Graziela Sousa

fast, digital & personal


Hello from a new year!

Despite this sort of crazy beginning, let’s all try and make it a good one, in our life at least, shall we?

Well, being a fashion news’ worm, it’s sort of predictable hat I am fascinated by the Global Fashion report that Business of Fashion have put together with McKinsey, and can’t really believe I haven’t come across it sooner. Lately I’m really into this sort of contrasts that the fashion industry keeps showing off:

_while there’s a great push towards digital and online presence: AI, VR, Automation, fast/immediate acquisition – like see now buy now or Alibaba’s Pay by Nod, – and this is fascinating, it’s Blade Runner/Matrix all coming to our fashion and consumer’s lives;

_there’s also a push towards what is personal and tailored and specially crafted, even made by the same companies – e.g. Burberry made their SNBN revolution but also opened up a concept store in London which celebrated craftsmanship.

And this wonderful contrast is something that will definitely set a tone for the upcoming years of the industry and will be on one hand what the consumers, specially Millennials, desire (not sure if it’s about their needs) and on the other what will drive companies to change, develop and evolve in several sectors: production, distribution and marketing, keeping in mind the needs of their audiences and also the hugely difficult combination of making it still personal. Which will surely be attained through data analytics and also some psycho-sociological, experiential approaches that might guarantee consumer satisfaction – by pleasing and making them as special as they Need, Want or Desire.

a woman and (her) clothes


I just started reading Women in Clothes, a book my friend Joana (one of the most interesting women I have ever met) was kind enough to lent me.
I went to bed early just to start reading, and as I did I started having goosebumps and laughing loudly, it is all about all of us women – about getting dressed! And it was so inspiring I didn’t feel like finishing this day without writing.

I was wondering about I was dressed, of course, realizing I sleep almost every night with wool jumpers that belonged to my late father, I had a polka dot tank top underneath, some sexy (no, not at all, I’m joking) pajama trousers in the color red and a very warm pair of socks. My hair was tied in a bun because it’s way more comfortable than to have it falling over my eyes. My favorite earrings were also on, they always sleep with me, as well as my ear lobe piercing.
There is a bit of shame while I write my infamous ‘how I dressed to sleep yesterday’ but there’s also so much truth in it: it’s ME. The real ME, in my most comfortable and selfless self.
And although I would guess there was no thought put into that particular way and moment of dressing, actually there was – accidentally or not, I’ve been taking memories to sleep, surrounding myself with them for years, maybe because I have voids to fill and need to get reminded of the ones that I love, the ones that love me and look after me.

There is meaning in everything we wear. Just think about it, right now.
And let me know.

words from last week #2


I’ve been dwelling on a few reads about online vs. offline experiences.

Given our industry’s rapid/ever-changing pace, it is quite often said that the future of the industry is online. True fact, everybody is buying more and more from online shops, specially Millennials, with social media transforming radically the way we get to desire, look for and acquire our new garments. There are also many opportunities opening up thanks to the world wide web since it is enabling sharing, renting and even creating under new and unprecedented paradigms – like Chic by Choice and Awaytomars are doing.

But as soon as you think of it or discuss it there’s always someone pointing out the tactile character of fashion and clothes, the importance of trying on stuff and of course, the full experience of retail. So as I was doing my daily reading routine (btw I’ve now added Racked, Loose Threads and Quartz to my long term relationship with Fashion REDEF and The Business of Fashion), I came by this one which excited me particularly – it offered a great insight about how online business are migrating into offline without trouble and, more interestingly, with many advantages given their background.

It is of course of great pride that I mention the fact that Farfetch (founded by the Portuguese entrepreneur José Neves)  is actually doing something pertinent on the other side, which is saving traditional boutiques by making their products available online, not to make them just online businesses but in order to build a global marketplace keeping physical stores open and profitable. I’ve also become quite excited with this post about the Secret Catalog which brings small brands/designers to your place in a printed catalogue just like the old days of La Redoute, as many other European girls in their 30’s (like me) might recall and relate.


All this pieces also made me reflect about  my experience as a producer of Pop-Ups for our students at FA-ULisboa: I’ve produced two editions of this event, regarding it as a way of promoting the school and the students while having a professional approach to the challenges of the fashion design industry and a learning experience at the same time. But the importance of Pop-Ups goes way beyond schools and students/emerging designers, reinforced by Melissa Gonzalez’s (from the Lion’esque Group) talk at the American Fashion Podcast, it is important to underline that Pop-Ups are a growing and pertinent trend for many industries, specially fashion – they offer a brilliant opportunity for brands (fashion or not, new or established) to showcase products among new places and audiences, something specially thrilling for online businesses, either as a marketing/PR strategy either as a way to attract new costumers, recognition and profit of course.

I’d say fashion will always need the personal experience: hands-on, while fitting, touching, smelling and feeling the products, so I guess to sum up this insights I’d just go back to the 80’s and go along with it…

Is it getting PHYSICAL again?


Words from Last Week #1


With such an overflow of information from last week, and every week actually, I decided to make a little summary of the reads I found most interesting as a way to train my synthesizing abilities and an effort to connect a few dots from different sources.

3 Fashion Start Ups Tapping Tough Categories, highlighted the fact that success might be in the special things you can deliver to consumers – sizing, special occasions, universal design – it comes clear that addressing people’s needs and listening closely to your friends’ desires, and the problems they find in their fashion choices and consumption – everyone matters and an innovative business might be hidden in the niches.

Once again got amazed by the work of the BF+DA, Debera Johnson is a voice to be heard about incubating fashion businesses, she reinforces that it is crucial to have a sustainable approach and to deliver the proper resources/advice regarding scalability, local production, technology and innovation.

Given my curiosity about millennials as an educator, this article about beauty products and their marketing issues towards Gen X’rs made me wonder about what we should consider while catering to certain audiences and therefore, possibly shoving a few others away. I also related it to this interesting discussion about beauty standards, sizes and a general need to democratize the images that fashion is producing – while accompanying the fact that social media is in fact (thanks to the Millennial generation) showing who are the real people, not photoshopped, not skinny, not white, not ‘idealized’.

And last but not least the launch of the wonderful John Sterner brand by the fascinating mind of mr. Stutterheim – I’ve been watching the process through his IG account and I love to tes

timony the success and all the correctedness of the whole thing: refugee knitters, following the path of our product from sheep to sweater/tag. It’s what we’re all aiming for. And he DID it!


Of course, as a woman (and a person), it is impossible not to mention Michele Obama’s speech about Trump’s latest scandal and express my support to Amal Clooney who did not have a tantrum. It’s still a man’s world, and it will get a scary one, if the American people elects a man who says such things.

The word in my mind to wrap it up… DEMOCRACY: everyone has its place in a free globalized world and let’s keep it and grow it that way!


street art image. Montmartre, Paris. 2016

clothes matter #1


Today I decided to try a different tone on the blog. I named this category ‘Clothes Matter’ and it’s supposed to be about special pieces and their meaning.

Every single piece we wear, buy or build tell a bit of ourselves and about the way we see the world and position ourselves in it. On Frances Corner’s note on why Fashion Matters, clothes do matter as well! Our clothes tell our stories: one single garment might outlive family members, marriages, homes, life stages, different experiences, mindsets and even generations.

I’m starting with an homage to 2 long time companions that have been with me for more than 10 years: my Converse All Star sneakers.

Bought them with one of my first ever paychecks. They’ve outlived a few relationships, traveled around the world (Vietnam, UK, Germany, Brazil… just to name a few), saw our favorite bands, came to our favorite beaches, went to conferences, taught workshops and classes at the Uni. They also danced ’till morning light and walked me around in difficult times. If only they could tell you about the stuff we did together. They were In, Out and In (fashions) once again, yet I never stopped wearing them. I always felt them like a neutral, comfortable and ok-to-take-everywhere shoe.

One thing I know: can’t put them away. They’re an extension of myself and remind me of a lot of life stories. I do own many shoes, but these are certainly special… special friends!


skill developer


After a few days reading and getting back on track on my research and thesis, I’ve realized something that made a lot of things make sense regarding my research interests and professional options.

I guess I am searching into strategies that help me and others develop intellectually: either professionally or personally since I have this belief that our skills/aptitudes can be developed – either our creative side, either our entrepreneurial/effectuating one.

Many books, specially Csikszentmihalyi’s Creativity, Bohm’s On Creativity and, more recently Gradner’s Five Minds For The Future have given me inspiration and sort of confirmed my beliefs. Also, while reaching this conclusion, I got to renew my vows with the thrill of researching, connecting dots (internal and external ones) and accomplishing the hard-what-was-I-thinking PhD task.

On another auto-biographical note and to give you some context: I did my Master’s dissertation about Creativity in Fashion – Productive Thinking to be more precise, because it describes the moment thinking reaches forward and advances, – then, I decided to move onto the Entrepreneurship theme in my doctoral studies and didn’t really get what connection was there, except for the fact that I felt that the students needed someone to help them out while experiencing the gap between school and professional world.

And the more I think about it, the more I realize I’m deeply motivated to change and evolve everyday and to help others around me to do so as well… kind of a thing to take your teaching/skill-developping mission into personal extents, but as I once put in some post over here: it’s always personal, isn’t it?

there’s HOPE. but think it through!


hey there, long time no see! I had this urge of getting back in track on the blog so here it goes:

_I’m currently exploiting the opportunity to test a few assumptions I’ve been building in the last years while trying to foster innovation and entrepreneurship in an experimental Workshop that’s being delivered to the Fashion Design Master’ students of FA-ULisboa. we are instilling mostly the skills of good research, resource gathering, sharing and the establishment of connections between information so that the students might identify opportunities and generate good ideas for their field – will develop more about this later when I have results (or no results… just plain failure).

also… thanks to fashionREDEF newsletter, yours truly has been becoming a bit more up to date when it comes to ‘what goes on in the fashion industry’. and specially today, mentioning an article from FT with Farfetch’s José Neves and one from ID about Vetements’ Guram Gvasalia’s view on the Future of fashion and fashion businesses – I’d say I just reached a new conclusion on my views or reinforced a few of them at least.

although both these guys are more on a tech and business oriented field, they basically pointed out that clothes and consumption might be becoming as important as all of us designers would dream they can be. Neves talks about quality and small businesses/designers while reinforces his company’s vision and mission. Gvasalia points out that, most of all, he is addressing the things he observes while analyzing the fashion industry, its timings and the way people buy clothes.

today was a wonderful day on the fashion news world: and I could see clearly that there is space to rethink the way we do fashion, the way we promote it, present it and sell it. there’s a market for my students’ ideas, as long as i’m able to make them really THINK about what they can do to change the board they’ll be playing at.

so yes, today I found some hope in these fashion-business giants/innovators words.

isn’t it always personal?



when I started up this (place I call a) blog, I always defended myself saying “i’m doing it because of my research” but as time passes by I realize that I am actually doing it for myself, and the rest is probably collateral.

because if we think clearly about the purpose of our actions, they’re an extension of our personalities, beliefs, hopes and dreams. so yes, this is a personal blog. It has my name on it and all posts are about what I think and feel and want about something – and I could never do any of this if I didn’t put passion and personal drive into it. could I?
I could not be doing a thesis about entrepreneurship if I didn’t see myself as an entrepreneur – maybe one who didn’t lean in that much yet (business-wise), but certainly a go-getter and someone who makes stuff happen and aims pretty high.
I couldn’t be writing about the things I do and believe in if I didn’t love to communicate and connect with people.
and also I wouldn’t ask questions and feel uncertain of every little thing I say if I weren’t a bit demanding and self-conscious.

isn’t everything we do autobiographical? shouldn’t it be this way?
because if you put your passion into it, you will certainly motivate others with your purpose and drive. you will certainly be overcoming your own insecurities and earning a few new ones – and that’s evolving, that’s challenging oneself.

the reasons for this post? this article at HBR about TOMS founder and the book he advised and I immediately started reading: start with why.

in the NOW


well looks like it’s a new year! and with a new date on the calendar came a few questions regarding change and innovation.

i was reading this super interesting article at Forbes about how the digital take-over and social media have become such an interesting and urging topic in the field of fashion: design, business, promotion, sales – it’s all coming to one question “can i get it… NOW?”

_first there was desire and secrecy – only the selected few went to fashion shows, no sharing so no way of knowing what would come up to stores six months later, then people copied (with the proper delay) those wonderful trends, colors and shapes.
_then came fast fashion. story goes, Zara started sending “spies” to shows, who then would copy what they saw, produced and put it in stores before the brands could blink an eye.
_what about NOW? shows became huge successes on Instagram and Snapchat, they also became major events – compared to rock concerts – and not just for professionals and celebrities. people can see the shows wearing Pj’s at home and sometimes buy a few items as they watch them go through the runway. this interactive, now-trend is turning tables and making fashion weeks question about what to do and where to focus, as brands need to sort how to keep up interest and boost sales while maximizing the advantage of web-democratization.

this will certainly demand for different and new ways of working and connecting to consumers and viewers – something that might prove itself quite expensive for the small brands and upcoming designers.
but on the other hand, we can also regard this as an opportunity:

_everyone has a smartphone and is building up their social media, in some way, so maybe there might be a few interesting and fun ways to promote one’s work without having to leave the studio or invest too much on lookbooks, advertisement and PR work – check what Molly Goddard did, for example.

_if people are demanding their clothes in the now, that might also mean that they’re starting to appreciate exclusivity and uniqueness, which might account for what Li Edelkoort said about clothes becoming more personal than ever before and might come in handy for those interested in working/experimenting with crafts like knitters, weavers et al – making space for their products to reach a bigger audience through social media and online selling platforms like

_this new possibilities also urge for new ways of doing business in the fashion industry – so one can work on the studio one-off side of it, one can come up with different and new business models that will cater to these consumers while making it possible to invest as one goes and might avoid for too much sampling and stocking up, there are A LOT of possibilities – it’s about combining your creative and artistic features, showing off what you do, get attention and delivering your products… NOW.

So, I’d say, there’s hope and opportunity in this digital-now thing that is going on, and if I might add, it might also contribute to a change in mindset since the products can start to become more appreciated, and features like who made them and how they were made can turn out to be some of the most important for, at least, some consumers.

or maybe this is plain wishful thinking. we’ll see.

the importance of being back


well, I’m opening this new month with a comeback.
november is always a cruel month, for as long as I can remember – and it just hit me as hard as ever, once again.
but there’s no excuse, and I should keep blogging, so here I am.

I’ve realized how badly this research thing is affecting and spreading all over my life, my devotion and my attention span – specially how hard it affects my family, the ones I am supposed to love and whose love I might have not treasured that much in the past two years. yes, this is a public apology, I guess.

our facebook group is growing and getting contributions from different kinds of participants, our research got nice feedback at the research center’s seminar (Ciaud) and our co-creation experiment is almost completed – nice and fun sweaters done by studentXgrandma teams! 🙂

more news to come in the next days!
for now, it’s just good to be back.