A dress is not just a piece of clothing that you hang in your closet. As children, when we were first introduced to fairy tales, how convenient was it for us to somnambulistically envisage what our lives would’ve been like, similar to those of the princes’ and princesses you see in the books, living in enchanting citadels. That is exactly what John Herrera’s dress will do to you. Be it in any form, his dresses are meant to-not only make you feel majestic, but powerful. And when you walk in his designs, you will end up making heads turn.
Having established his clothing line in London, ‘Herrera’ in 2008, where a wide range of special-occasion and couture evening wear caters to both; the male and the female audience, John Herrera is definitely one such designer that everybody should be on the lookout for. An award-winning designer with several accolades under his belt, Herrera is touted to be the only Filipino so far to have won Britain’s Top Designer Award. This prolific designer crafts each creation to perfection, one that any bride would be enraptured to wear.
What events in your life helped you choose fashion designing as a career?
John: I’ve always designed in some capacity, however small. At six I made a dress for my sister’s Barbie doll inspired by a picture I saw of Audrey Hepburn. By high school I was making a lot of my clothes to express myself and feel unique. I was also sketching some of my classmates and teachers’ gowns around prom time. It seemed almost inevitable for me to make a career of it.
What according to you is your favourite part of being a fashion designer? How would you define your idea of fashion?
John: Aside from the gratification I get in the journey of couture creation, from the process to the final product, it is in seeing how people appreciate the work. Fashion for me is a craft. A discipline.
Who or What are your inspirations for creating your designs?
John: I get a lot of my inspirations from history: Marie Antoinette, Bette Davis and The Spanish Armada are some of them.
In your opinion, what are the most critical aspects of the fashion industry?
John: Balancing creativity and commerce seems to be the most crucial to any design business. One simply cannot exist without the other. This aspect should come after honing one’s craft, identifying the market and targeting said market through publicity and social media. Defining what the brand is and what it is not comes next. For, if this is not clearly defined early on, one risks the mistake of confusing the market, which can be detrimental to the business.
Can you describe to us the lessons you inculcated during your internship as a fashion designer?
John: I interned with three amazing designers. The first taught me all about the fashion world at large, opened my eyes to the possibilities of carving a niche for myself in the fashion business. The second taught me the technical skills necessary to make clothes, from pattern drafting to running a fashion business. The last, taught me about the art of haute couture, from the fine craftsmanship made by one’s hand to creating iconic fashion images. Even living a well curated life surrounded by art and artistic people was a huge part of my training with him. I have been so blessed to have had the best mentors one could ever hope for. I cherish all of them with all my heart.
What are your favourite trends in fashion, past or present?
John: What an interesting question! As a designer, my favourites were: John Galliano’s Origami, Vivienne Westwood’s corsetry, Alexander McQueen’s deconstruction, to name a few.
According to you, what are some of the ethics that matter to people involved in fashion?
John: Professionalism is of highest priority, every time. Some enter the industry thinking the life of a designer is all glamorous and fancy, only to find out that the 90 percent of designing and making the clothes was spent indoors, in an all-white workroom, cutting and stitching, until the wee hours of the morning. Always treat your clients like royalty. Value their time as much as your staff. Treat everyone with respect and you will definitely earn theirs.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
John: social media is a friend and a helpful tool to any starting and established brands to stay relevant today. Chanel has the most Instagram following of any fashion house in the world and it is not lost on me that the people behind the brand are masters at PR via social media as well.
How do you want both; men and women to feel when they wear your clothes?
John: I want men and women to feel empowered when they wear my clothes because that is how my designs make me feel. I only travel in my trench coats, not only because they are comfortable but they make me feel cool. Like fashion was in my DNA and I am always impeccably dressed. I love getting stopped at airports by people asking me where I got my coats and this flatters me a lot and strokes my design ego.
In your words, why is sustainability important in fashion?
John: Sustainability in fashion is not only important, it is absolutely necessary. My design business, which I closed during the pandemic, made me realise a lot of things, the most important of which is Sustainability. That is why as I reopen my business in London, I have decided to make it made-to-order, with tiny capsule collections spread out within the months, which doesn’t follow the seasonal fashion calendar. This way we keep our clients happy and with very little waste. I shall keep you posted for all our haute couture and prêt-à-porter capsule collections which will all be available at our website, johnherrera.co.uk.
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