Fashion trends rooted in Latin American culture

Miss LAC winner Ari Rodriguez wears the traditional dress of Chiapas,
Mexico. Saturday, February 13, 2021.(Photo by: Xander Ordinola)
Miss LAC winner Ari Rodriguez wears the traditional dress of Chiapas, Mexico. Saturday, February 13, 2021.(Photo by: Xander Ordinola)

When it comes to style, we don’t often pay any mind to the original root of our outfit choices. I think it’s fair to assume that most of our fashion influences come from the cool pictures we see on Pinterest, or for those who pay a little bit more attention, from the trends forecasted on seasonal runway shows. But where do fashion designers get their inspiration? It’s not uncommon for designers to dive into one culture to inspire their entire fashion line.

Oscar de la Renta of the Dominican Republic is one of the best-known fashion designers in the world. Carolina Herrera of Venezuela designed dresses for five American first ladies. She also designed Ivanka Trump’s inaugural ball gown. Nina Garcia of Colombia is the editor-in-chief of “Elle magazine” and a judge on “Project Runway.” Needless to say, there is a ton of Latin-American influence in the fashion industry. For a list of other influential names, check out the article titled “Most successful Latinos in the fashion industry” on “The Latin Way’s” website.

It is important to take note of the expansiveness of Latin American culture, and not only within the world of fashion. Including the cultures of over 20 countries, the influences of these Latin American countries are incredibly multifaceted and nuanced. Consequently, while we educate ourselves on how the complexity and richness of Latin American culture has affected aspects of our lives today, we should keep this expansiveness in mind.

So, what modern-day fashion trends come from such rich culture?

  1. Huaraches

According to an article published by “The Culture Trip,” the roots of these handmade, woven leather sandals pre-date the European colonization of Mexico. Although the true origin is unclear, the sandals supposedly originate from the Mexican states of Yucatán, Jalisco and Michoacán. Both the style and name of the sandals have been copied by brands such as Toms, Urban Outfitters and Nike. Huaraches come in a variety of styles and colors and today stand as a staple piece for many outfits. 

  1. Cowboy Hats and Boots

Did you know that the original cowboys were actually the vaqueros of Mexico who herded cattle and wore wide-brimmed hats to block out the sun? According to an article published by “HipLatina,” although the herding techniques were brought from Spain, the original cowboys come from Northern Mexico, and their influence pervaded northward and into America. So, the next time you’re shopping for those super trendy red cowboy boots, remember where they came from. 

  1. Culottes and Gaucho pants

Now that wide-leg pants are very much “in,” it’s likely you’ll run into the style of pants influenced by the pants originally worn by nomadic horsemen in Argentina, Uruguay, Peru, Brazil and Chile. These ultra-wide legged, cropped and comfortable styles of pants were originally made of leather and used as a layer of protection while riding. Today, these pants are made with various other materials and not for horseback riding, but they still resemble the same original look and provide the same comfort, according to an article published by “Exploring Uruguay.”

  1. Carriels

The expandable and over-the-shoulder style bag was originally used by coffee farmers in Colombia. It was designed to carry as much as possible with its accordion-style body. The style of this purse has paved the way for the “saddlebags” of fashion houses such as Dior and Valentino, according to an article published by “Who What Wear.” 

Other trends within the fashion world, such as brightly colored patterns, intricate embroidery and off-the-shoulder tops, have also been traced back to Latin American origins. It is vital that we recognize and credit where these trends come from. Cultural appropriation runs rampant within the fashion industry, and important history is erased in the process. We must do our best to not take advantage of but ensure the survival of cultures that provide us with so much rich beauty and history.

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