MEDELLÍN, Colombia–Due to the influence of indigenous culture, mixed with a modern latino flair, Colombia is now home to some of the hottest fashion forward slow wear brands in the world. Our fashion correspondent Laura Saldarriaga, a native of Medellín, has the inside scoop:
Oropéndola: Having studied fashion design in Medellín, Colombia and later complemented her professional formation with a master in the Luxury Market in Italy, Carolina Vélez became inspired from her surroundings and her love for everything artisanal only grew. Thinking back to her own roots, sought to create a brand that rescues ancestral techniques through the creation of key pieces that sell the country’s ID; from Colombia to the world. Their color palette makes reference to an ancestral language based on the environment where raw-canvas, terracotta and ochre tones reign along with military greens, grey and black. The threads are 100% Cotton with a resin finish to ensure shine and each piece is crafted to celebrate the lines of the female body.
CHECK IT OUT: Webpage & Instagram
PRICE: Approximately from 30 to 1,200 USD
WHERE TO BUY: Stores are located in Medellín and Cartagena (Colombia) and San José (Costa Rica) and the good news is they ship internationally.
Bocanegra: Sofia Jaramillo, like most young entrepreneurs, grew up with strong passions and a deep curiosity which drove her to experiment with different career paths until deciding upon psychology. Bocanegra was born from her love of creating, which she explains is a therapeutic process of creation starting from the thoughts and then expressed through the hands. The name was chosen by her son, who became obsessed with the pirate named Bocanegra (BlackBeard in english literature), and personifies the brand as a being who finds treasures through his thoughts, words and travels, that tell his story and enrich it. Sofia explains that the beads are actually from glass, brought from Japan, to differentiate from the classic plastic ones that are massively used and in Colombian culture are viewed as ‘hippie’ and therefore cheap. “No one produces glass shapes this small here, so it’s become sort of a project that I have with this EAFIT student, to see whether he can step up to the challenge of making me a glass bead this small.”
Bocanegra is against contamination to the environment so their policy is Zero plastic. The weaving is carried out by female students on scholarships, Sofia teaches them how to weave and gives them the guides to the formats and materials necessary for each product. The idea is to help these young women earn extra money while studying and fight against the dropout rate, which is mostly due to lack of economic resources to pay for transport, food and study materials.
“I don’t press the girls with deadlines, they work on their free time and this is what ensures a good weaving. I tell my clients an approximate wait time for their custom pieces, and this is to make sure they are done well. I remember I had a friend in university who needed to work, and the only thing you can think of is working at a bar or waitressing, and these are things that really require a lot of time. Time which you don’t always have right at that moment,” Sofia said.
Entreaguas: In a country with both the Pacific ocean and the Caribbean sea, colorful swimwear brands thrive under the sun. One of them has set itself apart from the rest from the very beginning by incorporating macramé into their pieces. Founder Natalia Botero has always been a natural creative, mixing art and fashion from a young age to produce unique garments that she sold across the country. While studying fashion design in 2012, she began her journey on a quest to preserve artisanal techniques and values through swimwear with a sophisticated flair. Her team of artisans is also a social foundation and is composed of mothers who are heads of the household, people with physical discapacities and young adults who are in process of reintegration to society. A lesson on dedication can be learned from these artisans, as each piece requires the work of 17 people and approximately 38 hours.
By Laura Saldarriaga