By Chiara Spagnoli Gabardi
Latin America’s famous for so much: its fabulous music, from salsa and samba to bossa nova; its jaw-dropping landscapes, like Machu Picchu, Iguazu Falls and the Galapagos islands; its sexy, friendly people, great food, and famous festivals. But now we can add something to the list of things to love- sustainable Latin American fashion brands.
We always knew Latinas had style – but we had no idea just how ethical Latina American fashion was until now! Here are some of the best, most ethical brands we found, from sunny Mexico to sultry Argentina.
This brand from Ecuador is fighting to keep local artisan traditions alive. For example, their beaded necklaces and bracelets come from the southern region of Loja, where indigenous women weave rainbows, stars, mountain, animals and leaves into some of their designs – they’re all inspired by nature, as well as Andean cosmology.
Their bags, on the other hand, are crafted from 100% cabuya fiber that’s coloured with 100% vegetable dyes. Featuring simple, roomy styles, these totes and bucket bags are guaranteed to add a touch of Boho chic to any outfit.
Love accessories with an ethnic touch? South American brand Sensi Studio focuses their work on creating the ultimate artisanal Ecuadorian accessory – the traditional toquilla straw hat. It’s handmade using an ancient weaving technique that is being revived and maintained by the label in not only hats, but tops, dresses, bags and other accessories, too.
Eluxe is very fond of Mexico’s Hacienda Montaecristo, which was launched by two fashionistas with Italian origins, Francesca Bonato and Jacopo Janniello Ravagnan. While roaming through Mexico’s flea markets they were conquered by the traditional “rebozo”, a long flat garment used by women mostly in the region that can be be worn folded or wrapped around the head or upper body to shade from the sun.
Intrigued by the gorgeous material, these two designers incorporated it into bags, shawls, and even shoes–and Hacienda Montaecristo was born. Francesca sells her goods in shops around North America and Mexico, as well in Coqui Coqui, the hotel in Tulum she co-owns with her husband Nicolas Malleville.
Madonna fan. Pride supporter. Hardcore vegan. Citizen of the world. This just about sums up Peruvian designer Roger Loayza, whose modern, elegant men’s and women’s wear collections completely shun animal products of any kind. Roger is also dedicated to the concept of slow fashion, refusing to create several collections every year, and instead producing classic designs that are perennially chic.
In the ancient rural village of Teotitlà¡n del Valle, near Oaxaca in Mexico, skilled artisans have been hand crafting woven products for generations. Manos Zapotecas has brought together these top quality, handwoven products to socially conscious buyers across the country, ensuring the weavers receive a fair price for their intensive labour.
This is a platform that connects artisans with new markets, helps to spread the artistry of the Mexican region and its Zapotec people, empowering communities through fair trade.
Alida Boer, a former Miss Guatemala, is so proud of her country’s Mayan traditions she decided to devote herself to a fashion project that would preserve local textiles and methods of weaving whilst giving women of her region the chance to establish themselves as entrepreneurs through their artistic skills.
Each bag reflects the Mayan culture through the vivid colours and expressive creativity of the design. The fine embroidery of the bags uncovers geometric shapes, animals, landscapes, flowers and shares the country’s culture through the myths, rituals, legends, and old customs portrayed on each bag.
Argentine women are known all over South America for their slim, model-like figures (a miracle, coming from the land of dulce de leche!) and they usually like to show these off in curve-clutching clothing. But on a cold winter’s night, nothing’s better than an oversized jumper, poncho or shawl from Animana.
Roomy, forgiving, and made from the softest Patagonian raised alpaca, these garments are naturally dyed too. And they’re so fine, you can layer them up for extra warmth without feeling at all bulky.
Getting dressed up to go out for dinner is a way of life in Argentina, and this designer creates slinky pieces that are perfect for just that. Each piece in her collection is made from surplus materials, thus reducing landfill. We love the pops of citrus colours that appear on these otherwise neutrally hued backgrounds.
Argentina isn’t just full of gorgeous men and cattle – there are plenty of sheep there, too – and Nido uses these free range fluffies to create its simple, handmade knitwear. Spun and dyed in the old-fashioned way in small batches, Nido uses traditional tools and the knitting skills that local women inherited from their grandmothers to create warm and wooly sweaters and accessories. As a result of this artisanal process, every Nido garment is a bit different; it’s special and unique because it is handmade from beginning to end.
10. PAKA, Peru
Taking inspiration from a time when we really connected with the earth and our surroundings, PAKA is a brand born on the outskirts of Cusco, Peru, which supports Peruvian women by enabling them to share their craft with the world whilst earning a living doing so.
Their comfy knits alpaca and pima cotton knits not only play homage to generations of artistry, but they’re also three times lighter than sheep’s wool. And with a slew of celebrity fans, from Chance The Rapper and band The Chainsmokers, Peruvian women and their artisanal traditions are truly becoming globally recognised for the artistic works they create.
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