FASHION

exploring the roots and internationalisation of flamenco fashion

exploring the roots and internationalisation of flamenco fashion

Between a flamenco design’s conception to the birth of a flamenco dress, weeks or even months may pass. This artisanal process, carried out by dressmakers and flamenco fashion designers, comparable to that of prestigious haute couture brands, materialises in high-quality garments that have managed to evolve and popularise this attire beyond Spain, rooted in the rich tradition of the southern region of the country.

At the dawn of a new season, We Love Flamenco once again set the pulse of a sector preparing to arrive in time for the emblematic April Fair in Seville. An event that inaugurates the fairs and pilgrimages in Andalusia, where the costumes leave the catwalk and fill the natural environment, the event centre where the annual celebrations [of the April Fair] take place.

The flamenco fashion market is as diverse as its protagonists, each with a unique history and a business model as genuine as its costumes, which, although rooted in tradition, have the ability to transform ruffles, polka dots and fringes into completely different stories.

Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer
Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer

With the successful expansion of flamenco fashion beyond the borders of Andalusia, embracing international opportunities, the sector experiences constant annual growth. The latest records from the Andalusian Agency for Foreign Promotion (Extenda) reveal a projected turnover of nearly 557 million euros by 2025, supported by exports to regions such as the Middle East, among others, which continue to increase.

Pedro Béjar: “Outside Spain, the brand’s dresses are perceived as works suitable for shows or parties”

Pedro Béjar embracing The Countess in the backstage of his Vulnerable collection presentation at We Love Flamenco
Pedro Béjar embracing The Countess in the backstage of the presentation of his Vulnerable collection at We Love Flamenco Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer

Designer Pedro Béjar —who chose the Dutch drag queen The Countess to conclude the presentation of his “Vulnerable” collection at the most recent edition of We Love Flamenco— points out that internationally his dresses are highly valued for special occasions and shows.

Pedro Béjar's Vulnerable Collection at We Love Flamenco.
The Countess at the presentation of Pedro Béjar’s Vulnerable Collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.

Since its inception, the brand has been characterised by the combination of innovation and tradition inspired by its roots. Béjar also tells FashionUnited that his passion for flamenco fashion is largely inspired by the image of the traditional flamenco singer. Flamenco fashion currently constitutes the majority of the company’s revenue.

The designs are primarily distributed through appointments made in the centre of Seville and Instagram, a platform where the brand has found an effective means to promote and sell its creations. Although mainly remaining in Southern Spain (with Seville and Jaén as its star provinces), they also travel each year to international destinations such as Dubai, Qatar, Mexico, and New Zealand.

Pedro Béjar's Vulnerable Collection at We Love Flamenco.
Pedro Béjar’s Vulnerable Collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer

Johanna Calderón: “The United Arab Emirates is a significant sales point as the ‘Made In Spain’ is highly valued”

Johanna Calderón has identified specific opportunities in other countries, such as in the United Arab Emirates, where she says the “Made In Spain” is highly valued. Her focus on flamenco fashion, but not limiting herself to the flamenco dress, has facilitated the internationalisation of her designs to the United States, Latin America, Asia, and Australia.

Lorena Durán at the presentation of Johanna Calderón's Fernando Collection at We Love Flamenco
Lorena Durán at the presentation of Johanna Calderón’s Fernando Collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer

At We Love Flamenco, the designer advocated for granting the flamenco dress the status of a work of art, welcoming attendees of her show with various models dressed in flamenco attire on podiums inspired by those used in museums.

Johanna Calderón's Fernando Collection at We Love Flamenco.
Johanna Calderón’s Fernando Collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.

The show then unfolded as a succession of flamenco-inspired looks with which she paid tribute to her family.

Johanna Calderón's Fernando Collection at We Love Flamenco.
Johanna Calderón’s Fernando Collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.

The question is not how much it costs, but how much you are willing to pay

Custom designs have no price limit, as they depend on factors such as fabrics, patterns, hours of handwork, and fittings, Johanna explained to FashionUnited.

With two of her own stores, one in Madrid and another in Seville, Johanna Calderón, who started with just a collection of five flamenco dresses, now also attends by appointment in London. There, she has established solid relationships with clients from the city and plans to expand further with new points of sale.

As her business grew, she received requests to design wedding dresses, leading her to gradually expand into other categories, “always respecting the exclusivity” of her clients. Currently, the bridal line constitutes a significant portion of the turnover and is the one that excites her the most, she tells FashionUnited.

Johanna Calderón at the end of her Fernando collection show at We Love Flamenco.
Johanna Calderón at the end of her Fernando collection show at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer

Carmen Acedo: “As a specific opportunity in other countries, I would say flamenco dancers and dance companies, from countries like Korea”

Carmen Acedo, who started in the world of flamenco fashion influenced by her mother, a dressmaker in the village, estimates that her dresses are priced between 400 and 900 euros.

Her workshop is located in Triana, Seville, and from there she distributes her collections through multi-brand stores in various Spanish cities such as Andújar, Almería, Jaén, Málaga, and Sanlúcar.

Although the distribution of her collections extends beyond Spanish borders, with a presence in international markets like Korea, New York, and Mexico, thanks to flamenco dancers and dance companies who know no boundaries of Andalusia.

Carmen Acedo backstage at the presentation of her Carmen de España collection.
Carmen Acedo backstage at the presentation of her Carmen de España collection. Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer

Over the years, the designer has evolved in the industry, maintaining tradition in her designs while simultaneously integrating innovation. The basis of her creations has always centred on traditional flamenco fashion, ensuring that her dresses are timeless.

Carmen Acedo's Carmen de España collection at We Love Flamenco.
Carmen Acedo’s Carmen de España collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.
Carmen Acedo's Carmen de España collection at We Love Flamenco.
Carmen Acedo’s Carmen de España collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.

Regarding the evolution of flamenco fashion in general, Carmen Acedo says that as fashions change, the styles of the dresses vary, but comfort has become a priority for women dressing in flamenco attire.

From her perspective, she highlights the importance of events like We Love Flamenco as an invaluable showcase to boost sales and the visibility of her brand. However, she also advocates for more support from public administrations to promote and highlight the flamenco fashion sector.

“I believe public administrations should support these types of initiatives more to give greater visibility to the flamenco fashion sector.”

Carmen Acedo, flamenco fashion designer

In the case of We Love Flamenco, the participation of Municipalities and Provincial Councils is limited to institutional collaboration in exchange for visibility and promotion as consideration.

Its most direct competitor, SIMOF, organised by the communication agency Doble Erre and which took over by celebrating its International Flamenco Fashion Week at Fibes (the Seville Congress Palace), does indeed have public funding.

Mónica Méndez: “My typical client has a medium-high profile, seeking comfortable dresses that are neither excessive nor 100 percent traditional”

Mónica Méndez at the end of her Rame collection show at We Love Flamenco.
Mónica Méndez at the end of her Rame collection show at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer

Also with a clear focus on Andalusian tradition and flamenco fashion, Mónica Méndez Gómez has built a successful business that encompasses both flamenco fashion and occasionwear, a diversification motivated by the changing needs of her clients.

After more than twenty years in the industry, Mónica Méndez emphasizes the importance of innovating in patterns and fabrics without losing the fundamental essence of flamenco fashion.

Mónica Méndez's Rame collection at We Love Flamenco.
Mónica Méndez’s Rame collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.
Mónica Méndez's Rame collection at We Love Flamenco.
Mónica Méndez’s Rame collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Aníbal González, photographer.

In addressing the current challenges of flamenco fashion, Mónica Méndez points out the growing competition among designers, although she highlights an increase in the demand for these dresses. Her typical clientele is described as having a medium-high profile, seeking comfortable and elegant dresses that are not overly traditional.

Mónica Méndez's Rame collection at We Love Flamenco.
Mónica Méndez’s Rame collection at We Love Flamenco. Credits: Silvia Sánchez, photographer

In terms of profitability, traditional flamenco dresses are the most successful for the brand. Mónica Méndez confirms that it is feasible to live exclusively off flamenco fashion, as the season extends until October and social media has further expanded its reach.

The brand has opted for a local strategy, being present exclusively in Spain. It has its own atelier located in Alcalá de Guadaíra, Seville, where customers can enjoy a direct shopping experience. In addition, they participate in various showrooms, like the one they have planned for the pilgrimage season in Cartaya, Lepe, and the Huelva area.

For Mónica Méndez, events like “We Love Flamenco” are crucial for boosting sales and brand visibility, marking the start of the season and providing the necessary brand-level visibility.

FashionUnited was invited to attend by the event organisers.

This article was originally published on FashionUnited.ES. Translation and edit from Spanish into English by Veerle Versteeg.

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