Designers always demanded themselves what identity is and what they can communicate with the art of clothing and drawings collections. Every year, we are invaded by too many concepts and garments; but, in this immense ocean, there are always some exceptions. Interesting exceptions. Joao is one of them: even if his research is about identity and understanding who the alienated modern man can be, he does it with the help of clubbing. In his first collection, clubbing is an important part of the process of discovering of our identity, learning about us, our passions, love, interests and so on. João designed a norm core collection with the luxury of leather and the influence by berlin clubbing scene and punk scene of chains and brooches. We ask him some questions about his life and work.

I want to start the interview with a question that regards the concept of your collection: “who am I?” So, who is Joao? And how much of him is in his works?


That’s the questing that the whole concept is about. Not knowing who we are and trying to find our identity. At the time I didn’t know who was João, so I created blackout to tell the story of the search for my identity and purpose. My work is always very personal, I use a lot of personal experiences to gather inspiration and references to put together concepts, therefore there is a lot of me in it.

Do you think nowadays clothes define who we are?


I believe that what you choose to wear tells a lot about you. It can tell about your taste, lifestyle, status, emotions, health, etc. But I also think that if you are aware of this you can play with your image to be whoever you want to be. So ultimately, clothes define the way we want society to perceive us.


With the advent of fast fashion world gives less attention to fabric, something that you did with the use of leather. Is the research of the perfect fabric still important for communicate something?


Of course. Fabric / material is the primary ingredient to make a piece of clothing, it’s what brings an idea into the physical world. That’s why is very important to choose the right materials that express your concept fully. Personally, I chose the Dr. Martens leather boots because they go accordingly to my references and they transmit a sense of empowerment to who wears them.

Clubbing is represented in this collection as a way to escape from reality. Do you think clubbing is an important experience in the personal formation of our identity?


Definitely! You can discover a lot about yourself through clubbing. It’s a great way to express ourselves without inhibitions, to meet new people, to push our limits and to be free from our demons. Sometimes you have to lose yourself in order to find yourself.

What parts of clubbing have you taken as inspiration? I see a lot of the Berlin clubbing scene here.


I’ve taken inspiration from the 90’s underground rave scene aesthetics, but also from today’s clubbing lifestyle. You are in a car going home (or to an after party) after the club and you forget to put the seat belt so I made clothes with actual seat belts, you are always asking for a lighter because you keep loosing yours so I made pockets for lighters in sweaters and hoodies, the clothes are very oversize so can easily hide bottles in your body. Those are some examples of design choices that came from personal experiences and needs. Also the name Blackout which I believe that is something very relatable for heavy clubbers.


Photography: Rui Palma / Instagram: @ruipalma_

Styling/Production: João Barriga / Instagram: @joao_barriga

Makeup: OhLinda / Instagram: @ohlindamua

Models: Rafael Cavaco, Gustavo Salvador Rebelo, Joana Silva, Telma

Assistance: Diogo Mega


An interview by Andrea Collins