FIDM Instructor Produces Masks in Support of Trans Black Lives Matter
When the CDC advised Americans to make their own face coverings, FIDM Instructor and Alumnus Miguel Barragan heeded the call. He has been making masks and contributing to the Trans Black Lives Matter movement since the beginning of the pandemic and is now locally producing over 1,000 masks per week. Miguel graduated from FIDM with his Merchandise Product Development degree in 2008, teaches Brand Portfolio (MPDV 2580) every quarter, and has degrees in Literature and History from UC Riverside. We caught up with the talented designer to learn more about his journey.
Tell us a little about yourself: In addition to teaching at FIDM, for the past 12 years I have made a career as a Creative Director in the lingerie and intimate apparel industry. Earlier this year I was laid off my job as a Creative Director due to the economic shift that occurred as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown. I quickly and immediately reacted to making face masks when the CDC advised Americans to make their own face coverings. With limited supplies and only a Singer sewing machine, I deconstructed and reconstructed old jeans and t-shirts to create a batch of face masks for friends and family. I was posting images of my masks on Instagram, and the demand started to pour in. Within days there were a plethora of requests for masks, more than I could solely sew on my own. That is when I decided to use my product development skills! I reached out to my network of colleagues and began to source top tier quality fabrics and trims, and hire couture seamstresses so that we could start producing masks in bulk. I went from making six masks a day to currently producing over 1,000 per week!
The events that followed the murder of George Floyd could not be ignored. I wanted to contribute to the monumental Black Lives Matter movement. That is when it occurred to me that I could make a mask design with a political statement. I created a face mask with an embroidered image of The Raised Fist, which is a symbol of solidarity and support. The proceeds from the mask are being donated to Trans Black Lives Matter.
The past couple weeks have been extremely rewarding. I have been able to locally produce a product that is helping to keep people safe from the pandemic we are experiencing, add a bit of fashion flare, AND make a political statement! I recently launched my online shop where you can see all of my designs. This has all been a grassroots effort, and it has become popular through word-of-mouth.
I am also producing private label masks, for companies to supply to their employees. And I have a wholesale catalog for shops that would like to carry my product. In the next couple weeks I will be launching new products in addition to the face mask, stay tuned! I am very excited to see how this further develops and adapts to these ever changing times.
Describe your teaching philosophy: I value community and I try to create an atmosphere where everyone has the opportunity to contribute as a student, teach, or designer. I also attempt to lead by example, and as a Creative Director, I show my students my personal work outside of the classroom, and how I have applied the the skills that are taught in my class to the real world.
We're in the middle of a pandemic and a cultural movement. How do you see this affecting the fashion industry and what opportunities and positive shifts do you see on the horizon as a result? As designers and creatives in the fashion world, we have the PRIVILEGE of designing a "new tomorrow." We have the responsibility and an opportunity designing a world with diversity and morals. I am excited to see new leadership and see new products and marketing campaigns that include and represent a diverse America.
What is your biggest goal right now? Make as many masks as possible to keep people safe from COVID-19. Continue fundraising for Trans Black Lives Matter!
Keep up with Miguel Barragan at MiguelMiguelShop.com and on Instagram @migueljbarragan and @miguelmiguelshop.