Mango can translate major trends into its own language
Justicia Ruano is the Womenswear Design Director of globally renowned clothing brand Mango—a Mediterranean label known for its cool prints and colours. In an interview with Fibre2Fashion, the designer talks about the aesthetic of its collection and takes through the designing process of its elegant pieces.
Fibre2Fashion: What attracted you towards the fashion industry and how would you narrate your journey?
Since I was a little girl, my passion has been to make clothes. When I was 11 years old, I was already training in sewing and pattern making. From then on, fashion has been my passion and devotion. Since then, I have known that this is what I want to dedicate myself to.
Being from Granada, at the age of 18 I had to go to study fashion in Barcelona, where the best schools were. I studied there. I spent three years at the Escuela de Artes Técnicas de la Moda, which is now called ESDI. As soon as I finished studying, I found a job. I started working in a small commercial company called System Action. After that, when I was 26, I joined Mango as a designer and a year later I was appointed design director of the women’s line.
F2F: How long have you been serving the brand Mango and how would you illustrate the experience so far?
I have seen the brand change. When I joined Mango in the 1990s and 2000s, Mango was undergoing a process of internationalisation that has led it to be present in 110 markets, but many of its current competitors had not yet expanded into Spain.
Today in the fashion industry, the customer plays a very important role in the process of designing and creating collections, and we are also working, taking into account the waste and the footprint that fashion leaves behind. In the past, this was not as important as it is today. Now we are very aware of sustainability, i.e., we try to make garments that are close to our customers, we are committed to transparency, we try not to leave any waste, we put the customer at the centre, etc.
F2F: How would you define the aesthetics of Mango’s collection?
Mango is a Mediterranean brand, which leads us to feel attracted to a specific type of garments with lots of colour, where prints are the protagonists. Working in a much more contemporary and current vision, which is what the 21st century demands, along with influences of the Nordic woman—cooler—and American—more practical.
F2F: What is the design process at Mango before launching a collection?
The design process at Mango begins with an analysis of what the last collection was like. Where it worked best, in which channels, when, who the garments were aimed at, whether we got it right or not. After that we make a summary and include the pieces that we see that the consumer is asking for in the different markets where we work.
Once we have that, which is almost a numerical structure, the creative team starts to manage a trends panel. At Mango, we have a team that travels all over the world to find out about the latest trends, the latest materials and the latest prints. This is done in order to be totally up to date. We then put it all together and organise a trend exposition to define where the collection must go. Through these panels we start the beginning of the collection and the definition of the type of design.
All of this comes together with a great transversal work structure that is created by the women management team to make sure that the collection does not lose its presence and that it is not a question of individual garments. That the collection tells a story. That it speaks of universes in which we imagine the Mango woman and on which we reflect on how to dress her from head to toe.
F2F: Where do you find your inspiration for such an elegant and chic style collection? Do you follow any trend reports for designing Mango’s collections?
The first question we always ask ourselves is whether we personally like it. That is the most important thing for us. To be sure of what we do and that we like it. We must question ourselves. Because we are all potential customers of Mango. We have to question ourselves if we would buy it.
We find inspiration through knowledge. For me it’s very important to be informed about everything that happens in Mango. What’s happening at our point of sale, what’s happening at our competitors’ point of sale, and what’s selling at international fabric and print fairs. It is also important to know what is happening on social networks. This helps to inspire us and also to detect new customers.
F2F: Given the abundance of fashion brands on the market, what makes Mango brand and its collections stand out?
Mango bases its business model on a unique fashion proposal, focused on translating major trends into its own language, giving rise to two major collections a year that are expanded with capsules every two weeks to constantly renew the offer. Mango creates a global and coherent collection based on moments and occasions.
The company is very clear about its DNA and what makes it different: its own design proposal. Thanks to a great creative team, with extensive and recognised experience, Mango can translate major trends into its own language to bring them closer to customers. Likewise, its value proposition lies precisely in its ability to offer collections with an excellent quality-price ratio.
F2F: What sustainable practices have been adopted by the brand?
Mango understands sustainability as a path that the fashion industry must follow in search of a fairer society and the reduction of its impact on the environment, whether environmental or social.
In terms of product, Mango recognises three key points to work towards a more sustainable collection: design with eco-design criteria, prioritisation of more sustainable materials and production processes with less environmental impact. Mango, for example, makes its commitment to sustainable fashion visible through the committed denomination, which includes all Mango articles with a lower environmental impact. Over the last few years, the company has made great efforts to increase the number of garments with sustainable characteristics, which in 2021 already accounted for 80 per cent of total production, well above the 45 per cent of 2020.
Beyond the product, it is essential to work to ensure traceability and transparency in the value chain. In 2021, Mango was the first major company in the Spanish fashion sector to publish a list of its factories, and this year the company has set itself the goal of also publishing a list of tier 3 factories, related to suppliers of materials such as fabrics and trimmings.
F2F: Would you like to give any style tips or wardrobe essentials advice for our readers?
After the pandemic and the global crisis, we are currently experiencing, I would say: colour and illusion. It is important that the clothes breathe that. I think that’s what we need. It’s what comes from inside us after these hard years we are going through.