Given that Mexico City is so emphatically praised for its architecture, world-class museums, next-level gastronomy and flourishing contemporary art scene, it was only a matter of time before Mexican fashion followed suit. Lucky for us, it has; there’s a new crop of Mexican designers doing their part to cement Mexico City as the coolest and most culturally relevant destination in North America.
What makes Mexico City so extraordinary is its effortless union of old and new. Colonial structures sit steps away from steely skyscrapers. An old school cantina shares the same block as a Michelin Star hotspot. Underground club nights pop up in crumbling historic buildings. Mexico City isn’t steadfastly preserving a bygone era, nor is it trying to emulate a metropolitan mecca. Instead, it’s embracing both its historic value and its rapid evolution, becoming a city that’s somehow even greater and more vibrant than the sum of its parts.
The most exciting Mexican brands embrace a similar ethos, merging classic iconography and traditional, desert-friendly garb with modern streetwear trends. Unsurprisingly, these designers exhibit an architectural boldness and a fearless use of color. But despite how undeniably dope Mexican fashion may be, it isn’t taking itself too seriously. Like Mexico City itself, the result is something playful and exciting – an intoxicating invitation to try something new.
Here are 11 Mexican brands you should know.
READY TO DIE
READY TO DIE’s not-so-basic take on streetwear basics is a shining example of how a little architectural restructuring can go a long way. A plain white T-shirt is updated with U-shaped cutout to expose the bellybutton. Trouser pockets are exaggerated to create a Balenciaga-like box shape. And you can’t go wrong with their oversized hoodies, all emblazoned with the brand’s too-good-to-be-true name.
PUTA, which is Spanish for “slut,” offers a more literal mash-up of old and new, updating vintage Levi’s and Hilfiger jean jackets with cheeky embroidery (a traditional technique). Think of it as Mexico City’s answer to those beloved Gucci denim pieces. Not looking to break the bank? Their tees and hoodies exhibit the same playful aesthetic at a more affordable price point.
With its use of goth and punk merch aesthetics and no-fuss cursive logo, Sacrifice provides a more literal interpretation of international streetwear and skate brands. Local flourishes, like their play on Our Lady of Guadalupe and the Mexican Flag, render their of-the-moment digs distinctly local.
We’ve already sung the praises of CRACKXCOCAINE, a brand that pays homage to streetwear hype culture while simultaneously poking fun at it. Their T-shirts, hoodies and hats reimagine beloved brand logos like Thrasher and Champion with in-your-face drug references, a joke that becomes all too appropriate when you factor in the fervent addiction kids have to hyped clothing, not to mention the booming Mexican drug trade. Simply put, this brand nails it.
Espiritus Libres, which translates to “Free Spirit,” offers the sort of covetable graphic T-shirts that fit seamlessly into any rotation. Founded by Izzie Ramírez, who’s been working as a graphic designer in Mexico since the ’70s, each of the brand’s black and white T-shirts features an exceptionally detailed pen and ink drawing which has been digitized and screen-printed. Macabre desert touches like skulls and snakes also add a discernibly local flair.
If Espiritus Libres embodies old school Mexican graphic design, Tony Delfino epitomizes the new school. His colorful graphics, which adorn everything from hoodies and T-shirts to hats and lighters, cast a wide net of influences and references, including Japanese streetwear, Twin Peaks and Joy Division. Spanish and English logos are interchangeably stitched and screen-printed. If one brand embodies the “anything goes” mentality of Mexico City streetwear, it’s Tony Delfino.
We know, we know, Rage Handcraft isn’t a clothing label, but the brand’s beaded art items are so covetable, we couldn’t help but include them in this list. Made from resin, their one-of-a-kind skulls are hand-beaded by Wixarica artisans and have received a stamp of approval from colette. Yet another prime example of combining old with new.
Carla Fernández’s eponymous clothing line draws direct inspiration from Mexican indigenous communities, both aesthetically and technically. The designer has traveled throughout Mexico, learning traditional textile-making techniques and partnering with local artisans in order to bring a handcrafted approach to modern designs. Whether you opt for a breezy button-down or a bold poncho (they’re totally wearable, we swear), you’ll instantly know you’re wearing something special.
NÁMENK boasts that its leather goods, rugs and jewelry are “made by Mexican hands.” Marked by ornate floral patterns, these items scream “quality.” Even the T-shirts and work shirts feature chic leather accents. However, we’re most impressed by the leather skate deck, which probably doesn’t ride great but sure does looks dope.
Having presented at LA Fashion Week, Salo Shayo is one of Mexico City’s better-known brands. Masters of structure, these garments create oversized silhouettes that still feel breezy and effortless. Tongue-in-cheek design elements, like an oversized banana pin or a word search print, keep things playful – the perfect brand to walk hand-in-hand with the city’s hip contemporary gallery scene.
PAY’S takes Mexico City’s old-meets-new mentality and gives it peyote. The Ttchnicolor designs combine Aztec motifs and tie die with a dash of Milhouse Van Houten to create something that’s easy to love. This digs will take you from Coachella to Mexico City Fashion Week and back again.
Now that you know what’s good in Mexico, find out what brands are worth knowing in Italy.