The Animals Observatory burst on to the scene last year surrounded with the sort of excitement and buzz reserved for rumours of a Kate Bush comeback. This is of course in large part due to the high regard the industry has for founder and creative director Laia Aguilar. We talk to Laia about her inspiration, life, super powers and the children’s fashion industry in a bid to discover a bit more about this curious mind.
Some quick fire questions on growing up to warm up
- Shy or loud? Shy.
- Art department or sports hall? Home.
- First to get picked or last? Last, always!
- Ride a bike or climb a tree? Walk.
- Mix tape or radio? Radio.
- Shorts or skirt? Jeans.
- Favourite trainer/sports shoe? Boots.
- Life changing film? Amarcord, Fellini.
- Artist you wished you were? Joan Miró.
- Place you felt happy? Home.
- Your favourite animal? Cats & dogs.
What was life like before being involved in children’s design?
Before setting up Bobo Choses and The Animals Observatory my life involved working at an advertising agency: a lot of stress, a lot of work, always on edge… Everything changed when I became pregnant. It was clear to me the direction I needed to take. And I made the right decision. Fashion design, for me, is a very complete artistic discipline.
How has your own childhood influenced your collections?
I couldn’t say exactly. In some ways, when I design, I’m still a little girl playing with coloured pencils and a notebook.
How does your childhood compare to that of your own children?
We are from very different generations, although there is a key element that unites us: curiosity.
The Animals observatory is obviously your second label. How is it second time round? There must have been a lot of lessons learnt from having already been through the process?
That’s absolutely true: The Animals Observatory is a more mature project. In every sense. Both creatively and in terms of management.
Did you consider doing anything else other than kids design after leaving Bobo Choses?
It was an upheaval for me. I opted to leave the brand in order to preserve my integrity. I never considered doing anything else though; I like my work and was lucky enough to meet my business partner, Jan Andreu, and a new team full of genuine, hard-working people, who aren’t afraid of taking risks.
How does a collection come about?
Flaubert said he believed in muses, especially when they called on him while he was working. What I mean is that the important thing is to work hard, search, decide, enjoy, set yourself challenges…
Describe a typical working day, do you like routine?
Yes, I like routine because I like my life. I get up at 7am and am busy with normal family life until 9am. I take my kids to catch the school bus and work until about 6pm. Then more family time. And all this in a small town with only 200 residents, surrounded by forest and tranquillity.
Where do you work best?
I have just finished building a house with a studio for painting and designing in. I’m sure I’ll be very happy there.
What role does risk play in your creative life?
I believe that, without risk, there is no art. As I said before, for me, fashion is another artistic discipline. You have to be completely honest with yourself about what you believe and what you create. And that involves risk.
Do your children offer you lots of advice?
All the time. They are my harshest critics. And I listen to what they say.
1st samples: cry or laugh?
Good question! Normally, I cry, hahaha.
A few years ago you illustrated a beautiful children’s book ‘Bonjour Camille’, written by your husband, working together must have made it a really fun project. Do you have any plans to work on other projects like this in the future?
It was wonderful. My husband and I still work on a lot of projects together, The Animals Observatory included. He is the creative director of some of the brand’s fashions films and he wrote our Manifesto. His vision is part of The Animals Observatory’s DNA. He also manages the brand’s creative department. We’ve been together for 24 years and we really enjoy working together.
What is your favourite and least favourite part of the children’s fashion industry?
My favourite part is having discovered an artistic language in children’s fashion. The thing I like least is seeing the lack of effort being put in by the majority of the industry. They don’t take children seriously. And that is a mistake. They teach us adults things that we have forgotten.
There must be a big demand for an adult range? So many labels in the market are crossing over, is this something you’d consider?
Every time a new collection comes out I get asked about designing for adults. Honestly it’s not something I’m considering at the moment. A lot of brands make the leap in line with a business model—which is completely legitimate—but what often happens is they fail to deliver a truly authentic range. And that shows.
What’s your superpower?
I’m a seeker
Finally, will you share with us a selection of images from your camera roll:
The Animals Observatory
Creative Director Laia Aguilar
CEO & Co-fouder Jan Andreu
Founded 2014 but first collection SS 2016
Available worldwide in 22 countries, in over 130 stockists
243 references in SS17 collection