It is 2017, and we are shifting. We are finding new ways to live our technological or millennial lives. I can see a bifurcation coming in terms of society: those who are strengthening their livelihoods into capitalism even more, and those waking up from their dormant state to a conscious, more sensitive, kinder, and fuller life. I have chosen -without even realizing it- to be in the second patch of people, and my route has led me to find like-minded beings who are striving and fighting from their own perspectives to be part of a better and healthier world, to both sustain our planet and sustain fashion.
Obviously, this is where concepts like sustainability, ecology, happiness, slow life, hygee, ethics and openness come across. Some may think we are just some kind of hippie resurrection, but we are actually very intellectual and grounded people dreaming of breathing and living intensely, feeling everything intensely. I can totally say that Latin America is a little behind on this, as most of the people of this patch are elsewhere; but I do believe South America is one of the lands that were promised, a paradise to be amplified, and Latin people are going to wake up. You can feel it in the air, in their voices, in their conversations, in their clothes. We are coming back to rescue what once was our identity to fuse it with what we are becoming. That is what I call sustainability, the ability to sustain.
Traveling from Mexico to Argentina, you can find diversity, expression, attention-callers and surprise after surprise. The richness of this land is not only given by the beautiful and exuberant landscapes, but also by its people. We are all quite different, our cultures do not resemble from one another - this is our uniqueness - but we do share a greater something: hope. Latin America is the mixture of the world, we are the result of a big cooking session, meaning that those ingredients were from here, from there, and from far away, but this has made us who and how we are. Resilient, persistent, hard-workers, and joyous. Today, we are awakening from years of economic and cultural submission, executing our right to be and to exist, and showing that we have a pure identity ready to be valued.
I have to establish that one of the main reasons we are coming back to life is because we have a wise ancestral heritage that taught us how to listen to the Earth. There are so many natural accidents happening nowadays, so many damages, so many decisions made by humans that are jeopardizing the Mother Earth and our own existence, that this leads us, as a collective, to rise up in harmony with this world. Even though we are behind the first world’s advances and activities on sustainability, the few of us who are getting together are creating a very strong and consistent community based on what we know. Yes, in Latin America it is either black or white, you are either immersed in vague consumerism, or you are rising above materialism and acknowledging that you can be the change and create with others a better life for yourself.
Now, how can this be done in third world democracies? Applying the greater something: hope. They say that it is the last thing you can lose, so we better attach ourselves to it. The fashion industry being the second most polluting in the world is something we must take into account when speaking of building a healthier life quality. In the imagination of people, clothes are just superficial and frivolous, and of course, this has been fed by the glamour surrounding it in order to sell a life that won’t be ours, since fast fashion was born circa 1994.
I would say that they think that fashion is what is in or out at the moment; they would be surprised if we enlighten them with the fact that it is everything involving clothes, humans, historical time, and space. Actually, what we wear speaks for ourselves beforehand, it is what introduces us, what spots our mood and personality, where we live, where we are from, what we believe in, and even our sexuality. So, I would think twice when calling it frivolous, wouldn’t you?
Moreover, sustainability appears in the rear mirror, and this is where these two great masses collide: sustainable fashion. We are talking about clothes that revalue all these special characteristics of our identity, adding those of the people who made them and having a positive impact in our economy and world. A lot in just one dress, but it is the mere truth of where we are heading. Latin America may not have enough money resources, but we do have creative minds that are willing to be as resourceful as possible. We are bringing together our innate gift of listening to nature with the love for our people and clothing.
Latin America Awakes
From some years ago to now, all along our territory, more and more projects, entrepreneurs, and fashion brands have grown with the purpose of making this world a little bit better for living, while helping communities to develop and applying what they most love: fashion. Our people are building a patch of “those waking up” out from their passion and awareness, out of their ability to sustain both human life and our planet’s. Fashion has led us to rethink how we do things, and to have a greater and more coherent integrality in our decisions, choices, and relationships with others. I believe it is the most massive art we have as humanity, and we can express ourselves and our beliefs through it, so we better communicate a message of love, hope and harmony.
Latin American fashion is a message of us awakening with the world and sustaining it.
This article is a guest post by Valentina Suarez.
Valentina Suárez, 22, is a fashion designer who specializes in sustainable design. She is president of the foundation, Entre Soles and Lunas. Since 2016, she has been the co-founder and general director of the international sustainable fashion platform MOLA, Latin American Fashion. She is the owner and designer of the sustainable fashion brand DOLMEN, which co-produces MOLA as well.
Stylist, runway coordinator, costume designer, graphic designer, and nowadays, Suarez is a shoe illustrator and ambassador and advisor of Slow Fashion World.