>You don't have to be in New York right now to get in on the action of New York Fashion Week and all the exciting, creative, and fresh ideas coming out of every show and presentation. And thanks to one famous insider, brands don't need to be from New York (or be American, for that matter) to leave a mark this month either. At least that’s the goal of Latin Curated, a project brought to fruition with the help of Marie Claire Creative Director and Project Runway judge Nina Garcia.
>Latin Curated, as the name suggests, is the new pop-up store that houses collections that originate from all parts of Latin America and is open for the month of September in NYC. With a quick scan of the floor, you'll find designers like Atelier Crump, Inés Bellorez, and Mio Coral. If they don't ring a bell, don't worry—you're not alone, but Garcia is working to change that. "What I'm most passionate about is to bring these designs to New York," Garcia tells us about amplifying exposure for these established and up-and-coming talents.
>A native of Colombia herself, this industry vet sat down with us to discuss why she feels so passionate about introducing Latin American designers to the U.S. and what makes them an especially unique group. The main takeaway? There's a rich history of craftsmanship in Latin American fashion that's simply not as well known in the U.S. Learning about the brands that are preserving these crafts is just the beginning. Visiting the pop-up—open now through September 30—is next.
>Scroll down for our conversation with Nina Garcia about where to look for new and unique inspiration this month that's not at any New York Fashion Week show.
>WHO WHAT WEAR: For starters, you have a personal connection to Latin America, but can you tell us a bit more about why and how you became involved with this project?
>NINA GARCIA: Recently I went to Bogotá Fashion Week, which was an event that showcased a lot of the younger designers. I was already convinced that there was talent in Colombia, but the collections I saw really impressed me. And as we went about Fashion Week in Colombia, we talked about how it would be great to be able to bring this incredible talent to New York, to Fashion Week, and have everybody witness it. When you go through the racks [here at Latin Curated], you’ll see there’s a sense of discovery—there’s a unique perspective; there’s incredible craftsmanship in Colombia. And when you have craftsmanship, with it comes integrity and history. In the age of digital and overwhelming sameness, there is still a need to discover, to want to have something personal.
>WWW: So are these all new designers we can find here?
>NG: Even the established designers are not really known in the United States. Some of them, like Olga Piedrahita, have been in business very long and are very well-established designers, but for [the U.S.] market, we don’t know about them. This is an opportunity to meet them and to discover their talents that we have already discovered in Colombia.
WWW: How did you discover the Latin American brands you like to wear?
NG: There are some that I still wear [from growing up] and some that I, with all my travels back and forth to Colombia, have worn for many years, like Olga Piedrahita, Mulierr, Flor Amazona. There are a lot that are a part of my wardrobe and life.
WWW: Why do you think now is a key time to introduce Latin American designers to the U.S. and, specifically, New York?
NG: The power of the digital age is that it’s opened up so many lines in fashion. Full-figured women have a greater voice—the same goes for the expression of Latin women or modest women. It's an opportunity for other voices to be heard. This is the perfect time to do this.
WWW: What specific qualities do you find are unique to Latin American designers?
NG: They work very well with artisans. And when you work with artisans, you work with history that’s been passed down from generation to generation. There’s a deep sense of that in Latin America. There are also many communities that use a sustainable approach to producing.
>WWW: We know a lot of women who aspire to embrace French-girl style, but what about Latin American women? Do they have a signature way of getting dressed?
NG: Latin girls, culturally, are very feminine. They take extra care in their appearance, their nails, their hair, their clothing. I also think they love color; they love jewelry; they love to decorate. It’s about the joy of dressing.
>WWW: Are there any NYC trends that you feel Latin American women wouldn't wear?
NG: I don’t think that’s the case because Latin America is such a global market. They have Zara; they have H&M—it’s all there. They’re not at a disadvantage because they’re getting all this information.
>WWW: Which of the emerging designers are you most excited about right now?
NG: There are so many. There’s Paola Mendoza who does jewelry; Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzura, who does the incredible shoes; there's Nancy Gonzalez. She’s not an emerging designer; she’s a global brand, and she’s leading the charge. There is Johanna Ortiz, M2M, Mercedes Salazar—there are a lot. And then there are all of these here [at Latin Curated]. My wish is that they become part of the collective and lead the charge.
Opening Image: Paula Mendoza