Decoding Latin American fashion for India

Written by IhebQld

By Divam Jain

Latin American fashion has always been a representation of “artisanal” fashion in its true form with focus on hand work, crochet, embellishments and craftsmanship. More recently, Latin American fashion has gone beyond its tropical vibe and embraced modernity. Their eye for design and style is translating well for global markets. The region’s fashion industry has diversified with creativity and new technology, and the world is keenly collaborating with Latin American manufacturers and brands.

Latin American brands participating in shows like Magic, Vegas have taken things to a completely different league.

I was a Senior Manager for International Sourcing for one of the leading fashion e-commerce portals in India in 2010. When I first visited Bogota for ProColombia’s Macrorrueda business meeting in 2014, I was travelling to South America for the first time and with no particular expectation. What I experienced was phenomenal, an absolute eye opener.

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I had been sourcing fashion from all over the world for the Indian e-commerce sector and until my visit, I was clueless about the potential of Colombian fashion. This was a global and regional hub for your non-typical yet extremely important and niche categories like swimwear, lingerie, shapewear and activewear.

The fabric, technology, patterns and prints, imagery, and styling was out of this world. Those 48 hours in Colombia completely changed my life. My first tryst with Colombian brands was with a swimwear brand called Garotas. It was a super hit back in India. We were all sold out in a matter of weeks. Investors were startled. This was the beginning of something big.

Colombia, South America’s 3rd largest economy, houses some of the best in lingerie, shapewear, active wear and swimwear. There is tremendous work taking place in design and innovation.

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Let’s talk about swimwear and activewear. Now these are specialised fields. Colombian brands have developed and are producing intelligent and innovative fabrics which are anti-bacterial, provide UV protection and are also waterproof. One also sees textured fabrics. Vertically integrated companies give you the flexibility of offering a complete package (where the company producers everything for you, in your brand). You can even get your brand developed with low Minimum Order Quantities (MOQs). Competitive labour costs help you keep control of production costs.

For the longest time, swimwear never got its share of importance in India. People have either been buying pure performance-based swimwear from branded stores or buying swimwear from international locations specifically for their foreign travels. Fancy swimwear was only flaunted by celebrities and models.

Today, however, women are more open to wearing swimsuits even when holidaying in India or for the sake of their Instagram profiles. Fashionable swimwear is gaining wide acceptance. Having said that, swimwear brands have not been able to keep pace with growing demand and popularity. There is a big void in terms of patterns, silhouettes and technologically advanced fabrics. There is a dearth of good brands and styles in the swimwear segment in India. A handful of international and local brands are ruling this space. The market is flooded with either low-cost, low-quality swimwear or high-end designer swimwear. Indians are now ready to invest in good swimwear and very well ready to flaunt it. People are no longer interested in the basic functional swimwear from typical sportswear brands catering to the masses. It’s time to bring in amalgamation of technology, design and to top it all, fashion.

In 2017, my wife and I started Fabnest, a premium yet affordable women’s wear brand, based in New Delhi. I have been meeting, reviewing and researching for a Latin American company that could be a lifestyle brand and could compete in India. Chamela, a premium Colombian brand, tick all these boxes and sets a different benchmark altogether. Their design and innovation across categories like swimwear, lingerie and active wear are phenomenal, and their seasonal collection includes multiple edits allowing the customer to choose from varied styles, prints and features. They are also a size-inclusive brand, offering bigger sizes – which is required for the Indian market. Since they are a lifestyle brand, after launching swimwear, we at Fabnest intend to launch activewear, lingerie and shapewear, to fully utilize their potential for the Indian market.

The future remains bright for Latin American fashion in India, and Chamela is only the beginning.

(Author is Co-founder at FABNEST. Views expressed are personal and do not reflect the official position or policy of the 

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