As shoppers, most of us, if given the option, would definitely buy an ethically produced item over one made in a sweatshop. But knowing which items are fairly traded, environmentally friendly, or artisan-produced isn’t always clear—and it’s hard to know where to look to find a good alternative to that cute chevron patterned skirt at Forever21.
That’s where The Conscious Consumer comes in! Our new column from Meredith Duncan (of Cubicle Chic and Notes from the Field) will help make your buying choices easier by highlighting designers, brands, and products that are fun and stylish, but also contribute to making the world of fashion a more equitable and sustainable industry.
Two weeks ago, it was Fashion Week in New York—but that wasn’t the only show in town. For the last six years, Nolcha Fashion Week has operated alongside Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week—and instead of featuring the big names you know, it gives independent, emerging, and global designers the chance to show their collections to the world. Each season since its launch, Nolcha continues to makes a bigger statement with fantastic designers from around the world.
One of the designers who made the cut—and her New York debut—this year at Nolcha was Pamela Gonzales, a young Peruvian designer with an eye for elegance and an inspiring story.
Pamela always dreamed of being a designer, but planned to pursue a “safer” degree in psychology. It wasn’t until she had a bad accident and awoke from a month-long coma that she reevaluated her priorities and decided to take the leap and try her hand at design. Barely in her early 20s, Pamela quickly found success in Peru’s fashion scene with runway shows and a boutique in the nation’s capital. Her show during Fashion Week was her introduction to the New York market, and she’s wasted no time integrating into the city’s style: Her boutique opens in SoHo this fall.
Influenced by Peru’s historic artisanal traditions of weaving, knitting, and sewing, Pamela incorporates these techniques in her designs, all made by hand in Peru. But far from looking “traditional,” Pamela’s seaside-inspired collection is sophisticated and luxurious. All of the models appeared sun-kissed with golden highlights on their collarbones, eyelids, and eyebrows, and most of the collection was made of up dresses in beiges, golds, and ocean blues. Best of all, many of her pieces could easily work well off the runway at a fancy cocktail or black tie event.
As Pamela told me, she approaches her work as if “every piece is an art piece [because] fashion is art.” And as her pieces, intricately hand-knitted with cotton or silk chiffon pieces show, art is just what she’s creating.
Here are some of my favorites from Pamela’s unique collection:
Pamela aims to create pieces that are “uniquely her own” and “too difficult to replicate,” for the woman who enjoys being the glamorous one with the dress no one else has. Pamela, I think you’ve achieved it.