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Katty Xiomara
Katty Xiomara

She needs no introduction. The reputation of her name, which is also the name of her label, puts Katty Xiomara among the best-known faces in the area of fashion design in Portugal. In fact, her creations designed in Porto have also been blazing a solid trail on the international scene, with the intensification of promotional campaigns, especially in transatlantic markets. Embark on this journey.

It was on 12 September 2016 that Katty Xiomara took another step towards international consolidation of her work. For the first time with the support of Portugal Fashion, the designer presented her proposals for spring-summer 2017 at New York Fashion Week, in a collection called "Agulhas Current”, which is inspired by the sea and the Portuguese Discoveries. This theme is quite appropriate for a designer who, for the fifth time, took to the catwalk of one of the most important fashion weeks in the world. Now, her aim is to gain more ground in America. Continuous promotional efforts brought about references to her presence at NYFW in two prestigious publications: WWD – Women’s Wear Daily and New York Magazine.

In fact, she made her début in New York in 2013 and since then, as she revealed to SIC, her creations are being sold in around 50 boutiques from the east to west coast of the country. The next aim is to maintain this customer loyalty and expand the marketing network, which according to a local buyer, Autumn Marie, "has been growing in recent years”.

Asian market complements label's internationalisation strategy

Apart from the USA, Katty Xiomara has also been looking to another overseas destination, this time, the land of the rising sun. In Japan, ModEL inc is the local representative and the showrooms promoted are seeking to leverage the projection the label needs in that country, receptive to the recognised romantic, girl-woman style of the designer.

The most recent example was a showroom which was held from 24 to 28 October in Tokyo, where the new collection was presented. As Katty Xiomara explained to Portugal Fashion, "the strategy includes insisting and continuously reminding them that we're here, releasing the maximum of news and features”. The designer understands that this requires patience and persistence, but she also believes it is fundamental, taking into account the small size of the domestic market in Portugal.

An unequalled setting for the SS17 fashion show

Katty Xiomara's fashion show at the 39th national Portugal Fashion will certainly go down in the history of the project as one of the most surprising, both for the architecture of the building itself and the panorama over the Atlantic from the extraordinary balcony. Some people in the audience drew an analogy with MAC – the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum, and it is easy to see why.

The outdoor amphitheatre of the recently opened Cruise Terminal in the Port of Leixões, designed by architect Luís Pedro Silva, was the venue chosen for a fashion show that was also linked to the sea. It was risky, but it brought the best results (like this reference in the international Hunger Magazine), as the designer confessed: "Presenting the fashion show outside was a tough decision, as it could have started to rain at any time. Fortunately, instead of rain, the weather gave us unique lighting, adding to the setting which in itself is marvellous”. In fact, for Katty Xiomara "there couldn't have been a better setting than that building by the sea. Incidentally, it was also the place chosen to photograph the lookbook for the same collection three months earlier. But at that time, we concentrated the photos on the area of the pier near the ships”, concluded the designer.

A label for the digital age

Reserved and discreet, Katty Xiomara knows that the present technological revolution requires more proximity to her audience, who are ultimately her customers. As she recently explained to Vogue Portugal, the designer made her début on the catwalks in 1998, at a time when this level of communication was non-existent. "It's not easy. To be honest, I don't mind making an appearance, but it's not my cup of tea. I'm shy and I don't really like talking a lot. I know that the market wants it, but I also know that I have to make posts or be on Instagram all the time".

Contingencies of the world we live in and that Katty Xiomara is ready to make appropriate responses to in order to make her label grow. In fact, on the recent partnership between the designer and Sport Zone powered by Portugal Fashion (which provides for a national designer to be invited to design a sportswear collection for Sport Zone each season, thus making access to designer fashion more democratic), this post on Instagram is one of the examples of the promotional and image work that Katty Xiomara has been engaging in. Which, of course, bears fruit. According to the Sonae group chain of sports shops "the first collection with Katty Xiomara was a first and very successful step in this partnership. The collection is still on sale and doing very well”, repeated the Iberian Marketing Director of Sport Zone, Mónica Pimentel.

A label that wants the World

Born in Venezuela to a Portuguese family, Katty Xiomara moved to Porto when she was 18. Her desire to make a name for herself in the world of fashion has its roots in Venezuela. As a child, she began by "imagining dresses for special occasions”, because of her close contact with quinceañeras, a revelation recently made to Vogue Portugal. In 1997, she finished her Fashion Design course at Citex (now Modatex), where she now teaches. In her teaching area – streetwear – she tries to instil her creative independence and the focus on foreign markets into her students, because she believes that it is important "for them to think they can go further, or that they can launch their own labels, because nowadays streetwear is reaching new heights”, she said.

She has been on the calendar of the fashion week organised by Portugal Fashion since 1998, when she made her début on the catwalk. Immediately before this, she had completed an internship at Trussardi House, which she earned as a result of taking first place at Fashion and Technology in Florence. Very early on in her career, she began reconciling the development of her label with other projects in a variety of areas, such as children's clothing, uniforms, theatre, television, music, dance and graphic arts. In 2000, she designed the wardrobe for a play adapted from "The Divine Comedy” by Dante Alighieri, with choreography by Jean Paul Bucchieri, at the Centro Cultural de Belém in Lisbon. A year later, she registered her commercial brand but she only ventured abroad in 2005.

In between her regular presentations at Portugal Fashion, she also takes part in numerous parallel projects, examples of which are the creation of a lingerie line, XIK, or designing a limited edition bag for the Sony Playstation PSP – White, distributed exactly 10 years ago, in 2006.

In 2012, she received an official visit from the then Portuguese President, Aníbal Cavaco Silva, under the scope of a visit to creative industries par excellence. In 2014, she won the silver medal at IDA, "International Design Awards”, and she repeated this feat in 2015. She also received an Honourable Mention. The corporate image of the label was recognised and received an award from the American magazine HOW and her work has been published in several international editions.

Katty Xiomara has been on the catwalks in Paris many times. She also went to Tokyo in 2011, under the scope of Weareurope. She is a regular presence at international trade shows and her international career includes participation at the two Bread & Butter events, in Berlin and Barcelona, at Project, Las Vegas, and more recently at Edit, in New York, as a result of her increasing closeness to the American market (where she has been present with the support of the Next Step project, the "commercial arm” of Portugal Fashion).

It is from her studio, a renovated house located in the emblematic Rua da Boavista in Porto, that Katty Xiomara designs for the foreign market and replies to requests from international stockists. For now, apart from the USA and Japan, her label is also present in Spain, Italy, the United Kingdom, Ireland and even the Dominican Republic. The next aim is to broaden her horizons, to discover New Worlds.