avoid being overshadowed by other events.

“One of the ways designers could boost their profiles is through funds from both the public and private sectors. A good quality product requires a good capital to start off with. Many designers juggle full-time jobs while also working on their collection so as to try and make ends meet,” TCR said.

However, Paris says the Maltese are still afraid of buying local. She agrees with helping designers with sponsorships and funds, but it’s markets like the one at Spitalfields in London, noted for its embrace of new designers and concepts, that can attract those with their eyes peeled for the latest fashion trends.

Boffa adds that although it’s difficult to top Malta Fashion Week for exposure locally, social media should be considered a tool by designers to become better known.

“Don’t disappear from the internet after your show is over. Keep us engaged and we’ll keep looking out for you,” is her advice.