It is very difficult for any fashion designer to have an organically original vision of what they hope to create for the world; and even more difficult when they live in the land famously known as the fashion capital of the world– New York City. In a city that houses thousands of aspiring designers all vying for recognition and exposure in an industry that favors the rich, very few have the talent, vision, and determination to take on the fashion world as an independent creative. Sandra Gagalo’s line SAGA NYC takes on a new angle that will have you rooting for her to succeed in this cutthroat world. Infused with intergenerational creativity, her line provides a point of view so unique, that you will need to leave your preconceptions about what is “normal” at the door. It is time to have an open mind.
Upon meeting Sandra, one immediately picks up on her distinctive energy. On a very human quest, she endeavors to find similar-minded people to connect with.
“I wanted to touch on the connection to something greater than the ‘I’ here right now. I'm really interested in parallel realities; infinite worlds in which I exist simultaneously in the multiverse.” Gagalo is a child of the universe that refuses to be limited by the physical confines of our world.
Most artists struggle with finding the balance between what is creative and what is attainable. It is a dilemma that has helped birth the ‘struggling artist’ stereotype.
“It’s so hard to manage everything, you know? Paying all your bills, living life in society, money. Especially with fashion brands you need a lot of money. To be able to harmonize all of that is my biggest obstacle right now— to be able to be as creative as I want, while still making life happen. It’s a big challenge for me. I was starting to get disconnected from reality, and focused on society-structured life for a while but I lost my spiritual self and hit rock bottom. So I have to find the right balance for my brand to evolve and for me to be happy with everything. It’s an ongoing process. I think it will always be an ongoing process.”
SAGA NYC showcased at the Brooklyn Museum for VERGE: Queer New York Fashion Week. Each model had their own identity and recognizable personality— an approach quite uncommon in productions by established designers during industry-backed New York Fashion Week events. Gagalo believes that it is our duty to push the boundaries of what beauty is and can be.
“I do think that gender roles hold people back. It’s a really hard subject, right? But it’s really nice to see organizations that support the gender spectrum and non-conformity. It’s nice to see that it’s shifting and to see support for the unconventional. We’re all people and we should all be treated equally. People should be able to choose how beauty suits them. People should explore their femininity and masculinity, however they choose to be. Imagine a world where boys and men grew up speaking about their feelings? Imagine if women and girls weren’t being put down and told to be meek? It must be really tough to live up to those expectations of having to be an alpha male and a delicate female. I think it will take some time before people can stop pushing gender roles and just let people be people”.
When asked if letting people be people is the next step in human evolution, Sandra agreed. “That makes sense right? Allowing people to explore what it means to be human is the next step towards a compassionate society. If kids are brought up with an open mind and allowed to be free, the next generation will be so much different. The world can be a happier place. But it has to happen naturally”.
As an independent designer, Sandra understands the politics of the fashion industry. “It’s so expensive to produce a collection in the first place, let alone in New York. I feel like I have to do so much more than established designers, which can be very exhausting. But I want to be an example of a self-made success. I’m proud to make my collection where I’m from. I’m proud to say that SAGA NYC is made in New York.”
This past fall season, Sandra released her second full collection, SPIRIT. Featuring futuristic, genderless fashions with multifaceted functions, SPIRIT has a timeless aesthetic that has the potential to last decades in the market given the right platform and exposure.
“SPIRIT was a collection inspired by the concept of the Higher Self. I thought about the person/customer that is always interested in seeking higher consciousness. SPIRIT is all about the connection to who you truly are and where you came from. I needed a practical collection that I could imagine an inter-dimensional traveler wearing. The collection doesn't overpower the wearer with fashion and is easy to wear and intellectual in design. It's modern and minimalistic, with that subtle sci-fi vibe. SPIRIT is what I connect to when I'm designing”.
With a clear mission in sight and an ‘into the future’ approach to designing, where does Gagalo see her fashion going?
“I see my designs evolving more and more towards showing an eccentric personality. Right now everything is like a blank canvas. We need simplicity in our lives right now. Clothing in stores ranges in so many styles that it's become a burden to get dressed in the morning for many of us. What I'm creating now is pieces that can make the getting dressed process simpler and easier with much room for customizing and adding your own personality to the clothing. I am encouraging people to develop themselves on every level. However, as I progress over time I will want to explore more creative freedom. I will want to paint onto the canvas as well!”
A beautiful mind, an open heart, a strong fire of determination, and a compassion for life; Sandra Gagalo has found the right frequency that has allowed her to be herself and create something she is not only proud of, but loves. Keep an eye out for SAGA NYC, a clothing line that is individual to the core.