With big dreams of becoming president, changing the world, and a repertoire of Mexican pop group Parchís’ songs, Tino Portillo raises as one of America’s most prominent fashion stylists thanks to perseverance and discipline. In this exclusive interview for ÖVRFLÖD, he shares his turbulent beginnings, his view of the world of fashion, his passions and his goals.
Originally from Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, he studied in Spain and now raises as one of the most relevant persons in the Mexican fashion industry, specializing in creative directions, fashion production and styling. Portillo began his career with little influences. “No experience and no one to lean on, I knew no one in the capital (Mexico City). I came here and little by little, taking every odd job, I made a name for myself. I’m the clear example of anything and everything being possible, even when everything’s dark and no one lends a helping hand. Hunger, in all aspects, is the thing that makes you grow”, he says. He began creating opportunities for himself, which will soon take him to work on different fashion projects and using the potential of streaming events.
“I do not believe in rules. Fashion, like life itself, is constant change, and right now, everything goes.”
He mixes references and his particular style in every project he undertakes, be it editorial or commercial. “I love contrast, match print, sport, high fashion, blend it all together and that, that is me”. Tino Portillo takes the sacred and the divine and combines them with Mexican photography: “I love sacred art, Graciela Iturbide’s photos, and many more things”, he claims. However, he insists on not letting references carry one’s work. “The best inspiration is not copying anyone’s style, and look for your own”. Each project juxtaposes with the next, each production bears a unique vibe to it.
Some of his latest works, each of them with its own DNA, include magazine covers for Marie Clare and Cosmopolitan, publicity campaigns for Netflix, and his first collaboration with the jewellery brand Polca. He also works as a celebrity stylist, and each work reminds him of his creative needs, which makes him compare fashion to art: “fashion is art in movement, just like life itself.”
In an industry where everything expires as soon as it is published, reinventing oneself is a must for those working in it. Portillo forgoes rules and clothes themselves. “Everything is already done. We are in a stage where we are doing the exact opposite of creation, we are looking to break patterns”. This is not the only obstacle for creatives looking to style men. In Portillo’s opinion, the world of tomorrow must have a certain look. “Clothes will be genderless. However, changing this mindset will not be easy. Maybe it will take three decades, maybe more, but men should definitely feel manly, independently from the clothes they wear.” This idea shows itself in his projects, where masculinity goes above and beyond established canon, clothes is not a showcase for virility, but rather a means of personal expression for the user.
Yet, Portillo has clear goals that are not necessarily involved with styling. He wishes to create his own clothing and jewellery line and aims to keep making photos. After the hard times felt the world over in 2020, his main objective is, however, to “be in the present, live here and now, that is important. Life will take me wherever I need to go, and that includes my career”. Each creation by Tino Portillo has consolidated him as one of America’s most important creative directors, while developing his personal style, and keeping him above the rest. After his arduous battle to figure in the fashion world, little is left but to be on the lookout of his next works, which will surely reflect his tenacity, persistence, and freedom.
Follow Tino Portillo on Instagram: @tinoportillo