"I think fashion needs to re-energize," says Nina García intently. "We are in a moment where there is so much sameness. We are all shopping from the same stores. If you go to Milan, San Francisco or New York, you'll be shopping from the same stores. We've lost that sense of discovery."
It's this belief that makes the Marie Claire creative director and "Project Runway" judge so earnest and present on one of the first mornings of New York Fashion Week. Despite the barrage of events coming her way, it's clear that Garcia is excited to be exactly where she is in this moment — sitting in a pop-up shop in Soho, surrounded by fashion goods dreamed up by Latin American designers.
The pop-up at 138 Wooster Street is called Latin Curated, and it's an initiative that Colombian-born García — along with a number of other fashion industry leaders from Colombia — have been working on for about a year. Featuring 40-odd designers from Latin America, the pop-up is meant to showcase some of the best talent in the region for NYFW's international audience.
"These are designers that are on the cusp," García explains. "They have the design background and the talent, but they really need exposure and a more international platform."
While García's sense of cultural pride certainly plays into her investment in the initiative, she also believes that it will be well-received by those with no personal connection to Latin America. Besides providing a fresh look for bored-of-brand-name shoppers, the designers included in Latin Curated could also play a role in pushing forward the dialogue about social and environmental responsibility.
"I think the conversation is a little bit ahead there, because it happens organically," she explains. "I don't think they've had the opportunity to produce on the massive scale that we have [here]. So it's very authentic. They already work with these artisans and craftsmen, many of whom use sustainable materials like organic cotton or recyclable plantain fibers."
With that in mind, García has big hopes for the future of Latin Curated beyond September 30th, the last day it will be open in Soho. She hopes it will become an annual event at NYFW and maybe other major international fashion weeks as well, in addition to one day having a dedicated e-commerce presence.
"My biggest hope is that people come in, see the product, and are as enamored with it as I am," she says. "And I think that they will, because the quality is here. I have no doubt about that."