Having a sustainable approach and the opportunity to speak about its importance holds within Port Zienna’s representation. Francesca Canepa, founder and creative director of Port Zienna, introduces a ready-to-wear label which focuses on ethical designs that inspires a lifetime of ideas about how to make the world a better place. Taking a conscious approach to fashion inhabits a creative and clear mission in mind. Port Zienna’s collection No.II was inspired by the imagery of Onna-Bugeisha – female samurai warriors who fought in the imperial Japanese army; A symphony of strength occupies the collection’s visualisation carved with minimalist art.
We sat down with the designer herself to discuss all things fashion, her many sources of inspiration & her vision.
The Port Zienna Journey
Francesca: It is a long story but the reality is that I waited for the right moment. When I was 18 years old, I moved from Lima Peru to Paris to earn a BA in Fashion Design and Pattern Making. I later returned to my country to work for a few years under my mentor Ani Alvarez Calderon, and then moved to New York to complete a postgraduate degree in Fashion Marketing and Merchandising from the Fashion Institute of Technology. Once I graduated from FIT, I started an internship at J.Mendel and later another one at Oscar De La Renta, which led me to Finesse Embroideries, an embroidery atelier; where I designed embroideries for haute couture houses such as Burberry, Tom Ford, Carolina Herrera, Oscar De La Renta, and Monique L’huillier.
After more than 7 years in luxury, I noticed many problems in the fashion industry. Fashion is one of the world’s most polluting industries and the largest consumer of water. It’s also known for its exploitation of workers, who typically earn less than $3 per day. I wanted to do something about it and decided to start a project with a meaning. My goal was to to provide a healthy work environment, steady income and flexibility to employees while using the best quality using sustainable fabrics, thereby minimising our carbon footprint. So I decided to create my own company where I could ensure our practices remain wholy ethical, and Port Zienna was born.
The Many Sources of Inspiration
Francesca: Since the beginning of Port Zienna, I have been influenced by minimalist artists and architects such as Richard Serra and Troels Sandegard. There is something about modern minimalism that inspires me to create the ‘Port Zienna Aesthetic’ and adapt this concept to classic modern essential pieces for every-day use.
The Impact of Social Media
Francesca: Social media has been our window to the world. We do not advertise – all the press we have gained in less than a year (including features in Vogue and presentations at New York Fashion Week and Vancouver Fashion Week) was thanks to our exposure on Instagram and Facebook. We have also been approached by retailers through our social media pages, so let’s say it has impacted tremendously on our growth journey.
A Usual Day for Team Port Zienna
Francesca: Everyday is different and I believe that’s the beauty of owning a small business. Some days are scheduled for meetings with buyers and new retailers, others are specifically for sustainable suppliers or press inquiries. But when I feel inspired to design I have to stop everything and focus. When inspiration comes in you cannot let it fly away; doesn’t matter what time or day it is!
The Favourite Port Zienna Styling
Francesca: Port Zienna is a modern yet classic brand, and the styling and art direction should go hand in hand with the beauty of simple things in life. The most important thing is that each piece shines on its own and expresses the classic look we love. For me, the less information you provide the more beautiful message you give.
Francesca’s Closet Essentials
Francesca: I am not into trends, therefore I love classic pieces that never go out of style. In my closet I have almost 10 different designs of white blouses and palazzo pants. Port Zienna’s white jumpsuit 1-0101 and culottes 2-1102 are my must-haves pieces for spring/summer but my absolute favorite is dress-shirt 2-0701. As you can see, I am in black and white almost everyday.
The Insider Tip for Aspiring Designers
Francesca: It is ok to ask for help; creating your own business is not easy and you will have to face many obstacles on your own. The fashion industry can be hard but there are always nice people willing to help others, so do not hesitate to ask.Also, do not forget that experience builds you as a person and entrepreneur, so have patience in time and learn from your mentors, make mistakes, and when you are ready to push yourself to make it on your own, do it.
Follow Port Zienna: @portzienna