Dominated for decades by the catwalks of Paris, Milan, New York and London, fashion’s direction is now being influenced by a much wider set of influences. Designers from across Latin America are among those who in recent years have been gaining an increasingly international following, bringing their unique sense of creativity to the world stage, and e-tailer Cooperativa Shop is helping to spread the word.
Dubbed “the gateway to Latin American luxury and lifestyle” by its founder, Araceli Graham, Cooperativa Shop was launched not only to introduce emerging and locally established design talent across the Americas to the wider world, but as a place to communicate the reality of Latin American culture. “There’s a whole other side to it; a more refined, sophisticated and cosmopolitan culture, and that is what I want to transmit through Cooperativa Shop,” she told The Daily Front Row’s Ashley Baker.
Hailing from a corporate background, it was after moving to the US from her native Mexico twelve years ago that Graham began her fashion career, helping to introduce and establish jewelry designers Olga Prieto, Carla Forte and Mario Bucellati to the American market. Having always been close to many creatives in Mexico, it was during one of her frequent visits home that she started to see that something quite exciting was happening creatively, and the many markets, pop-up shops, art shows and collective events she visited to see her friends showcase and sell their collections inspired her to do the same, but in the United States. She also became acutely aware that having made friends from many other Latin American countries in the US, including Colombia, Chile, Ecuador and Argentina, that there was a side to the Latin culture that was unknown to so many people.
Keen to showcase the region’s craftsmanship as well as its creativity, each of the designers featured by Cooperativa Shop employs centuries-old techniques from their cultural heritage in their distinctly modern collections, from embroidery and authentic tapestry to artisan metal and leather works, and they all support their home communities by employing local artisans. Indeed, the Seed x Cooperativa Shop is a showroom dedicated to sustainability and promoting the craftsmanship of local communities, and brings together the best of Latin America brands that focus on ethically-minded practices.
Graham is constantly searching for new talent to champion, who not only incorporate their heritage and culture into their designs, but also have a powerful story to tell. "There’s a major fashion movement happening all over Latin America right now with a wave of emerging, young, and extraordinarily talented designers who not only incorporate artisanal techniques into their brands, but look at fashion and trends differently and are not afraid of experimenting with their designs," she explained to Who What Wear’s Erin Fitzpatrick.