Fashion Week Q&A with German Madrigal

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

January 28, 2016

German Madrigal’s gender-neutral collection for New York Fashion Week is his second trip down the runway. In 2014, he showcased a collaborative collection with a fellow student. German recently won the Emerging Designer Competition at FashioNXT in Portland, Oregon. He is working toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Apparel Design from The Art Institute of Portland.

What ideas did you experiment with as you created your collection?

My collection has elements of tailoring and gender-neutral design details to comfortably push one’s personal style. [I experimented] with the idea of layering while minimizing the number of garments worn. Some pieces are patterned and cut to fit either gender, pushing the idea of a gender-neutral collection.

What was your design process for this collection?

The process starts with being aware of my surroundings. I disconnect from distractions and take walks around the city with nothing but ambient music playing.

I take what I am feeling at the moment—or an ideology that has stuck to my head— and begin to research. [At a local bookstore, I research] graphic design, interior design, artists, and anything not related to fashion. From there, I look at images I snapped on my phone over the years and other findings. I start to visually piece what I want to represent—the emotion or idea I am going with the collection.

I tend to do things in my own way and start to design with lines and silhouettes in mind. Then I begin to source fabrics. Once the designs are done and fabrics chosen, I pin up sketches and swatches and have two trusted friends come in and tell me what they think. One tells me the realistic approach from a merchandising and buyers’ perspective and the other tells me from a design and technical perspective.

I like to work with others from different fields because in the real world it’s what turns a simple idea into a great one.

How did your education in Fashion Design help you through the creative process?

My education [taught me] how to construct a garment. Whether it be [instructor] Sue Bonde cutting up a muslin prototype and shifting the shoulder to show me how to balance the piece, or [instructor] Catherine Stephenson constantly pushing me to strive for the highest quality of constructing a garment. [And] Tricia Crockett taught me how to finally make a pair of leggings, out of stretch knit material.

These people, pillars in my life, have built the foundation [for my future]. I have also learned on my own and chased my own opportunities outside of school.

When did you realize that you had what it takes to pursue a fashion career?

Further into my education, I realized it is up to me to take what I was taught and go outside the classroom. I learned not be afraid to pursue opportunities. For example, thanks to a little nudge, I applied and showed at the emerging designers competition at FashioNXT. I ended up winning. It showed that I received the proper education from my teachers and I have what it takes to compete in this industry.

What are you focused on with the runway event so close?

I am running around getting things prepared. [I’m making certain I’ve] done everything in my power to showcase the collection the way I want it to be shown. The challenges are always the same and constant—juggling of an endless list of things to do and staying on top of everything. I am learning how to multitask and stay cool under pressure.

What advice to you have for fashion students?

The advice I give to any aspiring fashion student is to constantly “ask why not me?” It’s the one thing that keeps me going when I get stuck in a rut. As cliche as it sounds, we only have one life and one chance to live. Live it [by] making a dream into a reality by constantly creating and living a passionate life.

[A career in fashion takes] sacrifice and hard work. The nights will be endless and you may even have to juggle two jobs, school full time, and a relationship. But it’s so worth it. I know there is nothing else I would rather be doing and there is nothing and no one that can take away that passion. I would redo every hardship I've gone through. I have grown [as both a student and a person].

Which designers do you follow?

Each designer and brand has its own way of standing out. Each label has an amazing team of people working to support the designer’s vision. I respect and am inspired by their branding, construction methods, and the way they present anything that comes out like fashion videos, interviews, logos, and hang tags. It’s amazing to see a unified vision represented in everything that is done.

  • Gareth Pugh
  • Rad Hourani
  • Dion Lee
  • Public School
  • The Row
  • Celine
  • Rick Owens
  • Yohji Yamamoto
  • Duckie Brown
  • Raf Simons
  • Chapter Clothing

Which blogs or publications do you stay on top of?

I don’t really follow the blogs as much as others but if I look at any, I follow makeup artists on Instagram like @nojusthenry or @timothyhungcom.

I always pick up graphic design books and other publications to get references. I try to not be inspired by fashion-based images as much as [I do the person who is behind] the makeup, clothing, and design. I guess you can say I am attracted to studying the person’s mind and [their visual expression].

Watch the live broadcast here!

Check out the other designers participating in Fashion Week

View German’s sketches and inspiration board by clicking on the thumbnails


The Art Institute of Portland is one of The Art Institutes, a system of over 50 schools throughout North America. Programs, credential levels, technology, and scheduling options vary by school and are subject to change. Not all online programs are available to residents of all U.S. states. Several institutions included in The Art Institutes system are campuses of South University or Argosy University. The Art Institute of Portland, 1122 N.W. Davis Street, Portland, OR 97209-2911. ©2016 The Art Institutes. All rights reserved. Our email address is

See for program duration, tuition, fees and other costs, median debt, salary data, alumni success, and other important info.

Learn more about our programs.

Get Brochure

By: Rachel Handel Filed under: Fashion

January 28, 2016

German Madrigal New York City New York Fashion Week Fall Winter 2016