Abre los ojos: Five things Colombiamoda 2018 opened our eyes to

By Tamara Davison July 27, 2018

The curtain finally came down yesterday on the 29th instalment of Medellin’s very own fashion week, Colombiamoda 2018. Taking over Medellín’s Plaza Mayor with a series of runways, exhibitions and talks, the three day event is geared at promoting economic, cultural and social change that reaches further than just a Colombian audience. Over the course of the event, 27,200 people lived and breathed the excitement of Latin American fashion. Amongst the consortium of Colombia’s best dressed, there were DJ’s, celebrities and television crews, as well as a plethora of lectures providing world-class expertise on future developments and buyers creating new business partnerships.

Colombiamoda, like the leading fashion weeks of London or Paris, brought together the industry’s most innovative designers and most unusual, creative displays of fashion. However laced with spectacular outfits that might have left their wearers a little hot under the collar in the Medellín heat, Colombiamoda also managed to place it’s own South American spin on the fast-paced lifestyle of the fashion industry. Here is what The Bogotá Post learned at Colombiamoda 2018.

It was a celebration of creativity across all of Latin America

Although 44% of participating brands came from the department of Antioquia, the enormous display hall also boasted creative brands from Brazil, Peruvian designers such as swimwear AguaClara, creatives from Costa Rica, Spain, Mexico, Panama, Portugal, the United States and Germany.

There was a multitude of languages combined with an air of excitement as a celebration of all things creative got underway across four pavilions. Nestled amongst the leading creatives of the industry, it was possible to also spot Colombia’s design schools such as LCI Bogotá, promoting the future of Colombia’s fashion world as they brushed shoulders with buyers excited by their new takes on the fashion industry.

This year, Colombiamoda also welcomed the ‘Graphic Market’ which brought together 30 artists and illustrators in order to connect them with buyers from across the fashion industry. The ‘Ruta de la Transformacion,’ (Road to transformation) detailed the development of fifty exciting companies within the industry as well as a number of displays of visionary trends for the upcoming season.

What stood among the constant hum of business partnerships, selfies and fashionistas, was an all-encompassing vibrant atmosphere which served to represent the whole of Latin America. Rather than channel the image of an individual country, unlike the ‘Britishness’ of London Fashion Week that categorises the event despite the international attendance, Colombiamoda spearheaded a fashion movement that embodies an entire continent. And with inspiration stretching across from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic, the abundance of creative thought promises yet more exciting developments for the future.

Heritage and culture played large parts of the collections 

A tropical vibrancy was one of the defining themes that were on show throughout the three-day event. It demonstrated a natural creativity that is spun from the rich cultural background of the Latin American area, and many of the exhibitors would have you wishing you were on the Caribbean coast. Bordados Calados y Tejidos are just one of the brands that take inspiration from Valle Del Cauca to combine traditional embroidery techniques with new designs.

The anticipation of men’s tailored brand Lugo Lugo on Wednesday’s catwalk also gave a nod to the creative wilderness of Latin American fashion. Guests received a chocolate beetle before taking their seats for the show of tailored men’s suits combined with bold natural prints, foliage, insects and a number of dogs who also made a trip down the catwalk.

Women’s rights in the spotlight

Neatly tucked into a corner of the exhibitor’s hall stood a photobooth decorated with pineapples under the (words) W.A.S.A.H. Though somewhat unassuming from the outside and hardly as eye-catching as some of the event’s designs, it contained a powerful reminder of how far the industry has come.  

The slogan stood for ‘Women are strong as hell’ and representing the fashion brand PDHS. The booth welcomed viewers to take a look through the depiction of women in 50s advertising and used those ideas to channel the female empowerment that some claim we are living through today. Geared at women who are not afraid to overspend as well as express their strength through fashion, the interesting display which left visitors with a series of thought-provoking questions such as ‘Conoces leyes a favor de la igualdad de genéro en Colombia?’ (Do you know any laws that favour gender equality in Colombia?)

Activists revealed Latin America’s fashion industry will be held accountable.

During Wednesday afternoon as fashion-clad Latinos queued to enter the event, they were met with the loud calls of over twenty activists who proudly stood at Colombiamoda entrance. Displaying banners and shouting statements at passers by did not deter the fashion-hungry guests, nor did it stop the protesters from relentlessly continuing with their statements.

Unlike the typical forms of protest that usually make their way across Europe’s fashion weeks which call into question most specifically the use of fur, and more recently models rights, this protest held a huge sign stating, ‘Trabajadores despedidos injustamente de Enka de Colombia,’ which specifically targeted Colombian fibre and fabric manufacturer, Enka De Colombia.

If you want to break the internet, be a reggaeton star on the catwalk

You don’t need to be Colombian in order to know reggaeton star J Balvin. And, you don’t even need to know J Balvin to be able to recognise some of his songs. One of the most anticipated catwalk shows of this year was the fashion design debut of J Balvin in an urban design inspired collaboration with French brand GEF, who, at the height of the Tuesday evening show made an appearance on stage. The next evening, Puerto Rican reggaeton duo Zion y Lennox closed yet another runway whilst revamping the typical image of the catwalk with the energy and gusto of Latino culture.

The J Balvin show, which some have commented as historic occurred on the same day that former Colombian President Uribe stepped down from his role as senator amidst ongoing investigations into former crimes he is accused of. The influence of the fashion industry should not be underestimated, as Balvin’s runway debut was trending alongside the political stories of the day.