September signals the beginning of pumpkin spice latte season, sweather weather, and New York Fashion Week. Although we mostly get caught up in the chisme (we still haven’t fully recovered from the time Cardi B sat next to Anna Wintour at Alexander Wang) and highlights of more established designers, this week represents so much for up-and-coming talents. The chance to show their collections at New York Fashion Week is perhaps the climax for many designers, who put in long hours, all-nighters, and thousands of dollars into creating a collection.

For Latinos, the chances are even smaller, as they navigate the often complicated nepotism and politics of the fashion industry. To be honest, NWFW’s history of embracing Latino designers (other than Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, or Isabel Toledo) is mediocre at best. This is why crops of Latino designers have created their own platforms – Uptown Fashion Week, being one of them – to provide a space for Latin American and Latino designers to showcase their collections in New York City.

Still, a wave of Latino talent is rising through the ranks – winning VFiles’ Season 10 Runway and becoming creative directors of legacy fashion houses, for example. Here are the Latino and Latin American designers we’re keeping an eye on this season.

1

Elena Vélez

Puerto Rican Elena Vélez showed her collection in the VFiles Season 10 Runway show at Brooklyn’s Barcalys Center on Wednesday. The Milwaukee-born designer, who started making a name for herself at 15, is a product of Parsons the New School for Design in New York City and Paris.

Her latest collection is inspired by WWII and the spaces in between war and conflict, providing a minimalist approach to clothing that is mostly focused on the fabrics’ textures and shapes.

2

Gabriela Hearst

Gabriela Hearst, an Uruguayan accessories and clothing designer, is the winner of the 2017 Womenswear Woolmark Prize. She’s also a member of the Council of Fashion Designers of America. Hearst (née Perezutti) has established a reputation as a handbag and women’s suits designer, which have earned her celebrity clients, such as Gabrielle Union and Christine Baranski. And her designs have ended up on the Met Gala on Uma Thurman, Laura Dern, and Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Her show is scheduled for Tuesday, September 11, 2018.

3

Fernando García

Fernando García is the co-creative director (along with partner Laura Kim) of Oscar de la Renta and Monse. The Dominican designer has established a long career as a designer, first studying architecture in Paris and then interning at Oscar de la Renta. Garcia co-founded the contemporary label Monse in 2015. He and Kim’s label is a buzzy clothing line embraced by celebrities, such as Sarah Jessica Parker and Margot Robbie. The Monse show is scheduled for Friday, September 7, 2018, while Oscar de la Renta’s will take place on Tuesday, September 11, 2018.

4

Mery Racauchi and Sofia Resing

Mery Racauchi is an Argentine designer showcasing in New York Fashion Week’s Style 360 platform. She is the co-founder of Mery Playa, alongside Brazilian model Sofia Resing. The swimwear line is a colorful display of bikinis and beach accessories that aligns with Racauchi’s polychromatic aesthetic. Their show is scheduled for Tuesday, September 11, 2018.

5

Benito Santos

Benito Santos is a Mexican designer, best known for his work with pageant and bridal gowns. His aesthetic combines a classic style with a Latin American flare, that includes big florals, ruffles, and elaborate sleeves. Santos has dressed celebrities, such as Thalía and Ximena Navarrete. His runway show is part of Uptown Fashion Week, a platform created to showcase Latin American fashion designers. This year, Santos is celebrating 10 years in the fashion business.

6

Raul López

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Raul López is the designer behind indie label Luar, a 2018 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund finalist. López hails from the now-defunct label Hood by Air, which he co-founded with Shayne Oliver. With Luar, López is bringing a futuristic approach to minimalist fashion that celebrates the fluidity of gender and shapes with oversized jackets, button-down shirts, and blazers. His pieces have been worn by Kylie Jenner and Rihanna. His show is scheduled for September 12, 2018.