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Saturday, September 24, 2022

“From a very young age they taught me to sew and I made the dresses for the barbies myself”

After spending two decades in the Merletti textile group –which brings together firms such as Dandara or Merletti– Madrid businesswoman Leire Manzanares now has three years as head of & Me Unlimited, a project that revolves around sustainability. “There is another way of doing things,” says Manzanares, who has always been linked to the fashion industry. “My parents [su padre es uno de los socios fundadores de Merletti] they began their professional life in the textile world”, she explains. He still remembers how her mother created the outfits for her dolls with the scraps that her father brought home from the workshop. “From a very young age they taught me to sew and very soon I made the dresses for the barbies myself,” she reveals. Before embarking on her career in the textile universe, Manzanares studied biology. “Biology and the world of nature were in my DNA, but also clothing and fashion. I finished my studies and was working on my final year project when my father offered me to help him in the drawing and design department. And since then…until now!” While she was taking her first steps in the company and feeling more and more attracted to the sector, she decided to train as a superior technician in pattern making and design in Madrid. “I have a very restless mind and I always have to be studying or learning something, I think that when you learn something academically, the understanding is deeper. And knowing the processes in the textile world in a global way was essential”, she points out. Leire Manzanares, the founder of & Me Unlimited, next to one of her outfits. Photo: Courtesy of & Me Unlimited Years later, she packed her bags and went to New York, a break that she saw as an opportunity to closely observe another market and train in commerce and marketing at the University of Virginia. Three years later, he returned to Spain with the idea of ​​creating a new firm. After a year of macerating the project, & Me Unlimited finally saw the light of day in 2019. “The brand was born under the conviction that there is another way of doing things. But not only in the fashion industry, but in every area of ​​our lives. As consumers, it is the responsibility of each one of us to choose more sustainable models, but if the market does not present them to you, it is complicated”, details Manzanares. “Sustainability is not a trend or greenwhasing, it is a commitment to the future,” she emphasizes. Since its first steps in 2019, & Me Unlimited manufactures its models in Talavera, advocating local production and made in Spain. “We manufacture in Spain because roots are an essential part of our identity. Producing here allows us to have a more exhaustive control of the quality of our product, reduce CO2 emissions and the carbon footprint”, she summarizes. His creations have the highest certification of national manufacturing: the label made in Spain. “Like banknotes, each of our garments has a unique serial number generated by the Confederación Moda España and printed at the Fábrica de Moneda y Timbre”, specifies the creative. With sales divided between the national clientele and the international market, from & Me Unlimited they distribute their products through multi-brand stores and their own online store. And, in line with the firm’s commitment to sustainability, its production model is limited and on demand. “By producing nationally, we manufacture very limited stocks and, if there is a high demand at a specific time, we have the possibility of generating a pre-order and the garments are manufactured in 20 days,” she explains. Photo: Courtesy of & Me Unlimited “A few days ago we presented the collection in the United Kingdom, one of the points we had planned for 2020,” she says. And it is that, after its launch in 2019, they experienced an expansion by leaps and bounds that was limited by the outbreak of the coronavirus. “In our first 10 months of experience, we had opened a market on four continents and had points of sale in 11 countries. But when the pandemic broke out, that growth curve was cut. Thanks to the structure of the firm and having full control of the production, we were able to slow down and adapt to the reality of that moment”, he adds. In this project nothing is a coincidence and the name of the firm also hides a reason. “We chose & Me Unlimited because we understand that a woman’s style cannot be limited, corseted or marked by current trends,” argues Manzanares, who always prioritizes the character and personal style of each of her clients. “The important thing is not us or how we define the brand, but the woman who wears our designs. We do not want the name of any designer or brand to prevail over the woman, but rather that she be faithful to her own identity and see it reflected in our product”, she maintains. Photo: Courtesy of &Me Unlimited The timeless and relaxed style of & Me Unlimited has allowed its designs to slip into the dressing room of characters as relevant (and disparate) as Queen Letizia or the Italian fashion prescriber Chiara Ferragni. “On May 28, the day of the Armed Forces parade, Letizia wore the Gabriela dress. The impact was gigantic”, recalls the businesswoman. It was one of her biggest milestones, and generated a tsunami of messages from her clients, to which they responded seamlessly thanks to her production model. “That design belonged to the 20/21 collection and was sold out, but we generated a pre-order and relaunched it on the website,” she recalls. For Manzanares, “things can be done in Spain without having to go to another point on the planet, in 20 years of experience in the sector I have seen a lot of industry disappear on the Mediterranean coast, mainly in Catalonia,” she says. Although for the businesswoman, although in Spain local production is not valued as much as in the international market, the consumption model is evolving towards responsibility. “After the coronavirus, we have witnessed the essentials of the national and locally created industry. I trust that five years from now we can say that Spanish fashion is in fashion”, she concludes. Photo: Courtesy of &Me Unlimited Continue reading From shoeing Dalí to producing for Yves Saint Laurent: the Spanish Castañer espadrilles that Jill Biden has bought

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– Article Written By @Mónica Pérez Sobrino from https://smoda.elpais.com/moda/la-fundadora-de-me-unlimited-cuando-la-reina-letizia-llevo-el-modelo-gabriela-el-impacto-fue-gigantesco/

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