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Watching their footprints

Spanish label Adolfo Dominguez opens a store in the Capital. Creative director Tiziana Dominguez speaks to SHALINI SHAH about the challenges and India plans

KIN AND ABLE Tiziana Dominguez with father Adolfo Dominguez

At 25, Tiziana Dominguez comes with a serenity few her age are likely to have or exhibit. At the launch of the Adolfo Dominguez store at Ambience Mall in Vasant Kunj recently, Tiziana dressed in a black evening gown from the brand, and wearing earrings from its jewellery line, soon after entering gently asks a store guy to turn the air-conditioning down.

This done, and pleasantries with a few guests later, Tiziana settles down for an interview, until led away by an anxious, time-conscious publicist to meet the Ambassador.

Founded in 1973 after her father Adolfo Dominguez took over the family tailoring shop in Trives, Spain, in 1973, the brand is now a clothing giant with more than 650 stores spread across 37 countries. Lines include the Adolfo Dominguez Man and Woman lines, AD+, the casual U line, e.Collection (a basics line), besides the home, pets and jewellery lines.

Tiziana, besides being the brand's creative director, heads corporate social responsibility at the firm. CSR, particularly, is a thrust area at Adolfo Dominguez. Last year, in association with PETA, the company published its Animal Welfare Policy. As part of this, fur has been banned, while the use of leather has been restricted to footwear and bags.

In leather too, while cow hide is permitted, exotic skins are not — which means handbags here that look like they're made of snakeskin or crocodile leather are, in fact, cow leather embossed with snakeskin print.

The Adolfo Dominguez Store in New Delhi, the first in the country, is spread across two floors. More designer prêt than high-street, price-points are higher than that of high-street compatriots like Zara and Mango. This year will see three stores in Mumbai and New Delhi. As Tiziana informs, “We're shooting for a controlled expansion… we really want to control the brand, control the stores, so they have the right location and the right look.”

Tough call

With a far-flung retail presence that also brings with it a wide production net, isn't controlling a philosophy difficult?

“It's much more challenging than having a small production with a few suppliers. It's difficult. It's definitely challenging because you have to change the logistics of how the design department operates, the materials they're allowed to use, and that there's always a certain difficulty with changing anything, especially how a company operates — people like to do things their way, they like to have freedom to do things their way,” Tiziana says.

“My dad has really believed in, talked on and done many things within the company to make sure our impact on animals and environment and society is reduced. So our employees are pretty used to that. They understand it's the core value of the company so they actually support a lot of things. For example, a lot of our clients like that we have synthetic alternatives to leather. For example, this professor came up to my dad after a conference and said ‘You know, I love your range but I cannot find belts that imitate leather but are not leather. ‘Why don't you use them?' and my dad said, ‘Sure!' We get a lot of that. We propose, but our clients and our stakeholders also propose back to us. It's symbiotic.”

After studying Fine Art in the U.K., Tiziana joined Middlebury College in Vermont, U.S., to specialise in Environmental Economics. While her position at Adolfo Dominguez has been official since two years now, she says she's been around forever. Since she was 15 till now, Tiziana has designed the U line, worked as a shop assistant, modelled for the AD and U lines... “I did so many jobs in the company, because you need to know it inside out. It's a very complex company.”

Is there a point where her design aesthetics and that of her illustrious father diverge?

“I would say I add a view, my own artistic perspective. What's good is that, because I've grown up with our style and I was taught what is beautiful by my parents, we both are after something beautiful, right! I have a slightly more expansive vision of what is beautiful, but he has great confidence in me as a designer, as a painter, which I find very flattering. So there's no difficulty there,” she says, adding as an afterthought, “Maybe other difficulties, but not that one!”

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