In 2022, the terms ‘Latin American’ and ‘Latino’ is less a statement about where you live and more about Latin heritage, the DNA of your upbringing. Indeed, the term ‘Latinx’ from the LGBTQ sphere has been championed as a more inclusive term encompassing individuals in the international diaspora of Latin American descent as well as Latin American people, and both the cultural and ethnic nuances of the heritage. At the helm of Hispanic clothing design are individuals like Manolo Blahnik, Carolina Herrera, and Oscar de la Renta – who paved the way for Latino designers in America to share their culture. Here are 10 up-and-coming Latinx fashion designers of Latin America and the diaspora making their mark in their own home countries in South America, Mexico, and around the world.
Bahía María comes from the word ‘bay’ and the founder’s name, representing a mingling of elements highlighted in the idea that their luxe swimwear pieces are meant to be transitional looks that take a woman from day to night, beach to city. Designed and manufactured locally in Colombia, the versatile bikini tops, bikini bottoms, and dreamy resort wear collection have strong art deco influence and take inspiration from nature for their design and materials: think seashell bra cups, glossy sea pearls, and gauzy, shimmery tops and skirts that emulate the liquid look of wet seaweed embracing your curves. Hello, mermaid vibes?
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La Garzetta is another fashion brand focused on swimwear formed in Colombia, which is bordered by the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, a country understandably rife with beaches and resorts. Founded by Bogotá natives and female duo Chantal Sefair and Isabella Moreno, the goal is minimalist bikinis and vacation wear crafted to make you feel like you’re wearing almost nothing so you can move freely. This is embodied in the words that drive all their designs: ‘classy’ and ‘sexy’, with high quality materials that move with every woman’s body and silhouettes cut to leave minimal awkward tan lines. La Garzetta is truly for the sun babies who spend more time on the beach than off it.
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Hispanic clothing designer Catherine Padilla is the soul behind Azul Selva, a Latinx clothing brand with pieces that are meant to act as the closet for your wanderlust summer exploring the streets of South America. Her collections range from dresses and beach cover-ups to swimsuits and matching sets of bikini tops and ruffled skirts, all inspired by the hues and textures of nature: ocean water jewel blue, white sand beaches, palm leaves, the rolling green hills of Venezuela (where Padilla hails from). Azul Selva (meaning “blue jungle”) is also effecting change in Colombia where its garments are made, by hiring hands from the community to boost the local economy and using the best ethically sourced fabrics.
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Named after the yellow-breasted blackbird found in South and Central America that is called a ‘master weaver’ species for their woven, teardrop-shaped nests that hover tens of meters from the ground, Oropendola is a Latinx designer brand that specializes in avant-garde handwoven knitwear and accessories. Oropendola employs local weavers from Medellín, Colombia who are trained in ancestral macramé and knotting techniques. This heritage identity of the local culture, combined with Creative Director Carolina Vélez’s contemporary designs, uplift the craftsmen and tell the story of their handiwork. The macramé dresses, necklaces, and tops can be summed up in the words ‘futuristic’ and ‘elevated’.
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Latin American luxury swimwear brand Aquamanile uses heat sealing technology to fabricate their seamless swimsuit collection, which seem to just effortlessly hug the body without budging in the face of strong waves. The aquamanile was a medieval water vessel (often shaped into a lion or other fantastical beast shape) that priests would use to wash their hands in the process of performing the Eucharist; the name is taken from the Latin words aqua (water) and manus (hand). Indeed, Aquamanile’s neoclassical-inspired swimsuits and holiday-ready pieces embody the best of strength and fluidity with their bold colours and sensual silhouettes that celebrate the female body.
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Founded in 2016 in South America by mother and daughter pair Mónica Arbeláez and Juliana Quintero, Palma Canaria is a Latinx fashion designer brand formed from a love of hand craftsmanship and eco-friendly clothing. Mónica and Juliana work with artisan communities from four regions of Colombia to hand-weave beautiful cocktail dresses and handbags and totes from organic, minimally treated fabrics. Their macramé collections are 100% made to order in Colombia with particular care that there is zero animal testing and minimal impact on the environment throughout the creation of their one-of-a-kind garments.
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Another Hispanic fashion designer from Colombia, Entreaguas is less of a fashion brand and more of a wearable art brand. At the helm of forming modern Hispanic style, Natalia Botero started the design house from her hometown of Manizales. Entreaguas has since grown to become nationally recognized and employing single mothers in the local communities of Colombia. Their tie-dyed kaftans, bikinis, and dresses are all macraméd and colored by hand, ensuring the same quality that Natalie envisioned when the young creative first started selling her art pieces and costumes.
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To glow, to stand out from the crowd, to step into your feminine power – this is the ethos of Dos Marquesas, named for the new Latina design duo who wants every woman to step into their inner marquise (wife of a European nobleman) energy. Dos Marquesas, which was born in 2018 in the ocean-hugging country of Colombia, offers the best artisan one-piece swimsuits and creative bikinis adorned with bows and ribbons that recall Spanish colonial heritage, and are made to last for years of careful wear.
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Mar a Mar unapologetically embraces its South American design roots without appearing aged or non-cohesive in any aspect. The eco-conscious Latin fashion designer brand making a mark in the Latina fashion industry offers versatile swimming pieces and resort wear, with a dress inspired by Flamenco, patterns inspired by countries around the continent, and rich emerald greens and deep pink patterns touched by the Latin American tradition of bright colours. Indeed, black is associated with mourning and is impractical for the climate. All Mar a Mar garments are sustainably made with recycled PET bottles and colored with water-based inks that are less toxic than traditional clothing dyes.
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Founded in 2019, Saudade de Você is a new purveyor of timeless wardrobe basics, with resort-ready linen tops, breathable linen bottoms, dresses, and swimwear made for the modern Latin woman. Meaning “Miss you” or “Longing for you” in Portuguese, the brand’s unique identity is slim cut, almost boyish silhouettes but in softly glimmering hues and gently draping fabrics (in durable fabrics that pass the test of time) that allow the inner feminine of women around the world to shine. Dress to the nines in comfort.
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