Designer Ivan Sanchez brings his Mexican heritage to his Miami-based brand Etnos


Artistic Director of Etnos Fashion, Mexican designer based in Miami.

Why I love him: The freedom that exists in his designs. From the fabric to the cuts to the runway presentation, his work is the opposite of expected, which is freeing.
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Photo by Ivan Sanchez

When was the first time you noticed that fashion was something someone created rather than just something you bought and put on?

When I was a kid, my grandmother had an old sewing machine and I used to hang out there watching her and my mother work. My mother also knits, which she is teaching me now, so I was able to see how she would create garments at a very young age.

What made you want to pursue design vocationally as opposed to it just being a hobby?

I’ve worked in fashion for over 20 years; from being a model, training models, working as a dresser, backstage coordinator to producing and directing entire shows and coordinating in fashion weeks. I became a costume designer without any proper training but secretly wanted to be a fashion designer. Five years ago I finally decided to go enroll in a proper program and got my BFA in fashion design.

With working in so many facets of the industry, how has all of that prepared you for what you’re doing now?

I feel like everything I’ve done has in some way trained me as a designer. I worked in a museum in Mexico. As I said, I produced and directed many fashion shows and collaborated in fashion weeks, worked as a producer and costume designer for performing arts. I used to work in the production of operas and plays for years. And then formally I have a BFA in Fashion and Apparel Design from the Miami International University of Art & Design.

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Photo by Ivan Sanchez

When you begin designing new garments, what is the starting point for you?

It always changes. It could start with materials I discover and that become the central aspect of the piece or collection or it begins with an image, a drawing or even an idea that sometimes I cannot even draw.


Designer Ivan Sanchez – Photo by Criss Gomez

There’s a lot of competition out there. How do you separate yourself from the pack?

I embrace the pack. Great art, and by definition great design, never happens in isolation, and so I consider myself a responsive designer. I create within and for a context. I know that whenever I have an idea, someone else had it before and/or has been doing it for a long time before me. I respond to history, social phenomena, places, people, architecture and so on, my work is always the result of a lot of investigation. I would like to think of my work as harmonically integrated within its time. When you talk about design, competition should be understood as a think-tank workshop. Far from making me feel insecure, peer pressure always feeds my work.

From season to season, how do you keep yourself from burning out?

Easy, I don’t go by seasons. I design capsule type of collections. The Etnos man doesn’t follow seasons, he is in constant movement so he finds himself in diverse contexts all the time and has to respond to them without losing his own sense of style.

When it comes to the creative process, I develop an idea until I am done with it, for as many pieces as it requires to be accomplished and then I let it go. Usually by the time I am finishing a project I already have new ideas that come in response to it, often from being unsatisfied with the outcome, some other times from the feedback I get from clients or other people.

The internet has changed the fashion industry in numerous ways. How have you utilized it and social media to get your work and your brand to a larger audience?

It is my main channel of exposure. I am also a photographer so internet helps me to present all the facets of my work as a creative person on top of my menswear label. I am in the works of launching an online store so I guess internet will be an obvious key player for my future.

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Photo by Ivan Sanchez

Fashion blogs and style bloggers are front row at Fashion Week, something that didn’t happen ten years ago. Ten years from now, what do you hope the fashion industry looks like/is headed?

I believe brands are not going to produce by seasons, it doesn’t make sense anymore; it is part of being global. Digital media are probably going to be the best and maybe the only option as we are going or should go as paperless as possible. I also believe that somehow the figure of the blogger will disappear. Now anyone calls themselves an influencer which is a clear over-saturation of the field. My guess is that the next big thing will be about creating new media, one with a fresh proposal based on time use.

What was it like the first time you saw someone wearing your designs in real life?

Scary. It brought a sense of responsibility that was not familiar to me before. It felt great on one side but on the other I realized I was on the spot. Men are tough clients. They are very unforgiving when it comes to what they wear. Something in between a duel and a dialogue. Trust is the highest value at stake for me so if someone trusts me to wear my designs I better be ready to keep up to it.

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My aesthetic in five words: Sophisticated. Elegant. Relaxed. Comfortable. Smart.
My client is… A man that is confident, open minded, creative, educated, socially responsible and enjoys both pleasure and risk. Someone that likes fashion for sure..
My dream client is…Michael Fassbender, Ricky Martin, Justin Trudeau, Edgar Ramirez. Anyone with the confidence to wear my clothes make me proud and excited.

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