Purple Magazine
— Purple 76 Index issue 29

Tamez gladys

californian millinery

portrait and interview by OLIVIER ZAHM

OLIVIER ZAHM — Where do you come from?

GLADYS TAMEZ — I’m from the north of Mexico, from Tamaulipas. It shares a border with Texas — there are a lot of cowboys. I guess that’s where my passion for hats comes in. I come from a family of bullfighters.

OLIVIER ZAHM — So, there’s a tradition of bullfighting in Mexico?

GLADYS TAMEZ — Yes! It’s getting less and less though. Since I can remember, my mom and dad have worn hats. Especially when there was a bullfight or an event at the bullring. People would always wear hats.

OLIVIER ZAHM — There’s a lot of tension at the border with immigration?

OLIVER AND GLADYS TAMEZ IN THEIR MILLINERY, DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES

GLADYS TAMEZ — Now, there’s a lot more tension. When I was growing up, we never saw any of that. It’s a really cool town, we were all united. I’m still friends with all my childhood friends.

OLIVIER ZAHM — When did you start your millinery shop?

GLADYS TAMEZ — In 2012. I was traveling to Spain. I wanted to make my hat for a bullfight in Las Ventas [Madrid’s main bullring]. I met these haberdashers in this little town, Vitoria. I started talking with them, and they made my hat, and we talked, and I fell in love immediately. I came back to the States, and I went to take classes immediately. They were, like, five hours a day, Monday to Friday. That’s how my story began.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Were you already involved in fashion? 

GLADYS TAMEZ — Yes, yes. Before that, I used to have my clothing line, for about 10 years. It was called Franny. I closed down the business in 2009 because of the crisis and everything. I went to Spain in about 2009, and this was when my passion for hats came. I started taking classes. The clothing business was a little more complicated. The hat business came more organically to me, really beautifully.

OLIVIER ZAHM — And there are a lot of trendy people wearing hats, but not necessarily with style.

GLADYS TAMEZ — No. [Laughs]

OLIVIER ZAHM — When is it right to wear a hat, from your point of view? It can be a bit fake. Like, following a trend.

GLADYS TAMEZ — I hate the word “trend.” It’s not in my repertoire. First, wearing a hat is a necessity. You see, here it gets really hot. I get burnt, so I need to cover my skin. And then, right now, more and more people are getting skin cancers. I try to do, to make modern hats. I don’t like to see people who look like they’re in a costume. To be cool, normal, that’s your hat that you always wear — that’s the look I’m going for.

OLIVIER ZAHM — What’s the most beautiful aspect of wearing a hat? 

GLADYS TAMEZ — To me, a hat is a conversational piece, too. Wherever I go, people talk to me. Everything starts. I have so many clients who fall in love because of the hat. [Laughs] I have a lot of clients who have never worn hats in their life. I have Saudi princesses — they don’t wear hats. They start wearing it. They feel more comfortable. I never start with a big hat. I start with something more comfortable. Maybe like a cap, maybe a small brim. And then, little by little, they get into it.

OLIVIER ZAHM — The way you make your hats is with a lot of passion. First of all, are they handmade?

GLADYS TAMEZ — Everything is handmade. I don’t have machines to make four or five at once. I still make them with woodblocks, as you see. I collect them. I go to flea markets around the world. I started buying them one by one. Then my big collection came from a lady who had collected for 20 years. And then she passed. Somebody called me, and I went to get, like, 800 of them.

OLIVIER ZAHM — Do you use animal skin and fur?

GLADYS TAMEZ — On principle, yes. But the summer hats are made from straw. The straw comes from Ecuador. And then for the winter hats, we have rabbit and beaver. The top of the line will be 100% beaver.

OLIVIER ZAHM — How do you explain your success, Gladys?

GLADYS TAMEZ — I think it’s because people are looking for quality. It is pivotal. Handmade is an old tradition that I want to keep alive. People are looking for something different. You look different, it gives you personality.

OLIVIER ZAHM — It’s nice to be in Los Angeles, right? People are quite free with what they wear?

GLADYS TAMEZ — Yes. You notice that people here don’t care about what’s trendy. People have their own style. We have beautiful nature. We have everything, different climates. I love Los Angeles but my heart belongs to Mexico.

END

[Table of contents]

Purple 76 Index issue 29

Table of contents

Purple Index 76

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