“It all starts with a story,” says Andreas Aresti on a Zoom call from New York. As the founder and designer of his own fashion brand, Lourdes, storytelling is important to him at all stages of creation. Her story begins with her parents
Aresti was born to immigrant parents in Queens, New York. Her father is Greek Cypriot and her mother, who gave the brand her name, is from Peru. The intoxicating mix of cultures that the borough offers has always been at the heart of its design philosophy: “This is the starting point for it all,” he says. “My aesthetic is my experience.
All of these influences converged in her first Lourdes collection, Niagara Falls, named after a photo of her parents standing in front of the natural attraction on one of their very first dates. Aresti remembers how her parents mixed clothes, split jackets, or tied pieces around their bodies in new and interesting ways. These benchmarks became integral sources of early inspiration.
One of her first designs in Lourdes was a dress made up of a jacket, which can be worn as either. It was like a direct tribute to the way he watched his mother wearing clothes. “There are a lot more philosophical things that I took from my parents,” he said. “But the starting point of my design journey is my parents, my family. “
Aresti describes his experience in fashion as “weird”. He never went to school to study design, but was first exposed to a sewing machine by his mother, who taught him the mechanics of the trade. His early experiences led him to a friend of a friend who ran Gypsy Sport (“Back then they just made hats”), where Aresti unveiled the brand’s first clothing collection.
This early collaboration launched Aresti on a career path that saw him working with an actual designer handbag as he navigated between the worlds of streetwear and luxury and back again. From Gypsy Sport, Aresti went on to work with Nicola Formichetti, Tim Coppens, Stefano Pilati and even Kanye West as a stylist and designer for Yeezy.
“When you work for people and you have different mentors, you take a little bit of it and it kind of gives you your own identity,” Aresti said. It is this specific blend of influences that has helped define the creative DNA of Lourdes. “At the end of the day, I think my journey is to erase the boxes,” he said. “To me, the design process is meant to be a mystery, a journey where you don’t know where you’re going to end up.”
Aresti was working on designs for Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air reboot when he got the idea to create his own line. He wondered if this was the right time to stand on his own feet. “” Is 10 years of experience enough? He wondered. “I just didn’t know. But the apple was so juicy, hanging down in front of me that I couldn’t deny myself the opportunity.”
Lourdes was created as Aresti’s response to an American luxury brand and that of New York. He longed for the days of Ralph Lauren and Halston, when the city was a hub for creative continental expression. “Why are there no American luxury brands? ” he asked me. “Why isn’t there an American Mugler? Why isn’t there an American version of Jacquemus? “”
The amalgamation of his experiences working with acclaimed streetwear and luxury designers has prepared him to fill this gap. With Lourdes, Aresti set out to merge her experiences across the fashion world into something that felt in a unique position. Take, for example, his pants with multiple pockets. Here, Aresti adorns a simple silhouette with a column of pockets that start at the waist and end at the hem. They overlap between utility and absurdity in a way that makes them hard to sidetrack.
Lourdes was launched just before the start of the pandemic, but Aresti continues to design with her brand drop. His rolodex of inspiration is abundant and he cites Gordon Gekko, cowboy culture and Americana as recent starting points. But more than anything, he knows that when it comes to referrals, sometimes he’s looking for something a little bigger.
“I don’t know if it’s because Kanye and Stefano were older and obviously more acclaimed,” he recalls of two of his most formative mentors. “But in my experiences with these two guys, it was never about clothes. It was still the message. It was always a question of attitude. It was always a question of tone.
It will always come down to her parents – Lourdes got her name from her mother, after all. It is important for him to keep the original DNA that he anchored in the foundation of the brand, even as the brand grows and takes on a new form. “I am very left and right at the same time. So I like to try to infuse everything into one.