Meet the Uruguayan label pioneering affordable demi-couture dressing

With the trend in economically- minded shoppers making a shift from fast fashion to more environmentally alternatives, it’s no surprise that demi-couture is having a moment. Directly translated as ‘half couture’, clothing emanates the craftsmanship of handmade techniques employed during the haute couture process but comes with a price point closer to ready-to-wear. With the rise of Instagram over the past ve years, fashion consumers have become more interested in travel and are more clued up on local skill and traditions, and as such are willing to pay more upmarket prices knowing that they are buying into true craft at its core. It can even be said that instead of blindly following trends, customers are on the hunt for items that can be cherished long after the season has ended.
 
Following in the footsteps of Alexander McQueen, Valentino and Mary Katrantzou, Uruguayan label Zarvich also offers high-quality, couture-esque garments infused with longevity. The contemporary label prides itself on designing handmade luxury pieces, marrying the artisanal and the industrialised. “Each piece is crafted in small-scale workshops where we blend traditional techniques with innovative details,” explains co-founder Vivian Sulimovich who alongside Florencia Gómez de Salazar founded the label last year. “For us, demi-couture is that attention to detail blended with the practicality of purchasing a garment which is immediately available in your size,” adds Vivian.The design duo both studied fashion design at ORT University in Montevideo, Uruguay, but branched out into different spheres, with Florencia studying art while Vivian continued her learning within the fashion marketing sphere.
 
This blend of skills could be attributed to the flourishing brand’s success. “We work in a very collaborative way and share the decision making,” Florencia enthuses. “I work in the development of textural resources and textile experimentation, while Vivian designs the silhouettes and the styling, while also acts as curator of the collection.”In keeping with the label’s artisanal philosophy Vivian andFlorenciasourcethebestmaterialsfromlocalsuppliers, using wool that has been ethically sourced without harming sheep, and leather collected as a byproduct of the meat industry. “Uruguay is well-known for its meat production and cattle is the number one export,” says Florencia matter-of-factly. “There are four times more cattle than people here so leather is an abundant source. We work collaboratively with our tanneries and follow the sourcing from up close.”
 
They also work closely with local craftspeople – a culmination of embroiderers, tailors, pattern makers, and digital print specialists to achieve a nuanced amalgamation of traditional skill as well as evolving contemporary production methods. But what is it that makes Uruguayan culture so unique? “It’s a melting pot of Spanish, Italian, French and Portuguese traditions that found their place next to the local indigenous countryside gauchos and Afro-descendants,” Vivian remarks.
 
Zarvich’s AW18 collection stays true to Florencia and Vivian’s heritage with striking shapes, colours and prints that are symbolic of the natural world and a polished urban texture, producing a result that is as opulent as it is powerful.“Everything around us has the potential of turning into a source of inspiration. We’re particularly attracted by nature and its limitless wonders, the most perfect form of art,” Florencia says. The new season collection retains this notion drawing inspiration from as far flung as Iceland, bringing together the juxtaposing landscape of volcanoes and glaciers alongside lush meadows and the surrounding wildlife. From cool blue embroidered tailored blazers and skinny trousers, through to cropped kick- are leather trousers and alluring asymmetrical hemlines, Zarvich clearly designs for the global woman who prides herself in building a wardrobe of pieces designed to be worn and loved for seasons to come.

Photography: Courtesy of Zarvich