'The time is right' for Latin American designers to go mainstream, says Nina Garcia the new 'Elle' editor

The Latin Curated retail and showroom space at 138 Wooster in New York. (Photo: Isabella Dorelli)

A new platform for Latin American designers to showcase during NYFW has debuted — in large part thanks to the help of Nina Garcia, who on Tuesday was named the new editor in chief of Elle magazine. The new platform is called Latin Curated and boasts 40 Latin American designers in a monthlong pop-up space that is part retail and part showroom right in the heart of SoHo, Manhattan.

The retail space features a tightly curated area that is entirely shoppable and features ready-to-wear, swimwear, leather goods, and accessories from Fall/Winter 2017. Upstairs is the showroom where select press and buyers have the opportunity to preview the 40 designers’ Spring/Summer 2018 collections. Yahoo Style caught up with Garcia, an ambassador for Latin Curated, to discuss the new platform concept and why it made sense for the pop-up to occur during NYFW.

Nina Garcia, editor in chief of Elle, judge on Project Runway and ambassador for Latin Curated. (Photo: Courtesy of Latin Curated/Getty)

Garcia, who is Colombian, credits her deep roots to her home country as first sparking her interest and then sequential journey toward the inception of Latin Curated. Garcia visits Latin America often, one, so her two children can “be rich in their culture and speak Spanish,” but also to attend Bogotá Fashion Week. At first, Garcia didn’t know what to expect from the Bogotá Fashion Week collections, but recalls, “When I saw what was coming out of there, I was really surprised and really impressed. I think that’s when all the dots connected.”

Even with all the fashion talent blossoming in Latin America, as of now, there are only a handful of established Latin American designers who are recognizable on a global scale — such as Edgardo Osorio of Aquazzurra, Johanna Ortiz, Daniela Villegas, or Oscar de la Renta.

With that in mind, Garcia thought there needed to be a way to bring these burgeoning designers to the forefront of fashion editors’ minds. Realizing it would be difficult to get New York’s fashion editors to visit Colombia, she thought she would try bringing Colombia to New York.

It was then that Garcia, alongside Latin Curated’s creative director, Lorena Cuevas, and Paula Pena, who oversees Latin Curated’s designer curation — brought the Latin Curated concept to life. They enlisted two of the biggest fashion powerhouses — Lambert & Associates for the retail side and KCD on the PR side — to help bring Latin Curated to the forefront of the fashion industry. And being the fashion-savvy team they are, they had this pop-up take place during New York Fashion Week.

“The time is right for us to help the designers, to showcase the designers, to really introduce things that are unique and special and have a lot of artisanal craftsmanship behind it,” Garcia says.

The Latin Curated retail space, open to the public until Sept. 30. (Photo: Isabella Dorelli)

The fashion industry has a “real duty to speak up for what we believe in, for being inclusive, for collaborating, for making sure that fashion has the possibility to really change the perspective of [the] people,” Garcia adds. Giving Latin American designers a more mainstream audience is one way to put that philosophy into practice.

Although the experience level among the 40 showcasing designers is varied, the connection between all of them is their level of craftsmanship, dedication, and passion. A few standout designers from the group include Atelier Crump, whose tailoring expertise is top-notch, and Mulierr, whose knits are handmade with organic cotton.

In the future, Latin Curated has plans to travel to the other big-three fashion week cities — London, Milan, and Paris — and eventually enter the Asian marketplace. But for now, if you’re lucky enough to be in New York for the month of September, be sure to check out the Latin Curated retail space located at 138 Wooster Street in Manhattan.

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