When the average American thinks of LatinX clothing, they usually think of stereotypical tropical-influenced prints and bold colors. But there’s a lot more to Latin American designers than that.
Several LatinX designers have been taking off in recent years. Though the typical American may not know about them yet, those who follow fashion and couture have had their eyes on them for some time. These designers are not only changing the world’s view of what Latin American fashion is, but they’re also influencing the larger fashion world in general.
Johanna Ortiz’s success looks like it happened overnight, but in reality, it took 15 years of growing her brand. The Colombian designer’s luxury gypset dresses, with a boho, slinky mixture of fabrics and ruffles, came to international attention just a few years ago after a co-founder of Moda Operandi saw someone at a wedding wearing Ortiz’s design and sent Ortiz to New York.
What sets Ortiz apart is her commitment to real women– Ortiz, who describes herself as a typical Latina, “short and curvy,” tries on every design to make sure it looks and feels good– and her celebration of South American spirit, with vibrant colors and unabashed femininity. She also has a bridal collection available.
Ortiz is also committed to giving back to her community. Instead of outsourcing her factories, she keeps them in Colombia, hiring locals to work in them. She helps local women rise by teaching them couture sewing techniques through her nonprofit, Semillero.
Another Colombian woman, Silvia Tcherassi, has been poised to break out in the US. since at least 2013 after 25 years in the fashion business. She blends unexpected fabrics, like neoprene, normally used in things like wetsuits, with high-end materials.
Tcherassi notes that Colombia has long been a big producer of textiles, but only recently has had some designers start leading the way in fashion. Tcherassi has been helping to show the world that Latina fashion is not monolithic. “Colombian women love to dress up, show their femininity, and be on trend. Many years ago, their taste was more conservative and they were afraid to use colors and prints. When I opened my boutique in Bogotá, the windows of the boutiques were full of black solid clothes. Today, they take more risks.”
Venezuelan-born designer Angel Sanchez first trained as an architect before switching into fashion, a skill he learned from his mother, his first business partner. His designs are often called architectural, with highly structured dresses, particularly his wedding gown line. More recently, his move to Miami caused him to start creating dresses with a more resort-like flow. Sanchez is known for dressing celebrities like Eva Longoria but also for his loyalty to his clients, putting their needs above him trying to be a celebrity himself. He says, “I owe being here, the fact of that continuity, to all those loyal clients, the clients that don’t simply use you because now you are the ‘it’ designer and the next season use another one.”
Esteban Cortazar is a young Colombian-born designer who’s becoming very popular worldwide. Cortazar travels in class. Now based in Paris, Cortazar cites his Versace-period upbringing in Miami as a strong influence. Cortazar’s Spring 2019 collection features summer-ready looks with sumptuously draped fabric and muted sunset colors. The clothes look like something suitable to throw on over swimsuits or to wear on their own.
These Latin American designers are leaving their mark on the world and changing fashion. You can find similar Latin American designs at ByMalka, and be among the first to adopt the newest trends in fashion!