Ximena Valero is all about the beauty of transformation — personal and professional — and her independent clothing lines literally reflect that. She invented transformable fashion: comfortable, sexy, dramatic garments meant to be worn multiple ways. Her commitment to downtown Los Angeles as the place to launch her business nine years ago also was about transformation — of the fashion industry.
She attended the Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising in San Diego, then worked with Victoria's Secret and modeling agent John Casablancas in New York. When it was time to open her own doors, she came back West. “We entertain the world here!” she enthuses. “And you know Tom Ford and Dior, they've been making news by debuting new lines here instead of New York or London. There's real momentum embracing L.A. as the center of the fashion industry. We have the textiles, the manufacturing, the celebrities — and we have Mexico!”
Mexico is a constant inspiration to Valero. She was born 37 years ago in Mexico City, and her mother was her greatest and earliest champion. “She enrolled me in sewing classes when I was 9; art, drawing and music, too.” Valero soon discovered that she “really liked making stuff, getting my hands dirty,” and she traces the roots of her career to those summer courses.
Describing intuitive visual connections and a love of texture, pattern and color, Valero sounds more like a painter or sculptor than a clothing designer. “I wanted to be a graphic designer at one time,” she says, “but it was a very popular field and I wanted to be different. Why be the same?”
That's a good question, and it's kind of her motto. The impulse to break rules and set rather than follow trends is also how her Transformable Fashion line came to be. In San Diego, she and friends had a photo studio and make-over business. “I was the stylist,” she recalls, “and I was running out of clothes. So I repurposed what we had. Then I thought, what if I made original designs with that transformability in mind?”
This risktaking and curiosity made her an early adopter of Internet technology. “Oh! The Internet is my best friend! I had email in 1992 and started uploading images,” leading to sales, creative collaborations and shows all over the world. “With the Internet today, there's no excuse for not having a platform.”
Valero will release her fall/winter 2015 line via web video rather than runway show, and her own site is suitably interactive. For example, she and her swimwear line partner, Monique Deptula, answer questions on the blog. Deptula explains, “We give advice for different body types, and how to transform garments into new and exciting styles — but also we speak about women-owned businesses, ambition and entrepreneurship.”
To that end, they're currently filming a web series chronicling their experiences. Details are still under wraps but Valero will say this: “Like everything we do, it's about making something out of nothing. Our wish is to help other women see that anything is possible.”