Made-in-Mexico fashion is here to stay
Donald Trump has been surrounded by provocation and controversy since he took office as president of the United States in 2017, so his call to consume more American-made goods whilst threatening the close the US border with Mexico has been met with a mixed reaction from the Latin American country. His stance has left Mexicans feeling unsettled, but it has also sparked a spirit of pride for Mexican manufacturing and craftsmanship. Since then, many have embraced Mexican-made products across a variety of sectors, including fashion.
In an interview with FashionNetwork.com, Anuar Layón, a Mexican menswear and womenswear designer who grabbed the headlines in 2016 for his ‘Mexico is the shit’ bomber jacket, insists the country has been able to benefit from an unprecedented level of media attention.
“Since Trump’s declarations there has definitely been a change in the consumption of local products both in Mexico and abroad. There was so much talk about Mexico that it was the best publicity we could have had. Today, international platforms allow us to have a much greater capacity and reach more consumers than we would have had otherwise,” Layón says.
Meanwhile, César Flova, founder of Ocelote, a brand of wardrobe essentials, suggests that the migration crisis between the two North American countries has boosted demand for Mexican-made products.
“As Mexican, the current situation has hit as hard… The [border crisis] had made us more aware that if you spend money in Mexico, the money will stay in our country,” the Coahuila-born designer explains.
Contrarily, Gina Barrios, founder of Caravana Americana, the leading trade show for luxury design in Latin America, said that Donald Trump’s claims have had no effect on its customers and that the growing trend for ‘Made in Mexico’ goods responds to an increase in “original and better quality” products.
“There are two sides in the industry. I know the demographic who shops at Caravana Americana. They were not affected by, nor did they care about Trump’s comments because since the first day of the fair, they have bought [Latin American] emerging luxury design,” she says.
Along the same lines, Alfredo Farah, who is sales representative of Carla Fernández, a fashion brand championing sustainable fashion and local craftsmanship, believes that the growing interest in Mexican-made products has been a longer process.
“When Carla Fernández was becoming a more established brand, many Mexican designers began to emerge showing an incredible vision for fashion and who had nothing to envy from Europe or any other part of the world. The opening of new trade fairs and the opportunity to sell fashion online helped get the word out and many fashion agents came to Mexico for different reasons, creating instances to meet new designers,” says Farah.
In search of Mexico’s artisanal fashion
César Flova works with his own team to create timeless, unisex and minimalist garments under his Ocelote brand. With an almost 100% Mexican maquila and materials such as cotton, jersey, linen and velvet, the brand’s clothing is created outside traditional fashion calendars, with numerical collections based on the Fibonacci sequence.
“The Mexican fashion consumer is very intelligent, demanding and knowledgeable and has access to many national and international brands thanks to ecommerce. Whilst consumers are still very comfortable with fast fashion, in the last two years I have seen an encouraging change. More and more Mexicans are starting to realise and understand what is behind local products: fair trade, artisanal and premium features, and a much better service and design than anything else on the market,” explains Flova.
On the other hand, the stronger demand for Mexican and Latin American fashion has also coincided with a higher appreciation for luxury craftsmanship, a concept that resonates with the 450 international buyers who attend Caravana Americana, Barrios says.
“The new [concept of] luxury values rarity, the hard to get, the natural fibres, the craftsmanship… International buyers are more interested in designers who work with craftsmen, whose collections are different and original. In the case of Mexico, they are struck by their workforce, the iconography, the use of traditional textiles in fashion garments and even materials such as leather,” the fair’s founder asserts.
Bridging the gap between the online and offline channels
“Mexican fashion no longer caters exclusively for the upper class. Today there is an offering for everyone. That is precisely the magic of social media networks,” says Layón, who became the first designer to collaborate with Amazon Fashion, alongside Lorena Saravia, on a see-now-buy-now collection in Mexico during the latest Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week Mexico.
Online has also become a space for shoppers looking to buy locally-made products, with ecommerce platform Linio launching a Mexican Talent initiative in 2017 to showcase a selection of products Made in Mexico. The campaign, still going strong, has allowed many suppliers and manufacturers who product 100% Mexican products to sell their goods online, including furniture, clothing and even technology.
According to data recorded by the ecommerce platform and seen by FashionNetwork.com, 40% of Mexican shoppers are willing to pay more for a locally-made, original and high-quality product. Additionally, 19% have bought a Mexican-made product to support local manufacturers, while 14% have done so to support the country’s economy.
As sales of locally-made products continue to rise, only time will tell if the trend is here to stay. But one thing is certain. Mexico is finally making a name for itself and attracting interest for its design talent, originality and materials.
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