In some way, shape or form, we’ve all heard of how sustainability is the future of fashion. Thanks to blogs, online magazines, local newspapers, and the lobbying of organizations whose sole intent is to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle in terms of clothing choices, we are now familiar with some, if not all, of the major headlines concerning sustainability and fast fashion.
Bottom line: sustainable fashion is here to stay. Why? Because the fast fashion’s modus operandi of sourcing, producing, and supplying garments is not sustainable at all, and it’s unfair to the usually vastly underpaid workers whose hard labor goes into making the garments we so easily dispose of after a couple of uses.
Despite being aware of why fast fashion is so damaging to the environment and the fashion industry’s workforce, it’s still hard for us to take the plunge and consciously invest in higher-quality garments that are ethically made and eco-friendly. It’s often thought that sustainable, or “slow,” fashion is always expensive and out of reach for your average, low-income, fashion-loving consumer. On the other hand, there’s a common misconception that sustainable fashion is minimalist or boring.
In order to prove these misconceptions wrong, I have gathered a list of trendy and accessible Puerto Rico-based fashion labels that will surely make your transition to sustainability easier. Let’s check them out!
- Ana María Mariana
This self-named Puerto Rican label is one of the renowned pioneers of the Island’s sustainable fashion scene. By using upcycled materials from past collections and incorporating one-of-a-kind sustainable fabrics such as TENCEL Denim and colorful linen types into the design process, this brand creates its equally unique, ready-to-wear garments. Another distinctive feature of this label is its use of color blocking: the combination of bold, opposing colors, and stylish one-size-fits-all clothing items!
Located in Santurce and run by designer Ana María Mariana, the AMM atelier is a perfect stop for fashion fans that are looking to expand their sustainable closet with accessible, designer apparel that you can #wearmorethanonce.
- Vigo Swim
Looking for trendy and sustainable swimsuits? Look no further than Vigo Swim, a swimwear label based in San Juan, Puerto Rico. It’s exclusively known for its reversible, handmade swimwear made with environmentally friendly and original textiles such as eco-spandex and 100% organic cotton. Created by local talent Mariana Vidal in 2015, this brand succeeded in promoting sustainability as a clothing lifestyle.
Besides offering highly versatile bikinis, one-pieces and other swimwear apparel like mini skirts and coverups, Vigo Swim has a create-your-own swimsuit feature on their website! This customizable experience allows you to select a style, a size, and two stylish prints. Neat, right?
- Casa Muza
Having started as a simple T-shirt line in Puerto Rico, Casa Muza has evolved as a creative and sustainable brand. The main focus behind Polet Guzmán’s New York-based brand is to clothe confident women in hand-screen printed drawings, an art technique that inspires a bohemian and free-spirited vibe.
As part of her own interpretation of sustainability, Guzmán is very transparent about her brand’s garment production process. First, all of the clothing’s patterns and samples are designed in Muza’s studio in New York. Then, they’re manufactured with the aid of a small Guatemalan cooperative known as Createx. The Guatemalan artisans who dedicate their craftsmanship to the production of Muza garments are very close to the staff back at Muza’s studio― a relationship strengthened by the NY worker’s frequent travels to the Guatemalan production headquarters. In this way, Muza makes sure to create a culture of ethical and fair trade for all the workforce behind the brand’s production process.
- Johnny & June
We’ve talked about some ready-to-wear-brands, but let’s not forget that purchasing secondhand and vintage is another way to shop sustainably. This is why I’m introducing Johnny & June: a vintage/thrift shop that’s stocked with a hand-picked collection of chic, ethereal items from the past.
Be it styles from the 90s, 70s, or even as far back as the 40s, Johnny & June is bound to take your breath away with its floral tops, old-timey-but-chic maxi dresses and impeccably classic storefronts. Besides operating a store in San Juan, Puerto Rico, co-founder Pamela Baez also works on curating a Johnny & June jewelry selection in collaboration with the Cashex pawn shop. Known as Johnny & June Jewels (or JJJ, for short), this vintage jewelry line offers equally rare and luxurious watches, earrings, brooches and bracelets.
- Agnes Anna Studio
Another great sustainable alternative is investing in artisan-crafted slow fashion garments made locally from scratch. What if I told you there’s a Puerto Rican brand that does exactly that by dyeing its own fabrics?
Welcome to Agnes Anna Studio, a sustainable clothing label that’s focused on textile design and natural dyeing techniques. Other than producing flowy and breathable tops and dresses purchasable on the LUCA Boutique Store, Agnes Anna Studio offers courses on silk painting and printmaking at their San Juan locale! For class schedules and details, check out their Instagram page.
Now that you’ve explored some of the sustainable fashion scene on the Island with me, keep in mind that the shift to sustainability does not occur overnight― it’s a journey that begins with much research, curiosity, and small conscious decisions, such as wearing vintage or revamping your clothing. I hope this has inspired you to start shopping sustainably, and to check these labels out!