Stitch Lab, where you can get acquainted with Latin American fashion Designers
Since the 1990s, when the sand and Art Deco buildings of Miami Beach became hot spots for photo sessions for the world’s leading magazines, South Florida has been linked to the world of fashion.
With the photographers came the models, the stylists, the designers, the buyers — and then the fashion stores that opened their doors in Miami.
As the mainland grew in popularity, the retail scene stretched into Wynwood, with its more bohemian shops, and later to the high fashion boutiques of the Design District.
Today, Miami is becoming a launch pad for Latin American designers aiming at the U.S. market.
Stitch Lab, a fashion incubator founded last year in Miami, is offering emerging designers the tools to reach the media, influencers and wholesale buyers.
“I like that word, incubator, because it’s where you keep things warm so they continue to grow. It’s a place with the perfect conditions for something to grow,” said Karina Rosendo, founder and creative director of Stitch Lab.
During her frequent travels abroad when she worked as a television producer, Rosendo saw that Hispanics occupied a limited space in the fashion design cosmos — a status at odds with the extraordinary talent she found in Colombia, Mexico and other Latin American countries.
That’s why she decided to create Stitch Lab, which offers advice on image and branding, largely through consulting agreements and annual events like one scheduled April 26-27 at The M Building in the Wynwood arts district.
Titled “Oasis: A Fashion Utopia,” the pop-up event will showcase and sell the work of 36 Latin American designers. The event includes free workshops and discussions.
Univision presenter Chiquinquirá Delgado, an admirer of Hispanic designers, is championing the event.
“The pop-up is a super-useful tool for designers to test the market and put their products in contact with U.S. consumers for the first time. That helps them to know immediately whether their product works,” said Rosendo.
Camila Straschnoy, fashion director at Stitch Lab, led the selection of participating designers. Her work as a fashion consultant and collaborator with magazines like Elle and InStyle in Latin America frequently puts her on the front lines of fashion shows and allows her to closely follow the work of designers she likes.
“This year I focused on including talent from countries less explored in fashion until now, like maybe Guatemala and El Salvador. My work as a curator was something like being a treasure hunter: I got in contact with designers I met during my trips for fashion weeks around the continent, and chose those who design from a unique and elevated point of view,” said Straschnoy.
She preferred ideas that were different and products with a unique language, which at the same time respect Latin American idiosyncrasies and use a global filter, Straschnoy said.
The selection was designed to appeal to a local audience, and includes clothes appropriate for Miami such as bathing suits and beachwear, she said. Clothes, accessories, shoes, jewelry and handbags will be offered.
A HYBRID SPACE
The Stitch Lab pop-up was inspired by the retail trend that incorporates shopping with experiences such as sharing with friends, establishing relationships and having a good time.
Straschnoy noted that on-line shopping has been growing exponentially because people prefer the convenience. There’s now a new generation of brands that started on the Internet and social networks and have products that reach consumers directly.
But those digital-era brands are also opening brick-and-mortar shops that try to offer unique experiences. The space may be shared with a cafe or a bookstore, like the Gucci store in the Soho neighborhood of New York. It includes a bookstore that specializes in volumes that are rare, antique or about art and decoration — all aligned with what Straschnoy called “the brand’s DNA” and the interests of consumers.
“People need to socialize and find community, because we’re all behind the screens of electronic equipment,” said Straschnoy.
Brick-and-mortar shops that also offer unique experiences allow consumers to interact with the product in a different manner than online.
“When people come to our events they come with their mother, with a couple of friends. They don’t come to buy but to get a picture taken, to learn, to network,” said Rosendo.
The pop-up’s workshops will be ideal for that. One session will focus on how to create a personal style; another will offer tools for personal empowerment and growth.
The goal is to learn how to identify opportunities and create a vision for your personal life, Rosendo said.
The discussions will focus on crucial issues such as sustainability in fashion, the future of the communications media and how to find your voice as a leader of a project or as a brand.
The Stitch Lab pop-up will be held Friday, April 26, 1-7 p.m., and Saturday,11 a.m.-7 p.m. at The M Building, 194 NW 30th St., in Wynwood, 305-573-2130.