Bolivian Fashion Designer Fera Schmidt Talks Design And Creating Her Nike Sneaker
Fera Schmidt is the industry’s new fashionable force.
Born and raised in Bolivia and now living in New York City, Fera Schmidt is an upcoming designer with a cool flair and down to earth persona. Schmidt’s brand ICETEES can be seen on celebrities such as Jorja Smith and in publications such as Vogue Italia and Elle Mexico. Schmidt mixes street and athleisure wear with an artistic flair. Her designs are becoming prevalent in the fashion industry and she has recently collaborated with Nike to design her own sneaker. We had the opportunity to interview the talented designer and find out more about her personal journey in becoming a designer, her Nike sneaker and individual style.
Firstly, can you tell us more about your design background? Why did you become a designer?
It was an organic process, I wanted to pursue a career in fashion design since I can remember, but in Bolivia, there weren’t many options at the time, so I followed my dad’s advice and went to business school. After graduating, I got a couple of jobs in retail stores, managing some Argentinian clothing brands, but my dream was always New York. In 2013 I found a couple of internship opportunities in NYC with Fashion Designers to help during Fashion Week. I moved here for the summer; It was a brief period, but significant in that it was where I figured out what I wanted to do. I knew this was the place for me to explore my creative side. I went back home after 6 months and started ICETEES along with my boyfriend and partner. The brand started as a graphic t-shirt shop, we had really good acceptance in Bolivia, and in 2014, with the money made from the t-shirts, we came to New York for a ‘summer’, that turned into 6 years this past August 2019. New York is where I really started exploring design as something serious; I took a few classes at FIT and parsons, where I learned some fundamentals, and started putting small collections together, I would fly regularly to Bolivia and spend 3 months a year working with seamstresses and tailors. I learned how a garment is made, the amount of work behind every stitch and learned to appreciate fashion design as an art form.
What made you want to design a Nike sneaker?
Nike is one of my favorite brands since I was a kid, and one of the few American brands we used to get back in Bolivia. The best memories I have from growing up in the 90s are in some way tied up to this brand. Maybe it’s the way Nike spoke to my generation in terms of style, through products like Jordan’s, collaborations with cool designers and athletes and empowering slogans like “Just do it”. Or the fact that I have always been obsessed with sneakers;). But for some reason, I have always felt a strong connection to the swoosh.
What was the design process like and what aspects of the sneaker did you spend the most time on?
From the moment I knew I was going to co-create a sneaker with Nike, I immediately thought of Bolivia and how to expand on the world’s narrow view of my country, which is one of the reasons why I wanted to come to NY–the capital of the world, and a place where I could showcase the unknown side of Bolivia to diverse cultures from all around the world. The design process starts with extensive exploration, working on several concepts and variations until I discover something original that is visually interesting. Once I have a solid concept, inspiration comes from unexpected places, but the most important and sometimes difficult part of the design process is to trust your own instinct and tell a true story. Although design is the most satisfying stage of the process, I think marketing is the most time-consuming; this is a reality across the entire fashion industry. You will probably spend more time on strategy than actually designing, but it’s all worth it at the end, just to open that box and see the brand-new sneaker you created!
What made you want to add a personal touch to the sneaker?
If you look at most of my pieces you will find a connection between the sneaker and my personal style, growing up in Santa Cruz, Bolivia, I was always surrounded by tropical landscapes and natural forests. Green is the signature color of my city and is my favorite color at the moment, so that wasn’t a question. My story is not much different from other immigrants who come to the US looking for opportunities. I wanted to connect with these people and show them that no matter where you come from, you deserve an opportunity to share your vision with the world.
And, lastly, we love your style and creative designs! Can you tell us what key pieces of clothing constitute your personal style?
Thank you so much! I would say that I always have a pair of bike shorts, a vintage pair of Levi’s jeans, an oversized t-shirt, a good shirt and of course a pair of sneakers, I go everywhere in sneakers!
The sneaker will be available from the 31st of August at Nike and if you are in New York, you can purchase it at Nike Soho and Nike on Fifth Avenue.