Walking into Latin Curated's new SoHo pop-up shop, you're instantly captivated by the abundance of prints, colors, and energy. Handbags with red and yellow hand-stitched birds adorn the closest shelves, while ruffled florals catch your eye in the back and displays of gold jewelry draw you to the center. The space itself evokes a sense of joy, but it's the guests and designers excited for their new collections that really got the party going for the space's NYFW debut Thursday.
This festive setup is the first embodiment of Latin Curated, a new organization that serves as an intermediary between emerging and more established Latin American designers and retailers, press, and consumers. Its goal is to bring unique and sustainable items—including geometric handbags, floral dresses, hand-cut leathers, and oversize gold brooches—made by more than 40 of Latin America's fashion up-and-comers to the mainstream market.
Nina Garcia, Marie Claire creative director and former Project Runway judge, helped host 300 guests at the opening celebration. A native of Colombia, Garcia has a deep connection to her home country and the fashion industry in Central and South America: "I make a point to visit a few times every year, and I'm always awestruck at the innovation and creativity," she says.
"When I was in Bogotá for Fashion Week earlier this year, I decided the rest of the world had to see the creativity I was witnessing. That's when I got involved with Latin Curated," Garcia says. "Having been in the American fashion industry for many years, I'm able to act as a steward between Latin American designers and the global fashion market."
This call for original, meaningful design motivated Latin Curated creative director Lorena Cuevas to get involved in the initiative. "It has been very difficult for Latin American designers to reach a global audience," she says, noting obstacles of accessibility and cost. "Now, with Latin Curated, we are joining together to create a system that supports our most talented designers and celebrates our unique design process and point of view."
And with New York Fashion Week kicking off the twice-yearly hunt for the new and fresh, Latin America's hand-craftsmanship and culturally inspired design may just fit the bill. "Customers are demanding uniqueness, transparency, quality craftsmanship, and storytelling," Garcia says. "Latin American designers offer all of that quite naturally."
While the shop doors close at the end of September, Latin Curated will continue to introduce exciting new brands on Instagram—with ambitions for e-commerce and an expanded physical presence in the future. So as the fashion industry opens up to welcome a more diverse community and shoppers eschew soulless clothes for those with their own stories, Latin Curated seems exactly the right destination for the modern customer.