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The Migration of Fashion, Part 1: The Colonizing Gaze and Counter-Gaze

by Sandra Mathey García-Rada

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Latin America and fashion are two terms that are not immediately associated. Even though there is a booming Latin American fashion industry, this is a region which is usually neglected and undervalued. This is heightened by the fact that Latin America does not have any fashion world city — New York, London, Milan, Paris and Tokyo — even in the twenty-first century. Latin America is a region that has been historically rooted in and characterized by underdevelopment. In fact, its countries are usually branded through the exoticism of their indigenous communities. In the fashion industry, this is interpreted in the use of its cultures as inspiration, which is then translated to cultural and national stereotypes that constantly link this region to ‘non-Western’ civilizations.

Latin American fashion brands and designers have, in fact, been creating innovative pieces that are sold and merchandised around the world next to what are usually considered ‘fashionable’ brands. Interestingly, these pieces are not defined by their country of origin, but by their design concepts. However, the inextricable association of the region to national stereotypes sometimes makes it difficult for newer talents to enter the global fashion discourse.

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