The Animals Observatory.
Funny, colourful and honest. Those are the thoughts that will come to your mind when you see The Animal Observatory clothes. Laia Aguilar and Jan Andreu created the clothes that every parent wants for their children and that will make you want some.
Who is behind The Animals Observatory?
My partner Jan Andreu and I created the brand. He deals with the brand management side while I’m in charge of the creative side.
"It's very important to listen to what they have to say".
On the website there are a few short films for each collection. What's it like filming with children? What's the best and worst part of it?
My husband Felipe Cano looks after the campaign creativity and brand content. Both he and I have developed a very close relationship with our child models and they feel very happy working with us. I think it generates a special kind of magic that is noticeable in the campaigns.
Have your children had any influence on the collections or the brand itself?
Absolutely! And I think it’s very important to listen to what they have to say.
"I believe in freedom and beauty, not in genders and most definitely not in prejudices".
Why The Animals Observatory?
I think that’s how children look at the adult world when they watch us to learn the rules of life, like an animal observatory. I imagine that, as far as they’re concerned, adults are sometimes fun, sometimes boring, and usually a bit strange and mysterious.
"The girl I was then and the woman I am now have a conversation when I'm drawing in my sketchbook".
One of the things that catches the attention about the brand is that it is gender-neutral and gender-inclusive. On the website there’s no girls’ or boys’ section. Is it a way of telling everyone that there should be no gender stereotypes when it comes to choosing what to wear?
Exactly! I believe in freedom and beauty, not in genders and most definitely not in prejudices.
Following on from the last question, do you think there is less choice out there for boys than there is for girls?
That may have been the case in the past. However, I’m sure that many items of clothing that you might initially think are for girls would look great on a boy. I reiterate the concept of freedom, starting with the clothes we wear, which is much more important than it might seem.
"The act of drawing on paper is so simple and yet so profound".
In some of the clothes we can see that there is a vintage touch. Are some pieces inspired by outfits that you used to wear as a kid?
I love that question, and the answer is yes! I got into this business because in some ways I still feel like a little girl. The girl I was then and the woman I am now have a conversation when I’m drawing in my sketchbook. The act of drawing on paper is so simple and yet so profound, it’s as ancient as mankind. In addition, my own personal taste leans towards vintage.
What’s the creative process for the designs? Is there a message or story behind each design?
I’m used to working with numerous references; I seek out beauty and transform it in a very organic way, as I was saying, with coloured pencils and paper, by drawing. And there’s nothing more to it than that; well, that and a lot of hard work. Every artistic discipline requires a lot of effort. And the reward is in the finished work.
"Every artistic discipline requires a lot of effort. And the reward is in the finished work".
If you had to choose two of the pieces of the new collection, which would you choose? Which one defines you the most?
I really can’t choose, I’m sorry. I work on my collections as a whole. Indeed, the part I most enjoy is when the whole sample collection arrives in the workshop and I can start putting together the outfits I had previously imagined and drawn. I tend to do it alone, it’s a gift to myself after all that hard work. Again, there’s a lot of the little girl in me at that time! That’s why it’s so hard for me to choose just two pieces.
"Adults see a reflection of their childhood, and children identify with our outfits".
What is the secret, if there is one, to keep such a unique brand alive when the final consumer is a child but the purchase decision depends more on the adult public?
I think it’s because the brand is authentic at heart. Adults see a reflection of their childhood, and children identify with our outfits, and in many cases they become the favourite thing in their wardrobes. This love that children feel towards our clothes also makes parents appreciate them more. All of us feel a certain affection for our kids’ favourite soft toys, and I think it’s the same thing with clothes. As a mum, I love everything related to my children’s childhood, and I think The Animals Observatory also has that emotional component about it.
We have all been experiencing lockdown over the last few months. What music have you been listening to to keep yourself sane?
My husband made me a playlist of myfavourite songs. There are almost 100 songs on the list.
I’ll tell you the first five:
Motherland by Natalie Merchant.
Talkin' 'Bout a Revolution by Tracy Chapman
Conceived by Beth Orton
Le vent nous portera by Sophie Hunger
The Gypsy Faerie Queen by Marianne Faithfull
What’s next in the pipeline for The Animals Observatory? Anything we can get excited about?
Yes, but I can’t reveal it yet! Stay tuned! (laughs).
Interview by Sara Armengol