Sócrates Mckinney, The Czar of Dominican Fashion
There are people whose name is perfectly related to them and, as a plan of fate, they have the mission to go beyond any obstacle. Undoubtedly, Sócrates Mckinney is one of them.
Going back to Ancient Greece, a culture as such, was already characterized by worshiping beauty, the human body, and being the cradle of art and intelligentsia, where the first philosophers in the history of mankind arose. Socrates was the greatest of all and Platon was among his followers, who later would become Aristoteles’s mentor, one of the great genious of the human race.
Today, our Socrates is also responsible for projecting the Dominican talent in the fashion area worldwide thanks to his most valued daughter: DominicanaModa. This is an event which is religiously hold since the last ten years and has been the showcase for many young models whose career has been shot like Avril Guerrero, Austria Ulloa, Temis Andújar and the top model Marihenny Rivera, and designers of considerable stature like José Jhan, Oriette Domenech, Moisés Quesada, Leonel Lirio, among many others who look for a place in the Dominican closet. Exclusively, we talk to Sócrates Mckinney.
When did the relation between you and fashion begin? The fashion was always something close to me, but just for personal use. I was a “modernist” kid for as long as I can remember. I’m an architect by profession, graduated from Pedro Henríquez Ureña University many years ago.
Why fashion is important to you? The fashion is misunderstood. Fashion is an industry that gives benefits to many families due to the amount of jobs it can create and the way it can impact on micro and macro economy. The fashion industry contributes a significant percentage to our GDP. Besides, the fashion is a powerful instrument to provide welfare while it is understood as a social responsibility, as DominicanaModa does. The entrances for the fashion show are assigned to Institutions with no profit motive in mind.
What have been the main obstacles you have had to face in the Dominican market? The Dominican people is skeptical by nature; we get used to first being recognized abroad and assimilating later that what we do has the same value.
This skepticism along with the lack of public policies to support creative industries, where fashion is included, and the apathy of great multinationals to tangibly have an impact on local industries as well, make things harder.
The process that would take two years in many countries, has lasted eleven in our country. To introduce designers who have paraded in DominicanaModa for the last ten years, has been a feat underrated in our country, where we prefer to critize the Dominican effort and copy bad examples imported from the communication of this globilized world.
Suffice it to have a quick glance at the magazines to notice that Dominican people, specialy women, like to have their eyes on tendencies. How do you describe the Dominican woman? What does she like? and what does she still reject in terms of fashion? The Dominican woman goes to the beauty salon two o three times a week (it is not by chance, the great reputation of our hairdressers and products globally). This is a remarkable sign of how Dominican women like to take care of themselves and be dressed up.
As other country or region, they have their own preferences. While an American woman wears a long-tailed dress just to walk on the “Hollywood Red Carpet”, a latin woman wears it for her son’s birthday. Moreover, while a European woman buys a good purse every five years, a latin one buys it every six months and not only one but also several of them.
The Dominican woman adopts the tendencies that perfectly fit to the way she is: sexy and coloring, and highly stressed her figure. Sometimes in her egearness to be feminine, she can exaggerate, however it is part of her collective existing. The weakness for fashion and tendencies goes beyong social strata and ages. In general, the Dominican woman doesn’t have enough money to invest but “she wears more combinations than a safebox”.
What does the country need to do for the international recognition of its designers? The fashion industry should be projected by the state. The great fashion powers have been the result of a state policy. A private event will never become the industry and its designer an international issue without a political will.
What has been Dominicana Moda’s influence on becoming Dominican design an international issue? Being aware of its lack of ecomonic scope, we have signed agreements to participate in equivalent events all over Latin America, as a way to exchange designers. Only because of these agreements, Dominican designers have traveled more than 70 times in the last eleven years thanks to DominicanaModa. They have been considered as reference of fashion design in the region.
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