In search of authenticity
By Sofía Cácerez Valenzuela
It has never been easy for a Latin brand to stand out in the fashion industry. When we think of trends, our gaze is generally directed to the old world (Paris, Milan, London). Thinking of Latin America as a fashion benchmark was just an imagination until a few years ago; not only because our attention was focused on the fashion weeks that took place in the big capitals, but also because Latin American design had not found its essence. Some time ago there was a desperate urge to imitate what was created in the old continent, making Latin design irrelevant.
It was only when a new wave of designers understood that appropriating their culture would take them to the top of the world. Now they had stories to tell and that is how Latin American fashion began to shine with its own light. Little by little, local talent began to be relevant. The national industry evolved and the consumer began to look away from the pieces of big fashion houses in order to consider these authentic local products.
Nonetheless, it takes more than a few glances to succeed in the fashion industry. The challenge is to turn the eyes of the world to Latin America. How to give a voice to the brands that have stories to tell? How to show traditional consumers that there is a new world to explore? How to create a Latin revolution powerful enough to say: here we are full of talents and passion? The answer is LAFS.
Latin American entrepreneurs Estefanía Lacayo and Samantha Tams understood the common phrase “strength through unity” very well. As a Latino community, we have always done more together. As in the past we had leaders who have achieved significant changes with revolutions,today the fashion industry has two spokespersons. These entrepreneurs are the leaders of a revolution that has materialized in a meeting point to learn and exchange ideas.
LAFS is then the first Latin American fashion congress. Its objective? To inspire and strengthen the leadership of other women with a powerful community, a digital multiplatform that exposes Latin American talent before the eyes of the world. Its mission is to elevate and enrich the fashion industry to make it more relevant than ever. Anyone who wants to attend the annual fashion summit or better known as the Latin American Fashion Summit is welcome. In this magnificent meeting, which lasts three days, the community takes part in different networking events and attends panels and workshops lectured by influential people in the field. Finally, interested designers compete in Pitch to LAFS, a competition for brands seeking global recognition.
It was in 2018, still attending lessons at the university, that I learned about this initiative. It seemed unreal. Was it possible to have designers, emerging brands, distribution stores, influencers, magazines, photographers and great industry leaders in the same place - different from fashion weeks? Not just having them in one place but having them in order to join forces for something bigger: a revolution. I wanted to be part of LAFS from the beginning. I had several approaches but it was only until 2022 that I managed to embark on an adventure that would change my life.
I am not a designer. I did not study fashion marketing or art history, I am a business woman who understands that fashion is the mirror of the times, that is that equidistant point between art and business. A point where different fields converge, such as art, history, design, business, politics, culture, making this one of the most important industries with the greatest impact on a global level. As a Latin woman, a millennial woman and a woman passionate about fashion, I understand the responsibility we have with society. Sustainability is not only taking care of the environment, sustainability is also generating an impact in the community and LAFS has become that vehicle to generate change.
The LAFS experience was a dream come true. I had the opportunity to be part of the panels at the summit where leading women in the sector talked about circular fashion and its positive impact on the environment, ethics as a contrast to luxury and the metaverse. Topics such as the humanization of technology and the reinvention of leadership when change is imminent were discussed. Working with independent women, with such dynamic lifestyles opened my eyes to the endless possibilities I have in my hands to make a real impact. Adrenaline went through my veins living this experience. Today, there are many women who are making a significant change in the fashion industry. The community that has been formed through this event is a community concerned with fulfilling what it really means to be sustainable. LAFS is, in a few words, being the cry of a revolution, an irreverent cry that says: Turn your eyes to the new world, Latin brands are doing things differently!
The future of this initiative is promising, not only because little by little a more aware community will grow and increase the volume of its voice but also because as leaders of the revolution, Samantha and Estefanía have a new project now: Tribe, which is a digital platform to unify the Latino community. With the help of technology, this new tool allows to share, collaborate and connect with the most talented people in the fashion industry. What is coming for the sector is not easy at all, the world is changing rapidly and it is everyone's responsibility to face these challenges generating a positive and sustainable impact.
Tribu (2022) Tribu comes from the need to connect. Recovered from:https://tribubylafs.com/
Latin American Fashion Summit (2022). Nosotros: the latin american fashion summit. Recovered from: https://www.latamfashionsummit.com/es/nosotros/
Pérez. F (2021) Vogue Business Summit 2021: así es el evento de mujeres líderes y poderosas. Recovered from: https://www.vogue.mx/estilo-de-vida/articulo/vogue-business-summit-2021-mejores-momentos?uID=e6b797228f2faaa3d557ce3b7d61de0f4501aedf1fca8512f9b98fb398742212&utm_campaign=editorial_newsletter-VogueBusinessSummit&utm_source=newsletter&utm_brand=vg&utm_mailing=VG_NEWS_Daily_161121-VogueBusinessSummit&utm_medium=email&utm_term=VG_Newsletter