In Sebastian Curi’s new Zara collection, colour is more functional than decorative

“The scale of it was frightening”: the illustrator and animator divulges on his first time designing a global clothing line and the radically different process it entails.

9 August 2022

Zara Man’s newest summer collection is called: What color is the color of the sky? The title is plucked from a long list of notes in Sebastian Curi’s phone – the artist behind the project – where he keeps ideas for artwork titles after a long period of producing untitled paintings, mostly of hands, one of his signatures. “‘What colour is the colour of the sky’” is something that I read somewhere but I don’t know where,” he tells It’s Nice That. While the origins of the clothing line’s title might remain a mystery, it does point to a crucial aspect of the collection – colour.

What color is awash with bright primary hues, but the illustrator says that their presence serves a functional purpose, rather than a decorative one. “Vibrant colours are the ones that are the most stimulating and that lead to a deeper conversation with the observer.” Even in the Zara collection, where the colours are undoubtedly ‘pretty’, Sebastian wants the items “to be confrontational in some way. Scale is one way to do that,” he says. Bold and expansive, the collection is not short of the latter either.

Consisting of ten garments including five t-shirts, a bucket hat, shorts, a matching sweatshirt, a bowling shirt, silk bandana and socks, the range will be rolled out across a site that gets 12,000,000 site views a day. Zara, after all, is a major player in the fast fashion market – despite accusations of greenwashing, it’s growing rapidly – in the first quarter of 2022, Inditex (owner of Zara) reported revenue growth of 36 per cent to €6.74 billion. The What color collection is manufactured under Zara’s Join Life standards, an initiative by the manufacturer to use more sustainable materials.

The items in the summer line feature some of Sebastian’s most classic motifs – namely hands, but also simple shapes and “a scared cat”. Landing on these designs was a lengthy undertaking. “I drew more than 200 sketches and painted something like 50 artworks on the computer,” Sebastian reveals. “And then painted some of them on canvases so I could see them in space at scale.” Sebastian also utilises a fascinating range of mediums for the project, including acrylic paintings, line studies, digital sketches, and charcoal drawings. “A lot of pencil and paper,” he confirms.

While Sebastian has worked on some T-shirts in the past, it was “nothing” compared to the scale and weight of this project – something which “felt a bit heavy at first too.” It took “falling in love” with the process and embracing the specific challenges involved to overcome this hurdle. On what an illustrator has to keep in mind when designing for clothing, Sebastian says: “The artworks are positioned in a very similar way in which I’ve designed them, but every garment is slightly different due to what it involves to produce this volume in real life. Also, how the fabric folds, its wrinkles, how the light hits it. All of these factors change it all.”

The final collection, currently available on the Zara site, “intends to be simple and fun,” the artist concludes. “The artworks carry a lightness and contagious positivity” true to Sebastian’s always stimulating output.

GallerySebastian Curi: Zara Man: What Color is the Color of the sky? (Copyright © Zara, 2022)

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Sebastian Curi: Zara Man: What Color is the Color of the sky? (Copyright © Zara, 2022)

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About the Author

Liz Gorny

Liz (she/they) joined It’s Nice That as news writer in December 2021. In January 2023, they became associate editor, predominantly working on partnership projects and contributing long-form pieces to It’s Nice That. Contact them about potential partnerships or story leads.

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