Agustín Nicolás Rivero’s label, A New Cross is handcrafted in Colombia, and is driven by the idea that garments should function as a living space – one that comforts and protects. He just also happens to be the FTA Prize 2021’s Guest Country winner from Colombia. 

“[I’m] an observer and a translator, those two words could define the way I relate to the world I live in; how the different contexts that happen in this world affect me, and how I can transform those experiences into stories,” he says. This is seen in Rivero’s approach to merging his South American heritage with a minimalist and genderless ethos, celebrating diversity and the freedom to express one’s identity. 

Rivero does not follow a linear inspiration for his collections, but rather focuses on the exploration of textiles. “It’s the commentaries that I can express through understanding the clothes that cover our body as the smallest architecture we can inhabit; this first layer not only protects us, but also serves as a channel of expression for our own identity,” he explains. He is inspired by his travels, particularly in the way he can step out of his everyday life, only to find himself experiencing a new one in a new territory. “It helps me learn or unlearn new things in life that I can later translate into stories and expressions.” 

Whether it’s understanding what people eat, how they spend their free time or observing the rituals of everyday life in a suburban quiet village, Rivero is drawn to intentions and dialogue. “This dialogue takes us to different places and conceptual conclusions that I can take back to my atelier in Bogotá, [and] with my team we transform the textile experimentations into silhouettes, patterns and prototypes,” he says.

Tradition and legacy

Hailing from Bogotá, Colombia, Rivero is from a generation of designers that believe in the power of weaving together a strong community focused on building a conscious industry that is both sustainable and ethical. The artisanal community in Colombia is an integral part of the brand, “they are the reason I [won FTA], without them I just would have a sketchbook full of concepts. I owe them this award and I’m focused on encouraging a new generation of artisans to continue with the tradition and legacy of the Colombian crafts.” 

He hopes, through his win, that he will be able to share more of Colombia’s rich history in arts and design with the world, void of any “cliches that most [people] know about this beautiful country”. Additionally, creating awareness around the concept of patience, he says, “I think that Colombia is a very resilient country since we have overcome many social and economical obstacles.” As for the future, he tells us of several exciting projects currently in the pipeline, “I have some very interesting upcoming projects that include furniture, ceramics and sculpture. Letting go of my comfort zone (fabric), is a challenge that I need to [be able to] reach unexpected questions.”