GAUGE81 — Gotta Keep Movin’ On

Andreas Klassen
Carolina Augustin
Sofi Chetrar

We sat down with Monika Silva, the designer behind Amsterdam-based fashion brand, GAUGE81, to chat about the brand’s approach to creating versatile and timeless statement pieces. The brand has gained a glowing reputation for its ability to flatter a range of body types and is beloved by A-list celebrities and fashion enthusiasts alike and here we dive into the design philosophy behind GAUGE81, the designer’s cultural influences, the brand’s commitment to inclusivity, sustainability and much more.

GAUGE81 dress

Sofi Chetrar: GAUGE81 is praised for its ability to create statement pieces that are versatile and timeless. How do you achieve this and what factors do you consider when designing a new collection?
Monika Silva: We look through every piece with a fine tooth comb because we want to take the time to carefully and thoughtfully curate a collection that is in tune with the needs of the market, which seems obvious, but can actually be a challenge when you get caught up in the hustle and bustle.
The market place is shifting and it’s becoming more and more evident that women invest in better pieces, rather than more pieces. As such, we aim for deep-rooted integrity across all of our collections, striving for each piece to be high in quality and timeless in design. Our hope is that our customers feel that investing in a GAUGE81 piece comes with the knowledge that they are purchasing a quality item that will last over time.
SC: Can you explain what ‘day to night’ fashion means to you?
MS: The reality is that the modern woman today leads a complex life, wears many hats and has less time. Sometimes there just aren’t enough hours in the day, let alone time to go home and change… therein the increased need for day to night pieces. GAUGE81 believes in thoughtful, multi-purpose pieces. They are pieces meant to be layered, or be worn as stand-alones, and to transition from day to evening with a simple shoe or handbag change. We dare to play with holy staples, incorporating a twist of ‘glamorous flair’ into our designs, which gives the wearer a sense of freedom from convention, empowerment and a bold attitude.
SC: You are Colombian and the brand is Amsterdam based. Do you draw inspiration from both cultures and what aspects of those do you incorporate into your work?
MS: Absolutely. Contrast is where we feel at home. Our designs are an extension of our Southern roots and Northern homebase, resulting in interconnected contradictions: clean and complex, minimal and voluptuous, comfortable yet glamorous, modern yet deeply rooted in sartorial tradition and crafts. This multifaceted approach to design and its ability to surprise is the ace up our sleeve, and we feel is the decisive resource that keeps people watching.

GAUGE81 top & skirt, Charlotte Chesnais necklace

GAUGE81 top & skirt, Tom Wood earrings

SC: Your brand is worn by the hottest it-girls like Hailey Bieber, Emily Ratajkowski and Selena Gomez. Who else would you like to see wearing GAUGE81?
MS: As long as she is bold, confident, risqué… the GAUGE81 woman doesn’t take herself too seriously.
SC: Being a female designer, do you feel like you design for yourself when creating collections?
MS: My style is the ‘borrowed from your boyfriend’ look. I have a passion for men’s shirts and blazers – styling for example a mini skirt with an oversized poplin shirt or a blazer as a mini dress with boots. GAUGE81 takes those cues and juxtaposes them with bold elements and offers a more undisputedly feminine vibe.
SC: Your designs are loved by so many, especially for their ability to flatter a range of body types. How does the brand approach inclusivity in its designs and making all customers feel seen and represented?
MS: Our mission is to instil confidence and sensuality. We have all witnessed this great worldwide movement of body positivity which has paved the path for a rise in demand for pieces that highlight the feminine form and convey sensuality.
Each of our designs is the result of a considered study of the feminine form, sculpting distinctive silhouettes that lay bare the sexiest features. We want the GAUGE81 woman to feel comfortable in her own skin, and feel a sense of pride in baring some skin, in owning her sensuality.
SC: Many fashion brands are grappling with issues of sustainability and ethical production. How do you approach this?
MS: Our design process and development takes place in Amsterdam. Most production is done in Europe – Italy, Portugal and Turkey. We are a young brand and achieving full, true sustainability doesn’t happen overnight. However, 2020 marked the beginning of our GAUGE GOES GREEN initiative. The longer term plan is a living organism and involves a complex, itemised plan and roll out by phases.
We aim for each piece to be high-in quality, fair in price and timeless in design. At every step of the process, we strive to act from a place of honesty and integrity to guarantee quality in the broadest sense.

GAUGE81 top & skirt

GAUGE81 dress, Paris Texas boots, Otiumberg earrings

GAUGE81 top & skirt, Tom Wood earrings

GAUGE81 dress, Paris Texas boots, Otiumberg earrings

SC: You previously described your design philosophy as “minimalism with a twist.” What does this mean in practice, and how does it manifest in the brand’s designs?
MS: The brand’s signature is playful, bold and undisputedly feminine. Our design canvas is clean and minimal, but there is usually an element of surprise – we regularly flirt with striking lines, unexpected proportions, and pops of colour. Inspiration often comes from decades past, and is all about reimagining timeless classics.
SC: Do you have a favourite piece in the current collection? If so, why?
MS: Definitely the INA fluid jersey dress – this is the highlight of our HS23 collection for me, especially the cumin colour. I fell in love with it from the first toile we did in our atelier. The waterfall draping and texture give it a particularly special ease and versatility.
SC: Finally, what is in the pipeline for GAUGE81?
MS: 2023 marks a very important year for us. Most of all it is about creating a closer connection – with our home base (the Netherlands) but also with our key markets. Last December we opened the doors to our very first pop-up store, which has been a great success and is something we want to explore further this year – to really be ‘out’ and present as a brand. Simultaneously – in terms of designs – you could say that this year’s theme is all about a moment of ‘inversion’ and coming back to oneself.

GAUGE81 dress, By Far shoes & Otiumberg earrings

GAUGE81 dress, Completedworks earrings
Photographer: Andreas Klassen
Stylist: Carolina Augustin
Model: Janet Jumbo at IMG
Makeup: Machiko Yano 
Hair: Moe Mukai
Casting: Bella Robinson at The Line Casting
Photographer’s assistants: Federico Covarelli & Guanhao Wang
Stylist’s assistant: Jess Miller