As we have seen in recent months, Buenos Aires has gone full steam ahead in reinventing itself as a fashion capital of the world, and the city is home to a vast community of young brands who are changing up the design scene. That being said, the overwhelming quantity of things on offer means that it’s not always evident where to go, so we’re bringing you our guide to the alternative ways to shop in the city.
When I say alternative, I mean ways of shopping that demonstrate a more curated and considered approach to consumption, an attitude shift that can have a real impact on the future of the planet. The fast-fashion industry is one of the most environmentally dangerous businesses in existence today. The second-highest polluter of clean water after agriculture, the use of toxic chemicals and increasing textile waste demonstrate how cost-cutting and time pressures have led to a rampant disregard for environmental concerns.
While the locales we’ll cite in this series by no means describe themselves exclusively as ‘eco-fashion,’ they all feature the work of home-grown designers and artists working with local fabrics and resources, all of which are produced in a fairly limited run. They represent a way of changing our behaviors, where instead of clinging on to constant consumption of cheap, low-quality products, we move toward a more considerate attitude, buying unique, well-crafted pieces with staying power.
We will look at businesses providing a more curated approach to fashion and design, starting with the art and design multiespacio Autoría. Founded 11 years ago by Argentine Luis Alberto Feris and Madrid-born Borja Goyeneche Silvela, this is a space dedicated to showcasing the exciting and vibrant world of contemporary Argentine art and design.
Autoría is a somewhat surprising find, surrounded by the hotels and offices of central neighborhood Retiro, but upon entering the shop you are immediately aware of the attention to detail and the passion that goes in to sourcing and displaying the clothing, accessories, art, and objects available.
The space has shown the work of over 700 Argentine artists and designers in its lifetime, yet it does not seem crowded. It is this impeccable eye for curation that makes shopping at Autoría such a pleasant experience. Despite the variety of pieces on offer, they are synthesized beautifully to create a harmonious space that never fails to have you counting your pesos.
Their offer is unique and multifaceted, on the one hand showing the work of well-known designers, who have won national prizes and have been exhibited in New York, Paris and London. “These are mixed in with the work of lesser-known artists who we think make interesting products, so that we have a wide variety of prices and styles,” says Borja.
Autoría’s vision stretches far wider than the confines of Buenos Aires, championing the work of these lesser-known artists who otherwise would struggle to get a foothold in the Capital. Borja explains that it is an art space where they work with producers from all parts of Argentina, “with a variety of styles, trajectories, and prices.”
Indeed, you can find pieces by artists from provinces such as Corrientes, Tucumán and Santa Fe, who “generally don’t have access to design shops and at galleries in the Capital, such as those who work in the interior of the country and who often make really interesting things, but don’t have visibility here in Buenos Aires.”
They are constantly searching out new designers and artists to exhibit, in what seems a truly Sisyphean task of going to ferias, workshops, and shows. A lot of the sourcing is also done through word of mouth: they are now a well-established figure in the national art world, so they often find potential producers to exhibit through other artists and designers and even their clients. For Autoría, it is less a question of finding the pieces than selecting them, as although the space is large, there is a limit to how much they can exhibit.
Autoría finds itself somewhere at the junction between the ferias and galerías. It’s much more formal and curated than the former but more accessible and less rigid than the latter, attracting a different kind of clientele. As Borja tells me, “our prices are accessible to the public and we mix art and design to bring art closer to people who don’t necessarily identify as ‘art gallery people.’” When we consider art galleries, they are a more formal, static experience, while Autoría represents something entirely different, in a dynamic multi-discipline space in constant flux.
For Borja, the Argentine contemporary art movement is particularly exciting, although it has faced its challenges. The past few months have seen the lifting of the export restrictions that had seriously complicated the national art business, but rising inflation has impacted Argentines’ buying power. The fact that it is more expensive to buy here also means that products ‘Made in Argentina’ often struggle to match the competitive prices of those found abroad.
However, at Autoría, they are careful to look for pieces that demonstrate a good price-quality relationship, so that “what we have are prices that are very accessible given the quality of the work.” It is this accessibility which makes them so successful in their mission, to show what they find the “most interesting in the contemporary Argentine art and design scene.” By making the prices and feel of the place accessible, they have created a space that brings art closer to people without the intimidating formality of the traditional gallery scene.
Having already become such an established part of the Argentine contemporary art world, where can they go from here? Inevitably, the next step is to develop their online presence. However, this is no mean feat, given that often they display unique pieces, so they don’t have five identical copies to sell; the sheer quantity of stock means that digitalization is a truly mammoth task. However, looking at their successes so far, there is no doubt that they will accomplish this as well.
Mon to Fri 9.30AM – 8PM, Sat 10AM – 6PM | Suipacha 1025, Retiro | Autoría Buenos Aires