What do fashion designers Oscar de la Renta, Narciso Rodriguez, Carolina Herrera and Lazaro Hernandez (co-founder of Proenza Schouler) all have in common? Latin American roots. While the aforementioned are all very well established, a website launched last year aims to introduce a new generation of designers from the region to a worldwide audience.
Cooperativa is the brainchild of Araceli Graham, a Mexico City native who as a high-school student started a fashion accessories line that she sold to El Palacio de Hierro (the Mexican Neiman Marcus) before moving to the US 13 years ago and working as an executive for the likes of Coca-Cola and GlaxoSmithKline. The idea for the e-boutique was borne out of seeing “lots of emerging designers doing cool things that were more professional, less folkloric than before. I saw a lot of potential.”
The site sells pieces by more than 50 designers from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela and Costa Rica – designers Graham felt had a “very defined DNA and who also incorporate their culture, in some way, into their designs”. The plethora of offerings – many never before readily available outside their countries of origin – includes clothing, shoes, bags and jewellery. A geometrically patterned and modernly shaped off-the-shoulder blouse ($320) by Carla Fernandez, a fashion designer with several boutiques in Mexico City, is made from fabric woven on a pedal loom and hand-dyed in Tenancingo, Mexico. Adriana Santacruz’s Halcon coat ($356) is a contemporary take on traditional ponchos; Ballen Pellettiere’s gorgeous embossed leather Xarin crossbody bag ($1,283) is a classic day-to-evening design; while Tres Almas’ 24ct-gold-plated Anjo Wings earrings ($286) would be a chic and sparkly addition to any festive outfit.
Some of the items are made to order, such as the gold-metallic wide-leg trousers ($1,360) made from crinkled silk and velvet lamé by Kris Goyri. With an estimated production time of 10 days, a pair could still be ordered in time for New Year’s Eve.