“It all starts with a story,” says Andreas Aresti over a Zoom call from New York. As the founder and designer of his own fashion brand, Lourdes, narrative is important to him at all stages of creation. His story starts with his parents
Aresti was born to immigrant parents in Queens, New York. His father is Greek-Cypriot and his mother, after whom the brand is named, is from Peru. The heady mix of cultures that the borough provides has always been central to his design ethos: “That’s the starting point of all this,” he says. “My aesthetic is my experience.”
All of these influences converged in his first Lourdes collection Niagara Falls named after a photo of his parents in front of the natural attraction on one of their very first dates. Aresti remembers the way his parents would mix clothing, sharing each other’s jackets or tying pieces around their bodies in new and interesting ways. These reference points became integral sources of early inspiration.
One of his first Lourdes designs was a dress made out of a jacket, that can be worn as either. It felt like a direct homage to the way he watched his mother wear clothes. “There's a lot more philosophical things that I've taken from my parents,” he said. “But the starting point of my design journey is my parents, my family.”
Aresti describes his background in fashion as “bizarre.” He never went to school to study design, but instead was first exposed to a sewing machine by his mom, who taught him the mechanics of the trade. His early experiments led him to a friend of a friend who helmed Gypsy Sport (“At the time they were just making hats”) where Aresti ushered in the brand’s first apparel collection.
This early collaboration launched Aresti onto a career path that saw him working with a veritable grab bag of fashion movers and shakers as he flitted between the worlds of streetwear and luxury and back again. From Gypsy Sport, Aresti went on to work with Nicola Formichetti, Tim Coppens, Stefano Pilati, and even Kanye West as a stylist and designer for Yeezy.
“When you work for people and you have different mentors, you take a bit of them and it kind of gives you your own identity,” said Aresti. It’s this specific melange of influences that helped define the creative DNA of Lourdes. “Ultimately, I think my journey is to erase the boxes,” he said. “For me, the design process is meant to be a mysterious one, a journey where you don't know where you're going to end up.”
Aresti was working on designs for Shayne Oliver’s Hood by Air reboot when the idea to start his own line was floated by him. He wondered if it was the right moment to strike out on his own. “"Is 10 years enough experience?” He wondered to himself. “I just didn't know. But the apple was so juicy, dangling in front of me that I couldn't deny the opportunity to myself.”
Lourdes was started as Aresti’s answer to an American luxury brand, and a New York City one at that. He longed for the days of Ralph Lauren and Halston when the city was a hub for creative continental expression. “Why are there no luxury American brands?” he asked me. “Why is there no American Mugler? Why isn’t there an American version of Jacquemus?”"
The amalgam of his experiences working with both acclaimed streetwear and luxury designers primed him to fill that gap. With Lourdes, Aresti set out to fuse his experiences across the fashion world into something that felt uniquely positioned. Take, for example, his multi pocketed pants. Here Aresti adorns a simple silhouette with a column of pockets that start at the waistband and finish at the hem. They straddle utility and absurdity in a way that makes them hard to look away from.
Lourdes launched just right before the onset of the pandemic yet Aresti keeps designing with his trademark abandon. His rolodex of inspiration is plentiful and he cites Gordon Gekko, cowboy culture and Americana as recent jumping off points. But more than anything, he knows that when it comes to references, he’s sometimes chasing something a bit bigger.
“I don't know if it's because Kanye and Stefano were older and obviously more acclaimed,” he remembers two of his most formative mentors. “But in my experiences with those two guys it was never about the clothing. It was always about the message. It was always about the attitude. It was always about the tone.”
It’s still always going to come back to his parents—Lourdes takes its name from his mom, after all. It’s important for him to retain the original DNA that he baked into the brand’s foundation, even as the brand grows and takes new shape. “I'm very left and right at the same time. So I like to try to infuse everything all into one.”