Whether it’s Latin Heritage Month or any other time throughout the year, Latin designers and fashion creatives are working to open doors for the next crop of creatives with ties to the region.
This time, three of these creatives are doing it with an “Into The Industry Workshop” in New York City for students from Mexico’s Istituto di Moda Burgo. Hosted by designer Nadia Manjarrez from her namesake bridal brand, celebrity and editorial makeup artist Mayela Vazquez, and fashion photographer Raul Tovar, the three-day workshop, which runs from September 29 to October 1, aims to give attendees an insight into the industry.
“I am extremely excited to hold 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 enter the industry. We started this project for some years ago with the goal of providing advice to our community and to anyone who wants to make it in this industry. To answer all the questions that no one answers and the things that no one told us when we started. We want to open doors and help them to understand how they can achieve their dream job, be it in fashion or beauty.
“Another thing that excites me is to see how companies and brands like Make Up For Ever, Chanel Beauty, Caudalié, Bobbi Brown, Ceremonia and Benefit are starting to support our project more and more because they care about the Latin market,” she added.
Day one of the workshop will see Manjarrez share all about fashion design and participate in a Q&A session. Then, participating students will take a field trip to the New York Embroidery Studio for some hands-on experience. On day two, Vazquez will guide an interactive learning experience in the Make Up For Ever studio and Atelier Beauté Chanel. Day three will see the students participate in a campaign shoot for Nadia Manjarrez Studio Bridal, with learning led by Tovar. Participation in the workshop costs a somewhat steep $1,450, although there was an option to pay in installments for students who registered early enough.
“My favorite day is always the photo shoot we do together. I love seeing their eyes when they see the results on the screen and the ideas that we worked on during the weekend become a reality,” said Tovar, whose work has appeared in Vogue Mexico & Latin America, Harper’s Bazaar and L’Officiel. “I personally like to answer all your good questions without filters and share as much as I can from this industry that can feel very intimidating when you’re on the other side.”
That threat is something the trio is working to rule out and something Tovar experienced firsthand at the start.
“I once read an analogy somewhere that says the fashion industry is a table with a few seats for the same people to get the best meals (jobs) and everyone else will pick up the scraps from the floor… How cruel that than it sounds, that’s how I felt when I moved to New York City 11 years ago,” he said. “Until January 2018, the most coveted fashion magazines and ad campaigns were photographed by the same circle of top photographers. The social changes of 2020 brought so many opportunities for upcoming photographers with different views and perspectives in fashion. As a photographer myself, I love seeing different types of images and stories told by people who may have different sources of inspiration than I do.”
Now it’s about continuing to open up these opportunities to a more representative group of creatives.
“I believe success is a combination of talent and opportunity (and unfortunately also a bit of luck), so I love when I see some of my Latin peers book big jobs that years ago seemed impossible to get or just belonged to the same group of people, Tovar said.
Little by little, Manjarrez believes that representation is improving for Latino fashion designers.
“I would love to see more, but I think now more than ever there is a push for more representation and diversity in all facets of the industry,” she said. “I believe it is our duty as Latinos to continue to help create even more opportunities and cultivate, guide and uplift the next generation.”
As a member of the next generation, and a student who will be attending next week’s workshop, Matilde Rojo said the opportunity means a lot to her.
“There’s not much you can actually read or listen to about how the fashion industry works in the real world, so I’m excited to get to know the panelists and hear their stories and how they got to where they are now,” said the young designer , who ultimately want to create their own brand.
But the bigger picture even extends beyond her brand, to representation more broadly.
“It’s important to make consumers feel seen and heard, we want to spend money and support brands that are inclusive and not exclusive,” said Rojo. “Everyone wants to feel like they belong, and the fashion industry can do that by supporting models of all sizes and colors, photographers from diverse backgrounds, and showcasing covers with talent that people can relate to.”
For Vazquez, things are already moving in the right direction.
“I definitely see a development from when I started over 15 years ago. Now there are several campaigns, editorials and runway shows where I have worked with Latin faces. Fashion and beauty brands have slowly diversified and become more forward-thinking by opening new doors for Latinx talent, showing that they are interested in ‘everyone’ and not just one type of face or body shape,” she said.
“There’s been a huge impact on social media, everyone has a voice now and Latinos have been asking to be heard, to be seen, to have a chance in this country and this industry in particular,” Vazquez continued. “Nowadays, some of the most influential magazines, companies and brands have Latinos behind them, so they have a huge responsibility to break those boundaries and make it happen.”
This workshop is the eighth of its kind Manjarrez, Vazquez and Tovar have hosted together. Another is planned for May 2023.