An Interview with the young designer Sofia Ottone, Founder of TOTI

TOTI by Sofia Ottone is a brand who listens to young generations, who admires young people and embrace feelings.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Sean Macleod

TOTI is about creating a community where you can feel identify and be part of it, where the fun and the attitude of not taking things too seriously characterizes it.

TOTI SPRING/SUMMER 2019 – MUFF 

MUFF is a collection that enters a universe where gender does not exist, where we are responsible only for ourselves and where responsibilities are not a constraint. A universe of electric and soft inspired colors that make this place, a place where ecstasy to live exists.

TOTI SS19 – MUFF

AN INTERVIEW with SOFIA OTTONE, Founder and Creative Director of TOTI

TPM: When did you first realize you wanted to become a fashion designer?

Sofia Ottone: It was when my dad worked at a clothing store, I was 8 or 10 years old, he was doing the clothing selection for the mannequins, I was there helping him, I loved to be there, searching for textures and mixing different pieces also seeing my grand mother and mum always sewing things and doing tricot so for me it was always something that i wanted to do.

TPM: When did you land your first internship and what was the most valuable thing you learned from this experience?

Sofia Ottone: My first internship was in September 2017 I did it in Guatemala for a brand called MEÜS, I was there for 4 months and the most valuable thing I learned from the designer was how important the team work is, how important is to believe in our self to achieve things if you are passionate about something don’t be afraid to do it.

TPM: What was your first job out of college, and how did you land that position?

Sofia Ottone: It was in a store making Christmas wrapping, I just went for an interview with a lot of other persons but no one wanted to wrap gifts and I was searching for something crafty.

TPM: Define genderless nowadays in five words .

Sofia Ottone: Equality, Identity, Androginous, Power, Free

TPM: If you could go back and tell yourself one thing before beginning your career what would it be?

Sofia Ottone: Stay you, believe in yourself.

TPM: What was the biggest rookie mistake you made when just starting out?

Sofia Ottone: To make everything last minute. For my first project I was fixing all my piece just minutes before doing the presentation to the juries and one piece of the garment fell off in front of them.

TPM: What is one thing you look at the models for your campaigns?

Sofia Ottone: They have to make me feel something, I don’t search for models, I look for people who have something special, an attitude, a style.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Dominique Somazzi

TPM: What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?

Sofia Ottone: I think social media is the most important thing today, nowadays everyone is on social media, they discover new things in social media, they express themselves in social media, they inspire themselves in social media. Social media is a powerful tool for marketing communication.

TPM: Would you go back to Costa Rica and build a career as a fashion designer?

Sofia Ottone: I don’t know yet, at the moment I will stay in Europe there is a lot to explore here even tough I want to develop my career there one day.

TPM: What is your favorite and NON-favorite part about being part of the fashion industry?

Sofia Ottone: My favorite part is the power that fashion has in people, what I don’t like about it is the barrier that it can’t create between people in terms of social status.

TPM: How do you want people to feel when wearing your clothes?

Sofia Ottone: I want them to feel free, happy to be alive and confident to be who they want to be.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Sean Macleod

TPM: There’s so much pressure for designers to come out with their greatest collection season after season. What do you think a graduate student should have to just starting out and hoping to make it in the industry?

Sofia Ottone: For me you just have to be confident and show what you do with passion an conviction.

TPM: Can you tell us how TOTI makes a different as a brand on European market?

Sofia Ottone: TOTI is a brand who listens to young generations, who admires young people and embrace feelings. TOTI is about creating a community where you can feel identify and be part of.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Dominique Somazzi

TPM: News on the way regarding your next collection?

Sofia Ottone: I will be presenting my next collection in February, so stay tuned.

TPM:  When and where this will happen?

Sofia Ottone: It will happen in Geneva Switzerland at Ipac Design for my bachelor diploma.

TPM: What do you think is the biggest challenge for a fashion designer in Costa Rica?

Sofia Ottone: The biggest challenge is to make us known outside the country.

TPM: Do you believe in fashion film industry?

Sofia Ottone: Yes, fashion film for me it’s what makes each piece special, because you can tell a story,you can transmit a universe a feeling.

TPM: Would you like to submit a fashion film related to TOTI’s mission, in the future, to international fashion film festivals?

Sofia Ottone: Yes, I will like to make a fashion film one day to show what TOTI is.

TPM: There is one important person, in your life, who pushes and motivates you to believe in yourself?

Sofia Ottone: My best friend, we motivate each other in each project that we have, we push ourselves to embrace who we are and to never give up.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Dominique Somazzi

TPM: How do you think a big brand should motivate their collaborators and team members?

Sofia Ottone: I think big brands should pay attention to every person that works there and give people opportunities to express themselves as they want and make them try different things. Sometimes tallent can be found in the most unexpected way and person.

TPM: The best experience in school was… ?

Sofia Ottone: The best thing in school was my classmates, we are like a little family, we support each other and there is no competition.

TPM: How do you think sustainable can play an important role in fashion industry?

Sofia Ottone: Sustainable can change a lot in fashion not only for the designers but also for the consumer and the worker behind all this industry. I think it makes a big change not only for the environment but also for humanity. We should all be aware about the process of how clothes are made.

TPM: Describe us Sofia Ottone as a person and how your feelings influence the creativity process?

Sofia Ottone: Sofia Ottone is a very chill person I don’t know how I control stress so much, I’m also shy with people that don’t know me I don’t open up to everyone, I’m really grateful for life and live it as there is no tomorrow. My feelings are totally involved in my creative process the clothes I make they have to transmit a feeling, for me feelings are what makes us feel alive.

Sofia Ottone, Founder and Creative Director of TOTI

TPM: Would you like to involve other accessories designers in your future projects?

Sofia Ottone: Yes of course I will like to collaborate with other designers and also learn new techniques.

TPM: What do you think is the main mission of the CO-BRANDING concept ?

Sofia Ottone: The main mission is to reunite talents, reunite creative worlds that can make one big project, if we stay alone in our own creative bubble I think we are closing so many doors and opportunities.

TPM: How much your experience in fashion school helps you in your career?

Sofia Ottone: It helps me a lot because before that I didn’t know all the aspects that fashion involves.

TPM: There are governmental institutions from Costa Rica that can help more your brand? Can you list us these institutions and how they can help more?

Sofia Ottone: No, unfortunately there is not a governmental institutions, you have to be completely independent and make your place.

TPM: How fashion PR agencies can help more the brands and what skills a good fashion PR should have in your opinion?

Sofia Ottone: They can help the brands by supporting new designers and appreciate their work, by being interested in them and promote them as they listen to them and ask them what direction they want to take. A good fashion PR should have a good heart and passion to help brands and walk with them in the process.

TPM: What’s next for you? What are your short-term goals?

Sofia Ottone: Well right know my goal is to have my bachelor diploma and then hopefully continue with TOTI.

TPM: What designers inspire you and why?

Sofia Ottone: I think it will be Sofia Contreras Paredes because she has really great values that marked me the fact the she started as a new young designer and did it with passion and dedication all by her self, it really gave me hope on doing what I want to do.

Another one will be Charles Jeffrey the way he express him self trough fashion and all the universe he has. I love it.

TPM: How would describe fast fashion nowadays and how this can damage the industry right now?

Sofia Ottone: Fast fashion is an easy way to be «in trend», these industries produce so much clothing in such a short time and accessible prices that it’s now difficult as a designer for our work to be recognized.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Sean Macleod

TPM: There is anyone special who would like to meet in person?

Sofia Ottone: I would loved to meet David Bowie.

TPM: What do you think about the opportunity of selling your collections online nowadays?

Sofia Ottone: I think it’s a big opportunity since it can reach a lot of people all over the world even though the experience of going to a shop it’s kind of lost.

TOTI SS19 | Photo: Sean Macleod