John Herrera SS18
John Herrera has been on our radar since his eponymous brand first launched in London three years ago. Known for his innovative work with textiles and dye sublimation techniques, the Philippine-born designer won the prestigious Britain’s Top Designer in 2017.
His Autumn/Winter 2017 collection ‘Agila’ drew inspiration from the majestic Philippine eagle; a warrior woman with a strikingly defined silhouette in earthy, animalistic tones of brown and sepia. Spring/Summer 2018’s ‘Armada’ followed with his characteristic strong shapes and innovative fabric manipulation, confidently empowered through sharp tailoring and symmetry in construction.
“I have always been interested in clothes. I remember making clothes for my sister’s dolls when I was a kid, later moving on to reworking old clothes for myself.” John has never been afraid to stand out; he wanted to “study the way clothes affect a person and the people around them”
“I only make clothes to please myself.” Individuality in the creative side of fashion is paramount for this designer. “The most rewarding aspect is definitely people’s appreciation of one’s work. So many talented artists rarely get recognition in their lifetime and I’m glad other people’s reactions to my work have been favourable.”
John’s designs are driven by his Filipino roots, using traditional motifs alongside textile manipulation and digital dye sublimation. He has worked in collaboration with Epson to print original artwork onto various fabrics, using only very precise amounts of material necessary for garment construction to minimise wastage. “They were looking for their next ambassador and I think they interviewed a couple of designers. Somehow I was the lucky one who got the job.”
Previous collections from John Herrera have explored everything, from Spanish colonial heritage, to the Philippine eagle, and bioluminescence. “I simply look to my home country for inspiration. I was raised in country of contrasts and that has always fascinated me. Art and Poverty have always assaulted my artistic senses, and I can’t wait to share more with the world of what I have seen growing up in Manila.”
Spring/Summer 2018’s ‘Armada’ saw the label’s signature powerful proportions in feminine pieces, with references to antique cartography and elements of 16th century fashion. These found maps were digitally rendered onto textiles of various weights and opacities, from stiff fabrics to soft chiffons, juxtaposed with the distinctive silhouette of dramatic capes and cloaks and exaggerated ruffs in rich ruby reds. “I started with the accidental discovery of the Philippine islands by the Spanish Armada. En route to the spice islands (Moluccas) they landed in 1521, and by 1529 the first world map by Diogo Ribiero that showed ‘Las Islas Filipinas’ was released. I am part Spanish, so researching the collection was like going back to my family’s roots as well. My Filipino-Spanish blood is contrasting in itself considering what my country has been through at the hands of the Spanish – the oppressor and the oppressed.”
John loves to play with textiles, using unique innovation to create his artistic vision in unconventional prints and textures. “I like going with where my interests take me. I start with the touch then fly off the handle from there. Designing prints I have always wanted to do since fashion school. Fabric manipulation has always been an integral part of my design process. Its like origami; fabrics can be folded as much as draped.”
“When fused with CAD and other design softwares, one can make intelligent patterns that maximise fabric length and width from the layout process of production. hence minimising waste.”
What’s next for this talented young designer? “More collaborations!” There is already a ready-to-wear line with the Asian company Zalora that was released at the end of 2017, as well as more exciting new projects in London. He sees the benefit in learning from others, as well as sharing his knowledge and vision.
By Lucie Dhog
Agila images shot for The Glass Pineapple by Luis Calow
Armada images shot for The Glass Pineapple by Kerry Curl