Designers Share Personal Insights for Hispanic and Latinx Heritage Month

Four fashion designers discuss their journeys, weaving cultural pride into their creations.

Image from the Fall/Winter 2023 Andes Collection from Carolina K. 

During the month-long celebration of Hispanic Heritage, spanning from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15, we pay tribute to the indelible stories of designers who’ve not only left their mark on the fashion landscape, but have woven their identities into their work with a profound connection to their heritage. Additionally, we extend our recognition to encompass the rich narratives of Latinx culture, as well.

What is Hispanic and Latinx heritage month?

First, it’s essential to distinguish between the two terms: “Latinx” refers to people from Latin America (Mexico, South and Central America), while “Hispanic” denotes those from countries that are historically Spanish-speaking. Both terms have complex histories and interpretations.

This month provides a unique opportunity to reflect on the history, culture and contributions of individuals with Latinx or Hispanic heritage to American arts. For Marina Larroude, cofounder of Larroudé, it’s “a moment to celebrate the Latin community that has chosen [the U.S.] as their home. It’s a moment to pay our respects to this incredible—and resilient—community, who, in large part, came to America in pursuit of prosperity and work. And while Latinx Heritage Month is important, I truly believe that this community should be celebrated each and every month because diversity should be celebrated daily.”

While strides for inclusivity have been made, there are still challenges that Hispanic and Latinx professionals face. Designers Luciana and Anna Martinez, of the swimwear brand Lybethras, articulate the struggle, stating that Hispanic and Latinx designers occasionally find it challenging to gain notice in the U.S. They call for greater unity in  the design community, fostering a space for Latinx designers to thrive collectively.

Let’s take a moment to spotlight remarkable Hispanic and Latinx-owned brands and hear, in their own words, what their heritage means to them. Beyond the allure of runways and trendsetting designs, these designers share personal insights into what this month signifies and how their rich cultural backgrounds infuse vitality into their creations.

Marina Larroude, Cofounder of Larroudé

Lifestyle image from Larroudé.

Lifestyle image from Larroudé.

Marina Larroude, alongside Ricardo Larroude, cofounder of the renowned shoe brand Larroudé, is a fusion of fashion acumen and business innovation. With over two decades in the industry, Marina reflects on her Brazilian pride and its influence on her work, stating, “I have so much pride as a Brazilian, and I’ve created my line as a reflection of our culture, the colors, the whimsy and the joyful that all feels very Latin to me.”

Her commitment to Brazil extends beyond design with the brand’s impact on the local community. “Since we built our own factory there, we now proudly employ 70 people, including health insurance for them and their extended families,” Marina proudly shares. Impeccable work and a celebration of Brazilian craftsmanship define Larroudé’s unique footprint.

Carolina Kleinman, founder of Carolina K

Carolina Kleinman, the force behind Carolina K, emerges as a champion of artisan communities throughout Latin America. With a legacy spanning two decades, Carolina empowers and preserves cultural textile techniques. Her latest collection, Andes, pays tribute to her roots in the Sacred Valley of Peru and the heart of Latin America.

Carolina reflects on her heritage, saying, “My work is rooted in my Latinx heritage, as we use ancestral techniques prominent in the regions where I partner with artisans. My designs always have an element inspired by Latin American culture.”

Luciana and Anna Martinez, Designers of Lybethras

Lorena Durán was photographed by Ben Watts in Puerto Rico. Swimsuit by Lybethras. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry.

Lorena Durán was photographed by Ben Watts in Puerto Rico. Swimsuit by Lybethras. Earrings by Jennifer Zeuner Jewelry.

Luciana and Anna Martinez, the creative forces behind Lybethras, put women at the center of their focus. Luciana shares her journey from childhood sewing dolls in Brazil to becoming a swimwear designer. Her brand, meaning “source of muses,” is a woman-owned endeavor that values handmade work. Luciana and Anna emphasize, “Our bikinis have handmade work by Latinx women. We value a woman’s body the way it is—our slogan is beachwear that celebrates your body.”

They elaborate that their “latest collection was inspired [by] Brazilian artist Agnes Farkas Volgyi.” Lybethras not only embraces diversity in body types but also empowers women, as seen in the brand’s latest fashion show, which featured women aged 16 to 62 with various body types and ethnicities.

Clara Lago Rashidian, Founder of pītusa

Clara Lago Rashidian, founder of pītusa, infuses her Spanish and English heritage into her brand, reflecting a vibrant, lighthearted aesthetic. Clara shares, “My Spanish heritage influences my work in profound ways, sometimes not conscious but part of who I am.” The brand pays homage to Peru, incorporating traditional craftsmanship, embroidery and textile techniques.

pītusa’s commitment extends beyond fashion with pītusa mercado, a platform spotlighting cultural fashion finds from Latin American artisans and microbrands, fostering cultural awareness and pride.

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Mara Milam