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9 Popular Fashion Trends That Have Roots in Latin Culture


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    I don't think anyone would disagree when I say that our fast-paced lives have so many implications for our fashion choices. On the one hand, we've never been more connected on a global scale than we are now. The fact that a writer like me in New York can publish a story about what people are wearing in Copenhagen on the same day or uncover an emerging Latin-owned brand and shout it out to the world is a beautiful thing. But on the other hand, we consume and wear new trends faster than ever, and it's often at the detriment of understanding the context that brought said fashion trend to life (aka its backstory).

    So today, we're taking a closer look at the cultural history behind several now-famous fashion items—each of which has roots in Latin culture. It's not to say that the following nine pieces only originated from Latin culture, but an important piece of their history comes from it, and that's what we're here to celebrate. We tapped Jeniffer Varela Rodríguez, a fashion writer with an MA in fashion studies from Parsons, to share her insight on the backstory of several popular fashion items, some of which you might already have in your closet.

    Latin culture is expansive, to be sure, and includes cultures that span 20 countries and multiple continents. So the heritage of the fashion items up ahead, including gaucho pants, saddle bags, and boleros, is just as nuanced and multifaceted as the cultures that gave them to us. With that, keep reading to discover the backstories of nine popular trends, and see how fashion people are wearing them now.

    The origin: "'Carriel' is the term for a saddle bag style that's characteristic of the Aburrá Valley region in Colombia," Varela Rodríguez informed me. "It was originally a bag that coffee farmers used when working in the mountains so that they could carry their belongings, fitting as much as possible, and still be hands-free." Because of these origins, carriels are associated with coffee culture, but given that the bag is practical and served many purposes, it's not hard to see why the style has persisted and paved the way for the saddle bags that designers such as Valentino and Dior are designing.

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