Argentinian designer Maria A. Zolezzi is challenging the norms of fashion and textile production. After working a number of years in Paris and Milan in distribution and brand development for labels such as Isabel Marant and Sonia Rykiel, she returned to Buenos Aires to pursue Maydi, a line of hand-knit garments utilizing natural and organic materials. We talked with her about her process and the future of sustainable fashion in Argentina.
What led you to want to manufacture ethically-sourced fashion? When I returned to Buenos Aires after living more than 12 years in Paris and working in the fashion industry I thought: why not make something different? I wondered, what goods do we have in our country? Automatically I thought “wool,” of course. Argentina is one of the main exporters of wool in the world. In an industrialized and global world, I wanted to do something revaluing traditional craft techniques, such as hand-weaving, crochet techniques, and loom using raw material of our country, and so I started working.
Where do you source your materials, and what kinds of connections have you built with your suppliers? One of my suppliers, Ultimate Merino from Ovis XXI, is in Patagonia, which I use almost exclusively for my collection. The rest of the wool, such as merino hand-spun, also comes from Argentina.
Describe your creative process: First of all, I choose the raw materials that I use – mainly organic merino, merino wool that is spun by hand using wooden spinning wheels, mohair, and alpaca – although sometimes it is not easy to get everything into Argentina. For that reason – for the finesse and quality – I use Ultimate Merino (organic), which is comparable to alpaca or cashmere.
Generally after a trip my mind is full of plenty of ideas. For my first collection I found the inspiration from Indian civilization. After researching on the internet and opening my closet I start designing.
Once I have clear ideas I transmit them to the artisans who work on my project for the realization of each garment. There is also a hand-made process for the colors; for the winter collection I used natural dyes like cochineal and native plants to obtain 100% natural colors.
The process of creating each garment is completely done by hand from beginning to end.
What is the movement towards sustainability like in Argentina? In terms of fashion and design, some emerging designers are starting to realize the importance of the value chain, step by step. Otherwise, we also need governmental, country-wide support in all areas.
Her favorite hotel:La Alondra Casa de Huéspedes, Argentina Her drink: Champagne Ruinart Her signature scent: Bouillon de Byredo Her playlist: Electro punk (Tristesse Contemporaine, Glass Candy, and others) Her best advice: Be yourself.