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Hugo Costa: “I feel that both Bloom and I have grown together”
Hugo Costa: “I feel that both Bloom and I have grown together”
Hugo Costa, on the official calendar of events at Paris Men's Fashion Week since 2016, is a perfect example of the growth and ascension provided by Bloom's dynamic talent accelerator. He began his career on the young designer platform in 2010. In March 2014, he made the move to the main catwalk at Portugal Fashion and in 2016, also with this support, he was present at the London Collections Men and Paris Fashion Week Menswear showrooms, which has since made it possible for him to map out the internationalisation plan for his label from an integrated perspective. With the pride of someone who's known Bloom since it first appeared, Hugo Costa says that until that platform came along, "there was nothing new in national fashion”. The designer from São João da Madeira spoke to Bloom In about how he has evolved as a designer, his opinion on new talents and the future of the national fashion ecosystem. 

You're one of Bloom's success stories, seeing as you not only moved on to Portugal Fashion's main catwalk, but you also made the international leap and now you're on the official calendar of Paris Men's Fashion Week. How far did Bloom help with this ascension?
Bloom gave me space to evolve, with the right monitoring and the conditions I needed to do a good job. It gave me time to learn and make good decisions and to risk more.

Do you think that the fact you got your start on a platform that has gained international visibility and has always positioned itself as an incubator of new talents made a difference? Do you feel that flourishing in Bloom is somehow a means of appearing on the market under the scope of the "born global” concept? 
Even though it's necessary to incorporate a global market and think commercially, for me, Bloom was a space for thinking creatively. If it's an incubator, then it's for allowing you to make mistakes, correcting them and making you grow. I feel that just as Bloom and I have grown up together, one day we'll grow apart, because we continue to grow. 

Is there anything in the Hugo Costa label that could be identified as "Bloom school”? We're not talking about a creative perspective, where Bloom seeks to foster individuality, but from a point of view of the market approach, brand differentiation or even the relationship with the fashion "ecosystem”.
I think that there's a common denominator in all the projects that began in Bloom. A particular identity, a strong concept, difficult to impose, but less repeatable, with a close connection to the mind behind it. In this perspective, our project is 100% Bloomer, we still believe that it's the differentiation, identity and the concept that will bring the best results in the medium and long term. And that's what national fashion needs. Of course this makes the road long and hard, because we're not so mainstream. We work for extremely competitive market niches.

In your opinion, what are the essential characteristics in a new talent? What do scouters and the market value most?
You have to be able to analyse a young person and understand the creative capacity and sustainability of the project, but also their tenacity, resilience and organisation. It's not enough to be creative; we have to work hard, overcome failures and use our time wisely, because we often divide our time with other projects to pay for our own one. 
 
The fashion world moves at a pace accelerated by the dynamics of the digital economy. Although you're still young, you've certainly seen changes in the fashion industry since you began your career. How has Portugal evolved? What does Portugal need to do to improve its positioning as an international talent factory? 
Until Bloom came along in 2010, there was nothing new in national fashion. With Bloom and with the names that appeared there, a buzz was created and a process began which is continuing to attract international attention. For us to position ourselves as a talent factory, we have to know how to communicate, invest more in training the Bloomers and prepare them for the business, but never limit their creativity. We need to invest in the digital field, and support the young people in creating content. Many of them have good projects but they don't know how to communicate them. Making a basic lookbook costs a lot of money, which is often fundamental for producing collections. And we mustn't forget that practically all of these projects are the result of personal investment in what is practically a "one-man show”.
 
Apart from being a designer, you're a teacher too. The knowledge and experience you've acquired in this double career will certainly give you a clear vision on training new talents. What skills should be prioritised? 
We have schools in Portugal that already provide excellent technical and creative training, like Modatex, where I teach. I might be biased, but I think it's the best national course. Generally, I think we need to restructure courses and adapt the content to the new realities. Some schools give good technical preparation; others are more creative. But some still have programmes that are out of step with the reality of the industry. And for us to be good designers, we need to be very familiar with the industrial process. Many of the schools still don't know the industry. Maybe it's time for designers and industry to make themselves heard, in order to create better programmes and to train better professionals.

What were your best Bloom moments? What experiences stand out for you?
I had so many good moments. My first collection was very special. My personal and professional life was also undergoing a transformation. I had just won Acrobactic and I got an invitation from Miguel Flor. And my last Bloom was special too. It was in Lisbon, at a wonderful venue. I felt that I had reached the end of my Bloom process. That I was ready for more.

How do you see the future of national fashion? 
I hope it continues to invest in kids. We need to inject new energy into the national fashion scene, so that even the more experienced will continue to feel the need to evolve and feel challenged by the irreverence of the younger generation. I like to believe that we have made a space for ourselves internationally, but there's still a lot that can be improved.


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