Several countries around the world are celebrating PRIDE and LGBTQ+ rights, giving a microphone to minority communities who are just as deserving of love and acceptance as any other.
In honour of this momentous month, we spoke exclusively with Aria Garcia, a transgender designer and mental health advocate who is using her platform to change the industry for the better.
“Fashion is such an empowering form of self-expression because it allows you to say everything without saying anything,” Aria, founder and creative director of AREGA, shares, acknowledging that there are both many positives and yet a “dark side” to fashion.
Now more than ever, in the age of social media, Aria feels inspired to use her platform to help men and women feel confident, beautiful, and free in the clothes they choose to wear.
She adds, “We must look within ourselves to be authentic to who we are and be comfortable within our skin.”
Aria’s journey as a designer has seen her achieving great feats - from creating custom pieces for two Harper’s Bazaar covers, and showcasing her pieces in the pages of GLAMOUR, Cosmopolitan, and Vogue, Aria is undoubtedly a name to know.
Read on for more on her insight on how fashion and wellness intersect, how COVID-19 is changing the industry, and why she encourages all women to look inward instead of outward to feel confident and beautiful.
What inspired you to pursue a career in fashion?
Everything in my life has always led and inspired me in the direction of fashion. The ability to create and make something out of nothing is so fulfilling.
A career in fashion was my destiny and exactly where I belong. I'm grateful and blessed for this gift and will continue to create and leave a legacy of timeless pieces.
Why is fashion such an empowering form of self-expression?
Fashion is such an empowering form of self-expression because it allows you to say everything without saying anything.
Creating involves a synergy of emotions. Fashion has the ability to dictate how you feel and choose to express your authentic self. allowing you to set the mood, vibe, and energy.
What are some challenges you have faced as a minority designer, and how did you overcome them?
As a minority, I recognise the challenges we face. However, my career as a fashion designer has not been impacted by me being a minority.
I feel life itself is a journey that presents challenges and what’s life without challenges? It wouldn’t be life. Life without challenges is death.
What are some trends you're forecasting for 2021?
Post COVID-19, I see fashion evolving where designers become even more creative and employ the use of wipeable fabrics and textiles, as well as eco-friendly and sustainable textiles.
How have you adapted your business amid the COVID-19 pandemic?
I'm being a lot more proactive about how I develop the future of my brand and what I create during this era.
I'm looking more for fabrics and textiles that can be easily disinfected and wipeable.
How does fashion have an impact on our mental health and the way we feel about ourselves?
Fashion impacts our mental health because it can evoke so many emotions that dictate how we feel.
Thanks to social media, fashion is everyone and everywhere. Fashion brings joy, hope and happiness to so many across the globe.
I'm thankful that we have fashion as a source that supports the emotions that stimulate good mental health.
However, because of society’s standards as to what fashion should be, there is a dark side to fashion, so we must look within ourselves to be authentic to who we are and be comfortable within our skin and F**k society’s standards as to what fashion should be because we have what Fashion’s in storage.
As a designer, what's your greatest purpose?
My purpose as a designer is to build a heritage brand that makes a woman feel fearless by embracing themselves unapologetically. I want every client to feel like they have the ultimate experience when wearing one of my pieces.
What do you find inspiration in?
I find inspiration in life itself. The ability to create and give life to a magical masterpiece out of nothing inspires me. Energy is also a very important part of my creative process.
With that being said, I find inspiration in pain and joy. Life is all about perspective and different aspects of my life inspire me to create different elements of fashion.
You're a strong advocate for diversity in the industry. What does it mean to you to have this responsibility?
Having this responsibility is something I take seriously, and I feel honored to be able to demonstrate through my designs and brand how diversity adds to the vibrancy of fashion and life.