Although at first she tried to rebel against the call of genetics, Hortensia Maeso ended up surrendering to the evidence that where she felt most comfortable was between fabrics and sketches. At present the brand that bears his name does not stop growing and diversifying, on the very strong basis that fashion only has one way: to be sustainable.
They say that the greyhound comes from caste. How has your mother being a dressmaker / designer influenced you to give yourself body and soul to your profession?
In principle it was not an advantage because as a young girl it was something that caused me to reject. It is something typical in rebellious adolescents, right? It seems that the last thing you want to dedicate yourself to is your parents’ profession; Besides, I always saw my mother suffering the stress of the delivery moment.
However, years later and already with my three daughters, I discovered what was in my veins and my dedication was totally passionate, I also felt that it was something genetic, that I had sucked it since I was little and designing was very easy … Between fabrics, sketches and patterns I felt like a fish in water.
When does the click occur and you put aside your studies of Technical Engineering in Chemistry and become Hortensia Maeso, a fashion designer?
I did not abandon my Chemistry studies, I was even working in a laboratory when I finished. It was with my third daughter that I decided to quit my job and dedicate myself completely to them for a while.
When they were already in kindergarten and school at three, I discovered my true vocation for fashion and made the decision to pursue a career in Fashion Design, which was originally a hobby .
When I was about to graduate, when I was going to complete my final degree project, my life took a 180 degree turn on a personal level and I could not continue my studies. I had to rejoin the workforce immediately, but fate led me to start my professional career in the textile sector, when I met Enrique Rubio , manager of Cuadernos Rubio.
Your stage in Rubio Kids, fundamental, right?
True, Rubio Kids was my first fashion company. It was born as a result of my final degree project for Cuadernos Rubio. Enrique Rubio wanted to diversify the firm with some other product related to childhood and together, 50% partners, we gave life to the Rubio Kids by Hortensia Maeso brand .
For me, at that very difficult time, it was a great opportunity to find the support that I received from Enrique Rubio, later my husband, to carry out this project: I will always recognize this.
Your creations are, without a doubt, very differentiated. They depart from the trite, there really is a Hortensia Maeso stamp How is this originality achieved?
It is certainly achieved by being authentic, not copying others and letting your own ideas flow. Over the years it has become more clear to me that the brands that are successful and last over time are those that have their own personality and identity.
Being special and different, sooner or later your audience will find you and with it the business path to follow. But, above all, you get that stamp that identifies you, which for a designer is to achieve professional fulfillment.
Cottons, linens, silks, lace, muslin, tulle pass through your hands… What do your hands tell you? What are your favorite fabrics?
I could not design without direct contact with the fabrics, they speak to me and tell me by touch what I can do with them. I design most of the time with the moulage technique , especially when I find a new fabric with a texture that envelops me in a sea of deep feelings. The fabrics that I like the most are tulles, silks and new generation technical fabrics.
Are you emotionally closer to Desigual or Agatha Ruiz de la Prada?
I admire the authenticity of Agatha Ruiz de la Prada . For me, that a designer achieves a style that lasts in the history of fashion causes me great admiration, whether I personally like his style or not.
“We have always been
Made in Spain.
We make everything in our country “
Without a doubt your knowledge and experience in formal wear is evident. Does the idea of breaking into the world of bridal fashion move you? Could you find a gap between Pronovias and Rosa Clará?
We have always made some wedding dresses, but rather to order, as an atelier in our stores.
The positioning as a brand that we have achieved does not allow us to do things in a mediocre way … The bridal line would have to be launched very well, with a defined project, an independent platform in the company, new team, attendance at international fairs, fashion shows, commercial network , image, etc.
It is not anything, neither financially nor within the moment that we are living in, but it is something that I know what we will do when we can put all the meat on the grill in it.
Reviewing your history, your curriculum, your experiences, it is discovered that you are an all-terrain, with four-wheel drive, with many horses in your engine. You have personally sold your creations throughout Spain trade to trade, you have designed, financed, created teams, you know the possibilities offered by fabrics and trimmings. Which chapter of the series do you prefer?
I love that about four-wheel drive… The truth is that all my chapters are connected , the previous one would not be the same without the next one and so on. I need all of you in my life to understand where I am and what I am.
We have given our previous question an automobile air. Just out of curiosity: is it true that you sold your car, in its day, to finance the creation of your first sample book or is it an urban legend?
It’s completely true … I had to start from scratch, all I had was my car. This contains behind a love-hate story that perhaps one day I will tell in detail.
In 2019 your landing in the online universe took place. What assessment do you make? Has its increase been very significant since the health crisis began?
During the first wave we did not notice it because the communion season was practically closed; However, this year we are noticing a considerable increase in online sales due to the perimeter closures as people are losing their fear of buying this type of garment online.
Let’s focus on the present. Spanish market. International market. Online sale. Classic sale to multi-brand / multi-product points of sale. Where is the businesswoman Hortensia Maeso going? And where do you think you can find a horizon for the development and growth of the company? What are your main markets and which ones do you have in your sights?
At the moment we cover all national sales channels, but soon we will start a new international expansion project with the support of ICEX. We are very excited about it and it is something that has already been knocking on the door for some time now …
“The positioning as a brand that we have achieved does not allow us to do things in a mediocre way”
It already tires. Bored already. Let’s try to put Covid aside. But it is inevitable to recognize that the situation since March of last year is special. How has your company changed? Apart from the design masks and consistent with your ceremony models, what measures, what contributions, solutions, what projects have been adulterated, changed, suppressed?
We are trying to survive because the celebrations are very slow, but I have faith that it will all end soon. So I baptized the new collection with the name of Faith , with the hope of moving forward and continuing to grow. That is why for the moment we have not suppressed anything, rather we are reinventing ourselves and continuing to give the best in what we know how to do.
The projects that we had continue forward; In addition, we have created the new online baby line. We have also started the Pop-up project in Seville, and shortly, when limitations allow, we will be in Zaragoza.
The change has led us to promote sustainability with designs that do not expire and the launch of archive collections for online sales, goodbye to fast fashion! We continue to simmer with slow fashion in our DNA.
We have also opened a new store in Madrid, in a larger and better located space than the previous one. On Calle Claudio Coello, 27 along with big brands like Marni, Etro or Polo Ralph Lauren.
We will soon launch a new more casual line also for e-commerce , in addition to putting the batteries to expand in the international market as I have mentioned and not having, as I say, all the eggs in the same basket.
The fact that many communions and other ceremonies have been postponed throughout 2020 must have been a major setback for the company. What is the forecast for 2021?
We complained last year, but when the campaign started, everything was already sold, then deliveries were delayed, but everything went ahead.
This year is being harder due to the uncertainty of the dates, the intimate celebrations, etc.
Restaurants and bars make a lot of noise with the losses in their businesses, but there are many more, from the ceremony sector in particular, who are trying to survive.
You’ve recently launched a baby collection, which is still a gutsy gamble at a difficult time. I suppose it is still too early to assess the reception it is having …
It is a bit early because it is a summer collection and also within our world of ceremony. You already know how the celebrations are. I hope that if this continues, people will focus on having baptisms anyway, albeit in a more familiar way. In the end, the important thing is the act and not so much the party.
You have your own stores in Madrid and Valencia. Do you plan to open more in the short / medium term? How important is the multi-brand channel in the distribution of your collections?
Due to the high demand and in the absence of a good point of sale, it is possible that we will open soon in Seville. Opening more stores will depend on the evolution of the multi-brand store.
Today, the multi-brand channels that represent the firm well are fundamental to the company and our wish is that they last forever.
Regarding manufacturing, is everything carried out in the Valencia workshop? Do you think that there is really a relocation of production in our country?
We have always been Made in Spain . We make everything in our country, in our workshop or elsewhere, but always mark Spain, which also has great added value and is recognized in other countries. We have always bet on the Made Near .
It seems, it only seems, that from September we could enter a certain normality. Do you intuit it like that? Are you preparing something special for an almost post-covid stage?
I have already fallen twice and I have been able to overcome, now I am strong and I also have pillars built in faith. Everything will pass and we will move on … which I am not sure in what new ways … but being on the lookout with a great power of quick reaction is my best preparation for what has to come. Even so, I am not resting on my laurels as I have been telling you.
How do you see your proposals, your company, in five years?
Right now the Covid has taught us that five years can be incredibly uncertain…. But I am sure that we will continue working hard to continue to excel.
The last one: Are you happy?
Always … but I never stop working on it.
(Courtesy: Noticiero Textil)