The New School: 6 Latino Designers You Need to Know

If you love Oscar de la RentaCarolina Herreraand Manolo Blahnik, make room in your closet for these #NewSchool Latino Design Stars. Ranging from minimal chic to loud and sexy, these icons-in-the-making are inspiration defined. 

RELATED: 10 Latina Models You Need to Know

This story originally appeared in the November 2016 issue of Latina magazine. 

1. Jessica Caban

Brand: J. Marie Swimwear

THE DRIVE: Frustrated by all the unflattering swimwear out there (can we get an amen?!), the Spanish Harlem–born, Bronx-raised designer said, “I’m gonna make a bathing suit that feels perfect on my body.”

THE LOOK: “Being a Latina, I find myself liking things extra spicy, so I include that mentality in my swimwear,” Jessica says. Expect sparkly high-waist briefs with strategically placed cutouts and bikini tops that range from full coverage to string. And mujeres with a little junk in our trunk can rejoice! This line “accentuates the good parts and hides all the tostones you just ate,” Jessica says. “Plus I got that magic fabric.” Her ultimate goal? “To make every girl/ woman feel like Maria from West Side Story, which is my absolute favorite movie and inspiration.”

CELEB FAN: Her amor, Bruno Mars!


2. Sophia Dias

Brand: Dias Sunglasses

THE DRIVE: As a globe-trotter (she’s called London and Hong Kong home) and mover-shaker (she’s rubbed elbows with Mother Teresa and Sonia Sotomayor), Sophia has no shortage of inspo. “When you meet and work with people of this caliber, it has a profound effect on your entire life, not just your design business,” she says. Unable to find bold, “in-yourface” sunglasses in the marketplace, Sophia decided to create her own.

THE LOOK: “Our white-frame glasses with transparent lenses inspired the entire line,” Sophia says. Grab the tinted version if you want to feel like a celeb!

UP NEXT: Sophia is launching a clothing line in the fall.


3. Eduardo Lucero

Brand: Eduardo Lucero Boutique LA

THE DRIVE: “My designs carry with them the drama, flair, and textures of my Mexican birthland, but they are filtered through the practicality of my Midwestern American upbringing,” says the Illinois-raised designer. “My Latino background is like a running soundtrack to my collections, giving them spice and flavor, but for a global audience.”

THE LOOK: Can you say sexxxxy? Fierce Latinas like Kate del Castillo love the line’s lacy dresses fit for a tango and sparkly pantsuits evocative of ’70s-era Bianca Jagger. “My vision is not about clothes; it is about giving women the tools to become better versions of themselves. Fashion can be an extremely effective form of therapy; it can open doors for you in the world but also in your mind,” Eduardo says.

CELEB FANS: Gloria Trevi, Jenni Rivera, Blanca Soto, Adriana Fonseca, Dania Ramirez.


4. Monica Mauro

Brand: Druzy Jewelry by Monica Mauro

THE DRIVE: Born and raised in Mexico, Monica has a style that reflects the rich artistic culture she was exposed to at an early age. “I grew up in a very musical family and was surrounded by ballet folklórico and flamenco, which are famous for the exotic colors in the dresses,” Monica says. “I’ve incorporated a lot of these into my designs.”

THE LOOK: If you love a distinct statement piece, look no further. “What sets my jewelry collection apart from other designers is my use of druzy beads, naturally crystallized agate stones that are tumbled down into round beads, which show windows of the crystals popping through the surface,” the former art teacher explains.

CLAIM TO FAME: Monica’s four-way necklace, inspired by Arizona’s state bird, earned her the Emerging Accessory Designer of the Year 2016 award at Phoenix Fashion Week.


5. Natalie Farfan

Brand: Botanika

THE DRIVE: Botanika was created in honor of Nathalie’s mother, “a true fashionista” who passed away when the Ecuadorean designer was only 15. “She made it a point to style the shit out of herself at all times,” Nathalie says of her muse, “even when mopping the floor or making a ceviche on a Sunday afternoon.”

THE LOOK: Simple silhouettes in bodyloving fabrics. “My favorite piece is the black tunic dress with two slits on each side because of the way it drapes the body, the way the Japanese silk feels on one’s skin, and because it allows women to be elegant and minimalistic all at the same time,” says Nathalie, whose fashions are made in NYC. “Botanika is about depicting the whole woman, the empowered woman, and helping her tap into both her feminine and masculine energies. It’s a feminist movement.”

CELEB FANS: Iggy Azalea, Bebe Rexha.


6. Raul Peñaranda

Brand: Raul Peñaranda New York

THE DRIVE: Raul got his start working for the likes of DKNY, Oscar de la Renta, Tommy Hilfiger, and Zac Posen, and says his Latin roots are the DNA of his brand. “My goal is to show the world who [a woman] is, making a statement with simple cuts, lavish fabrics, and strong color,” he says. “Being a Colombo-Venezuelan designer has given me the chance to understand not only ‘who she is,’ but most important ‘what she needs.’ Our brand is driven by a culture that is full of passion, determination, courage, and kindness.”

THE LOOK: Raul describes his collection as “the perfect balance of sexy and sophisticated.” Highwaist pants with wide-collar silk tops give off a Michelle Pfeiffer–in-Scarface vibe, while figure-hugging embellished shifts have a seriously amped up 9-to-5 feel.

CELEB FANS: Vanessa Williams, former Miss Universe Dayana Mendoza, telenovela star Kimberly Dos Ramos.