Whether it’s Latin Heritage Month or any other time of year, Latin American designers and fashion creators are working to open doors for the next generation of creatives with connections to the region.
This time, three of those creatives are doing just that with an “Into The Industry Workshop” in New York City for students at Mexico’s Istituto di Moda Burgo. The three-day workshop, taking place from September 29th to October 1st and hosted by designer Nadia Manjarrez of her eponymous bridal label, celebrity and editorial makeup artist Mayela Vazquez and fashion photographer Raul Tovar, aims to introduce the newcomers to give an insight into the industry.
“I’m excited to do this workshop for many reasons,” said Vazquez. “All my partners are 100 percent Mexican, we moved to New York more than 10 years ago, all in a similar situation: no jobs, no connections, no idea how to break into the industry. We started this project a few years ago with the aim of providing advice to our community and anyone who wants to make it in this industry. Answering all the questions nobody answers and the things nobody told us when we started. We want to open doors and help them understand how to get their dream job, be it in fashion or beauty.
“Another thing that excites me is seeing how companies and brands like Make Up For Ever, Chanel Beauty, Caudalié, Bobbi Brown, Ceremonia and Benefit support our project more and more because they care about the Latin American market”, says she added.
On the first day of the workshop, Manjarrez will share everything about fashion design and participate in a Q&A session. The participating students then go on a field trip to the New York Embroidery Studio to gain hands-on experience. On day two, Vazquez will lead an interactive learning experience at Make Up For Ever Studio and Atelier Beauté Chanel. On day three, students participate in a campaign shoot for Nadia Manjarrez Studio Bridal, with Learnings led by Tovar. The workshop costs a whopping $1,450 to attend, but students who registered early enough had the option to pay in installments.
“My favorite day is always the photo shoot we do together. I love seeing their eyes as they see the results on screen and the ideas we worked on over the weekend come to fruition,” said Tovar, whose work has been featured in Vogue Mexico & Latin America, Harper’s Bazaar and L ‘Official have appeared. “Personally, I enjoy answering all of your great questions without a filter and sharing as much as I can from this industry, which can feel very intimidating when you’re on the other side.”
That intimidation is something the trio want to rule out, and something Tovar experienced firsthand when he started.
“I once read an analogy somewhere that said the fashion industry is a table with a few seats for the same people to get the best meals (jobs) and everyone else picking up the scraps off the floor… So cruel sounds like that’s how I felt when I moved to New York City 11 years ago,” he said. “Until January 2018, the covers and ad campaigns of the most sought-after fashion magazines were photographed by the same group of top photographers. The societal changes of 2020 brought so many opportunities for aspiring photographers with different views and perspectives on fashion. Being a photographer myself, I love seeing different types of images and stories told by people who might have different sources of inspiration than me.”
The challenge now is to continue opening up those opportunities to a more representative cohort of creatives.
“I think success is a combination of talent and opportunity (and unfortunately a bit of luck too), so I love it when I see some of my Latin American colleagues booking big jobs that years ago seemed impossible or just about to get belonged to the same group of humans,” Tovar said.
Manjarrez believes representation for Latin American fashion designers is gradually improving.
“I’d love to see more, but I think now more than ever there’s a drive for more representation and diversity in all facets of the industry,” she said. “I think it’s our duty as Latinos to continue helping to create even more opportunity and to cultivate, mentor and uplift the next generation.”
As a member of this next generation and a student who will be attending next week’s workshop, Matilde Rojo said the opportunity meant a lot to her.
“There’s not much to read or hear about how the fashion industry works in the real world, so I’m excited to meet the panelists, hear their stories and learn how they got to where they are now.” , he said of the young designer who eventually wants to create her own brand.
But the bigger picture extends even beyond their brand to representation more broadly.
“It’s important for consumers to feel seen and heard, we want to spend money and support brands that are inclusive, not exclusive,” Rojo said. “Everyone wants to feel included, and the fashion industry can do that by supporting models of all sizes and colors, photographers from all backgrounds, and showcasing covers with talent people can relate to.”
Things are already moving in the right direction for Vazquez.
“I definitely see a development since I started over 15 years ago. Now there are more campaigns, editorials and runway shows where I’ve worked with Latin American faces. Fashion and beauty brands have slowly diversified and become more forward-thinking, opening new doors for Latinx talent and showing they’re interested in “everyone” and not just one type of face or body shape,” she said.
“Social media has had a huge impact, everyone has a voice now and Latinos have asked to be heard and seen to have an opportunity in this country and especially in this industry,” Vazquez continued. “Today, some of the most influential magazines, companies and brands have Latinos behind them, so they have a great responsibility to break those boundaries and make it happen.”
This workshop is the eighth of its kind hosted jointly by Manjarrez, Vazquez and Tovar. Another is planned for May 2023.