We Styled Mexico City’s Flyest, Sexiest Characters


There’s an enigmatic figure who looms large in Mexican history: La Malinche, the Nahua enslaved woman who was given to Hernán Cortés as a tribute, eventually served as his interpreter and right hand, and some say, enabled her people’s demise. A narrative emerged that painted her as a traitor, and the word malinchista became used here to refer to the sort of person who displays a preference for foreign things, and was, until recently, an apt descriptor for the capital’s fashion scene, where style has largely been conflated with European sophistication.

But something transformative is happening in Mexico City. Walking around certain neighborhoods, you can feel a subversive spirit. Foreigners have been descending onto the city in droves for years, and despite the annoyances that an influx of newcomers inevitably brings, it’s undeniable that their presence is also revitalizing parts of the culture, if only through the contagious nature of their enthusiasm. It’s as if the international spotlight is illuminating things residents previously took for granted, and casting new value on them. People are now dressing in a way that is candid and irreverent, rebellious without being bitter, transmitting an easy sort of confidence where irony intermingles with earnestness. Elements of traditional wardrobes that were previously banished from the closets of certain locals are returning, if in updated or refined versions. Things like cowboy boots and sheepskin huaraches and Catholic iconography—a Virgin of Guadalupe printed on a shirt or a crucifix hanging on a chain—are mixed seamlessly with the Japanese or Belgian designs that had already captivated the city’s more progressive dressers.

Despite the lack of an industry with established rules and hierarchies, or perhaps because of it, Mexican fashion is maturing on its own terms, often produced by people with little formal training or previous experience in garment-making. “There’s this term I love, la mexicanada, which means solving something no matter what it takes,” said Esteban Tamayo, the Mexican designer behind the brand Tiempos, known for its retro-futuristic style. “You have a vision and you make it happen, even if the result is barely hanging by a thread.” It’s true: Doing what you can with what little you may have is a cornerstone of Mexican identity, and while craftsmanship can be slipshod at first, quality eventually comes. It’s just that within a nascent industry, the experimental often thrills more than the expertly constructed.

“It’s the undefined nature of creativity in Mexico that allows for ideas to flow,” said Victor Barragán, whose namesake label, now based in New York, is perhaps Mexico City’s greatest fashion export. We were talking about the ease with which one can hop between disciplines here—how the lines that separate professions are so porous that architects, designers, artists, chefs, photographers, and musicians seem to dip in and out of one another’s fields at will. Barragán studied architecture in his youth; so did artist Sofía Elias, who has designed highly conceptual playgrounds across the country, collaborated with London-based brands like Kiko Kostadinov and Mowalola, presented vivid sculptures and illustrations, and grown a cult following around her own brand, Blobb, worn by Dua Lipa, Bella Hadid, and North West. Others are similarly unconstrained. Bárbara Sánchez-Kane was mainly known as a fashion designer before shifting her focus to art; Karii Arreola, who runs a PR firm here, recently started producing dinner events centered on the tradition of sobremesa; Rafael Prieto’s design-and-branding practice, Savvy Studio, also makes chocolate and runs a bookstore in the Roma neighborhood.

We Styled Mexico City’s Flyest, Sexiest Characters

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