Interview with Ethical Designer Maria Del Villar from Del Villar - Abbie James

Interview with Ethical Designer Maria Del Villar from Del Villar

Interview with Ethical Designer Maria Del Villar from Del Villar

We thought it was about time we interview Maria Del Villar. The founder and designer behind one of our most popular brands, Del Villar. From the moment the Abbie James boutique partnered with Del Villar our customers have had a love affair with her designs and fabric choices, now the long-awaited insight to what makes her tick is finally here. 

We would all love to know more about the woman who is behind this intentional brand. What has been the journey so far that brought you to Del Villar?

Since I was a teenager I have made clothes for myself, friends and family. I was always inspired by rock & roll musicians and what they wore. Music books were my kind of fashion magazine. I decided to study fashion design in Buenos Aires, Argentina (my home country) and in Barcelona. I loved studying and having the time and space to explore and be creative. After university, I decided to go travelling. I thought I would take a break, but I would always find new crafts to learn wherever I was. I studied silversmithing during my travels in India so I started to make jewellery as well.

Del Villar started after realising I was finally grounded in Australia. I was excited by the idea of having a platform to share my creations, collaborations and other projects. Del Villar will always carry a bit of my culture with it and that makes it special to me.

Your Brilloso Dress and Volcanico Pants have been best sellers in the Abbie James boutique. People just love the colour. What role does colour play in your life?

The Jade colour in the Brilloso Dress and Volcanico Pants has been stuck in my mind since I bought an amazing piece of fabric in that same colour in a little shop in India a long time ago. I knew that I wanted to make something in that colour. I love how people stand out when wearing block colours and always have a few bold colour pieces in my wardrobe.  It makes me feel part of an Almodovar movie or connected to Marc Bolan and Ziggy Stardust, my superheroes.

What is your design process when you start a new collection?

I start the process with a question: What would I like to wear and why? I usually have a concept and colour palette in mind, it could be from a piece of artwork, a photograph or a movie. I also look for references in shapes and silhouettes. I have many vintage clothes from my mother and grandmother. These have always been inspiring.

Can you take us through an average day in the life of Maria Del Villar?

I try to get up early, I can see the sunrise from my bed which helps a lot. I brew some chai at home and go for a morning activity before work. My options usually are exercise, going for a beach walk or a surf. After that, I will work till the evening, get some friends over for dinner or just chill with a book or a movie. 

It is obvious to see that your brand is value-driven. What are the core values you run your business on?

Our mission is to empower women and create a positive impact on the planet by designing timeless garments of lasting quality responsibly.

We create timeless designs in small runs to minimise waste because we believe slow fashion is a meaningful way to diminish our environmental impact and bolster our positive impact. We also choose to use natural materials and conscientious production techniques to ensure our garments remain in your regular rotation into the distant future. All our clothes are made in a very small female-owned and run factory in Indonesia. Finally, every sale is helping to employ women, educate children, and plant trees to help regenerate damaged ecosystems. We take time to make conscientious choices in our business operations but we know there is always more we can do and we are dedicated to further improving our impact over time.

There has been a lot of focus lately on the fashion industry and its impact on global warming. Where do you think the industry is heading? 

The fashion industry is quite intense on our planet and its people. I think it is amazing nowadays there are a lot of businesses trying so hard to offset their impact. They are aware of which materials they use and where they come from and more importantly, avoid overproduction. Awareness is always the first step to positive change and I think that customers have become increasingly aware of how to purchase more conscientiously. Brands and businesses that are aware of this also guide them to reform practices to become more sustainable and less harmful on the planet. Social and human rights are also very important aspects to take into account. That is why I personally love brands that know their workers and make sure they have good working conditions and that their rights are met.

You live in Byron Bay. How does living in this beautiful place influence you and your brand?

What I most like about Byron Bay which I think influences me a lot is that it is populated by creative humans from very different parts of the world. The diversity in culture, languages, and style is amazing and still, it is a wonderful community as a whole.

People may not know about Del Villa's charity. What organisations do you support and can you give us some insight into why you have chosen them?

Planting trees is one of the most impactful ways to address climate change and offset the impact of creating our garments. Trees purify water, stabilise and regenerate ecosystems, and sequester carbon from the atmosphere. Working with our tree planting partner, Greenfleet, every Del Villar garment funds native biodiverse forest projects in Australia. Furthermore, every garment empowers women and children in Bali by funding employment and education opportunities. Working with local social enterprise Bali Life, we are trying to give back and uplift the women of Bali where our garments are made.

What book has been a game-changer in your life and why?

The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz made me aware of self-limiting beliefs and that we are constantly creating our own reality.

The Monk that sold his Ferrari by Robin Sharma "...goals and dreams for the future are essential elements in every truly successful life. Hope for what will appear in your future is what gets you out of bed in the morning and what keeps you inspired through your days. Goals energize your life. My point is simply this: never put off happiness for the sake of achievement. Never put off the things that are important for your well-being and satisfaction to a later time. Today is the day to live fully, not when you win the lottery or when you retire. Never put off living!" - Robin Sharma

What is something most people don't know about you? 

I love to boogie / I love reading romantic novels.

Connect with Maria through her Instagram @delvillar_Shop the Abbie James curation of Del Villar here