News / Culture

Why Chicago Latino Fashion Matters

Make room LA and NYC, the CHI is creeping up on the fashion world. Chitown Latinos are not your average Midwesterners. We got a bit more style then most in this region of the world and we now boast with a nice selection of up and coming local Latino designers.

It is becoming less and less rare to hear of fashion events in Chicago. Designer shows, trunk shows and new boutiques are an ever present growing entity in the city. Established and young aspiring designers are deciding to make Chicago their fashion haven.

Chicago fashion is an incredibly important and integral part of the Chicago urban culture. Everywhere you go from Humboldt Park to Pilsen you see young and old Latinos alike making statements using the garments they wear. From hip hop to hipster to classic and unique, Latinos have style and it is a style to be reckoned with.

Mayor Daley has realized the importance that Chicago is beginning to carry within the fashion industry and is making it a point to integrate this industry into the local culture. Chicago Fashion Focus and Chicago Latino Fashion Week are 2 installments much like the New York Fashion Week at Bryant Park. Latinos like Mario Pinto, James De Colon and Anna Fong all have presented their line in these shows and all are local designers stationed right here in Chicago in neighborhoods like Pilsen and Wicker Park. The fashion industry is becoming ever more diverse and Chicago Latino designers are definitely a strength within it.

What is even greater is the fact that many of these designers are Latinos and Latinas. It seems that insiders are catching wind of the unlimited possibilities that Chicago is presenting them and taking advantage. Who can forget the incredible designs by Maria Pinto, that first lady Michelle Obama donned during the presidential election and the most recent Maria Pinto pieces that will be showcased at the Grammys? The Chi has made it and the often underestimated Chicago Latino designers in the industry are beginning to show their abilities.

Ask any Chicago Latina who is a fashion diva and you will definitely get an ear full about what they know about fashion. And truth be told, they know a lot. Latinas and Latinos have a deep rooted flare within them that allows them to dress with a unique fluidity. Our culture is filled with beautiful costumes from the traditional folk wear of ancestral dancers to the complex garments of the Spanish flamenco dancers and bullfighters. It is not surprising that many of the local designers are indeed of some Hispanic or Latino descent.

Don’t let the name confuse you; Anna Fong, of Guatemalan and Chinese descent, is definitely a Latina who is truly building a reputation amongst her Chicago fans as an incredible designer who understands how to design clothing for the multi-faceted Chicago woman. She knows the Midwestern woman is all about clothing that transitions well from day to night as well as from personality to personality. She has definitely been shaking up the fashion powers that be while supporting other local Chicago Latino designers.

Over the last 2 years she has come a long way from winning the 2007 AOL Latinos Fashionistas competition to where she is today. You can see many of her designs in stores like Macy’s, Ledress and Malabar Chicago, but she always makes it a point to let her fans know that she does do custom. She understands how to design for the curvy Latina and makes her items locally in her Chicago studio in Pilsen (1932 S. Halsted Suite 504). Her work is unique and high quality and made with the many Midwestern Chicago Latinas in mind out there.

Latin designers such as Elda De La Rosa, Horacio Nieto, James De Colon and Maria Pinto are becoming household names nationwide and are making us Chicagoans quite proud! As a culture who believes in supporting one another it is great to see these designers giving one another props for the hard work they each have endured over the last few years.

That hard work can definitely be seen in the recent installment of the Chicago Latino Fashion Week. It brought celebrities and socialites and renowned designers right into the heart of the Midwest. The Latino charged event week this past November hosted hair shows, student showcases, rising stars events, collaborations with the San Juan Fashion Group, a masquerade ball and of course the “El Fin” event at the Drake Hotel. Not only was the work great but it demonstrated camaraderie at its best.

The Chicago Latino fashion scene has grown in importance and the alliances and work is stronger than ever.  The work of these designers is rooted not only in the rich and beautiful artistic culture of our ancestors, but the surroundings that many of these designers grew up in. These artists are Chicago designers and they are proud of their Midwestern Latin roots and that can be seen in their work. They design for the people and they create for the Chicago Latinos.

I am also proud to include myself as a new designer on the Latino Chicago scene as the designer and co-founder of Thrift – for the good find, a Chicago based eco friendly fashion line of hand reconstructed and hand painted vintage garments. The line focuses on wearable art with a hip hop and urban street wear appeal for both men and women. The line can be found on Myspace. Keep checking back to the CHIRemezcla fashion section for some great Chicago fashion insight! Feel free to hit me up with any comments or suggestions on any Chicago fashion.