The fashion industry is changing and entering uncharted territory when it comes to innovation and inclusion, so much so that it’s required a whole new language. In today’s fashion terminology, more is more, with food-related terms and idioms now in the lexicon. For example, “serving” and various forms of “eat / ate / eaten” can be heard to express approval and as a compliment.
Let us eat.
The landscape of fashion can be likened not to a desert, but a garden that’s being cultivated through support, collaboration, and some TLC. The mission is simple: everybody grows, and everybody eats.
Inside El Paso’s Garden of “Eaten” you’ll find a thriving ecosystem crawling with fashion, creativity, and a new wave of talent that’s weaving like ivy throughout the Borderland and expanding to places like New York City.
Jose Gaucin is a local couturier and native El Pasoan whose story reads like something out of a fashion fairytale. Gaucin was in high school during the stay-at-home days of the COVID-19 pandemic, where he first tried his hand at the sartorial arts on a sewing machine. Fast-forward a few years, and Gaucin’s collections of edgy, sustainable, and bespoke clothing are easily recognizable. Soon, the budding designer will be taking his talents to the Big Apple to attend the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan.
Reflecting on his journey, Gaucin is also preparing for the future.
“At the time I started creating, there were these pants that I really wanted but I wasn’t working. I decided to try to create them by myself and started cutting up pieces of clothing – but I didn’t know what I was doing. I had the vision then figured out how to make it come to life,” says Gaucin.
Born and raised in El Paso, Gaucin credits his large tight-knit family with who he is today and says the family was the source of inspiration to pursue the world of fashion.
Some of his earliest memories revolving around fashion occurred as a kid when his grandmother in Ciudad Juarez would babysit him and take him to work with her.
“She would style clothes and I would go with her to help style,” he says.
From there, Gaucin began noticing fashion at school with what his classmates were wearing and how they chose to express themselves.
Today, Gaucin is representative of the future of fashion and is using contemporary trends and developments in his collections that are reshaping the fashion industry.
“I always get excited when Gaucin brings me in on a project,” says makeup artist Vander Vanity. “Gaucin and his team redefine fashion in El Paso. They have this intriguing aesthetic about them that’s hard to put into words. Gaucin is not just a designer, he’s El Paso’s next big fashion icon, and he’s ready to make a global impact.”
Gaucin and Vander Vanity first met ahead of Gaucin’s first Spring / Summer collection, where a creative bond was formed. Together, they’re working with other local talent to grow not only the fashion scene, but a community.
From there, Gaucin began collaborating with Krystal Poppin to create couture looks for the rapper, actor, and October 2022 cover star of The City Magazine.
“Gaucin’s vision is so striking,” she explains “I’m always intrigued by his creativity and passion, especially at his age. He’s destined for greatness.”
As the fashion industry continues to undergo a transformative period characterized by a focus on sustainability, inclusivity, and ethical practices, Gaucin continues to be a local example of innovation.
On the day of our cover shoot in downtown El Paso, Gaucin and his gaggle of models and stylists transformed an empty studio into a dress-up dream: rows and rows of technicolored platform heels; a table full of jewelry and other accessories; racks of clothes in fun fabrics and with funky textures.
“My aesthetic is very grungy and camp. But when I was putting these pieces together, I pulled pieces from my archives and added more pieces to add more punk and elegant elements,” he says.
At only 18-years old, Gaucin managed his team and helped direct the editorial shoots with a level of aplomb well beyond his years.
Some are just born with it.
Soon, Gaucin will be headed to New York City to begin his formal education in fashion at one of the most prestigious institutions in the world.
But it didn’t come easy, or quickly.
Gaucin recalls the experience of watching his classmates receive offers and acceptance letters from colleges and universities during his senior year of high school, and wondered what was next for him.
When would his turn come?
“Fashion school has been my dream since my freshman year of high school,” he says. “Once I started designing, I became really invested in applying to big fashion schools but I knew I wanted to go to New York or L.A.”
Smartly, Gaucin took his time with the application process.
“I took a semester off to start working on my portfolio. I applied – and thankfully – I got in! That was such an amazing thing for me,” he says.
The acceptance into the Fashion Institute of Technology came in the form of an email that Gaucin received while out shopping with his mom.
“They sent me an email, and because I was busy shopping, I took a screenshot and sent it to my friend because I thought it was just a typical email,” he laughs.
But the message was anything but typical. In fact, it was life changing.
“Literally, once I realized I was accepted, I dropped everything in the middle of the store to start calling everyone. It got really sentimental once my mom hugged me,” he says.
The Fashion Institute of Technology is a world-renowned leader in the education of creative minds that offers students a plethora of programs in design, art, fashion, business, communications, and more. The curriculum takes an unconventional approach to education with a vision for innovation, sustainability, diversity, equity, and inclusion that extends beyond the classroom setting.
Notable alumni of the Fashion Institute of Technology include Calvin Klein, Michael Kors, Laverne Cox, Nina Garcia, Randy Fenoli, Robert Rodriguez, and many more.
Gaucin is looking forward to the opportunity to step into the shoes of some of fashion’s greatest as he forges his own path and creates his own legacy.
“It’s a big challenge – but in a good way,” he says. “It’s a great move for everybody in El Paso’s fashion industry, not just me. I’m so ready to get out there and start working.”