There is an inherent lack of liability and consequences for injustices in the fashion industry. Until recently, it’s been a difficult task to hold brands accountable for climate and human rights wrongdoings. As we increase our acknowledgement of this to be a global issue, there are still surprising elements to the industry that make you wonder how exploitation and wage theft can take place even in the U.S.; a country that has a set minimum wage per hour. Many expect that big fashion brands are naturally inclined to pay their workers (at least) a minimum wage, but that metric seems to have gotten lost in the piece-rate-pay system in which workers get paid by each finished piece rather than having a set hourly wage. This forces garment workers to prioritize quantity, often ignoring their own wellbeing to sustain their income. This results in an hourly wage of $5 per hour compared to the minimum wage of $15.50 in California, according to the US department of labor, without any legal repercussions for brands abusing their workers.

This specifically concerns the Hispanic and Latinx communities who make up a large portion of garment workers in the U.S.; specifically in Los Angeles and New York, with about half of all garment workers operating in the U.S. hailing from Latin America. During the pandemic, it was often Latina women who worked unpaid overtime in hot, stuffy factories to sew our protective face masks, while exposing themselves to a health-threatening environment daily. Outside of the US, Latin America also makes up a significant portion of clothing exports to the U.S., and has seen a massive increase in export-oriented manufacturing since the 1980s. In some Latin American countries, garments make up almost half of the countries’ exports.

Luckily, there are several amazing Latinx and Hispanic-owned brands that ignite conversations about the narrative and craftsmanship of their own countries’ garment workers. These brands center traditional artisan techniques and translate them into a modern context. There is inherent beauty and sustainability in many cultures which may help us navigate to a more sensible handling of resources and means of production.

Here are seven Hispanic and Latinx brands with an ethical and sustainable brand credo whose creations not only bridge the gap between continents but also between the past and the future.

Carla Fernández


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Mexico City-based label Carla Fernández is dedicated to preserving and revitalizing the textile legacy of indigenous and mestizo communities of Mexico. The brand reimagines the longevity of its handmade designs: Centering traditional Mexican craftsmanship from hundreds of years ago, founder Fernández wants her clothes to display her heritage in another couple of hundred years to come. Instead of ephemeral, vanishing micro-trends, she focuses on creating pieces that are meant to last in a community-centered work environment that also includes collaborating with Mexican artisans who revive ancient techniques.

Staying true to her beliefs, Fernández steers clear from synthetic materials and only works with natural fibers such as cotton, linen, leather, and wool. Her collections feature a wide array of uniquely crafted garments showing intricate details that can mostly be read about at the bottom of each product page. Ultimately, the brand shows that ethical fashion can be progressive and innovative by referring to ancient techniques.



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In an attempt to narrow the disparity between high-priced luxury and cheap, low-quality items, founders Karla Gallardo and Shilpa Shah founded their leather goods and clothing label Cuyana in 2011. Rather than promoting overconsumption and short-term joy, Cuyana centers the production of fewer but better pieces that are meant to be worn for decades and generations rather than being limited to a trend cycle. Its collection features elegant, timeless pieces such as versatile leather shoppers certified by the Leather Working Group, tops made from GOTS and Oeko-Tex certified cotton as well as high-quality cashmere pieces certified by the Responsible Cashmere Standard.

Working mostly with certified organic fabrics, Cuyana leans towards recycled synthetics if it does use them. The brand does not overproduce its items but manufactures only what it can sell: While the industry standard is to sell 60-70% of what is produced, Cuyana’s percentage is much higher at about 90%. What’s more, the label partners with second-hand platform ThredUp to extend the lifetime of its products by reselling them.

Hera Studio


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Born from creative director Izabel Perez’s desire to create a more authentic fashion that balances aesthetics and consciousness, the Ecuadorian label, Hera Studio, offers a variety of uniquely upcycled and intricately crafted pieces. The brand reverts to a colorful, somewhat playful vibe featuring checkered crochet bucket hats and visibly upcycled linen pieces which it sells at an affordable price point. Each collection is inspired by something music- or art-related that is personally dear to Perez; which further enhances the brand’s authenticity.

Hera Studio produces in Ecuador and makes use of a plethora of organic materials such as linen, hemp, wool, organic cotton, and jute. The brand even experiments with natural dyes such as beetroot, turmeric, red cabbage, or avocado seeds and sources textiles from the 50s, 60s, and 70s to upcycle them to a more modern silhouette. Ultimately, the label excels at combining its Ecuadorian heritage with a contemporary, lively aesthetic that makes its clothes wearable for decades to come.

Palorosa Project


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Founded in 2014 by Italian-Guatemalan landscape architect Cecilia Pirani, Palorosa Project wishes to build the perfect symbiosis between fashion and architecture. What may look like merely beautiful accessories for everyday use, are actually intricate masterpieces designed in Italy and woven by Guatemalan artisans in an ancient technique inherent to the country’s western highlands. While the brand’s atelier and workshop are in Guatemala City, its artisans tend to work remotely to provide for their families while working.

The brand is constantly aiming to ameliorate its products, tapping into working with (partially) recycled fibers such as recycled plastic, cotton, or leather; all of which are sourced in Guatemala. Ultimately, Palorosa combines the vibrant, unique colors and inherently feminine nature of Latin America with an urban culture of design in Milan.




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With its mission to empower women as both consumers and creators of lingerie, Latina women-owned brand Naja has transformed the industry. Founded in 2014 by actress Gina Rodriguez and entrepreneur Catalina Girald, the brand has been staying true to its commitment to ethics by employing single mothers and women heads of households, providing fair wages, healthcare benefits, and flexible work policies to its workers in Medellin, Colombia. Naja’s dedication to education extends to the children of its garment workers, ensuring they have the tools they need for future success.

Innovative materials like upcycled lace, recycled fishing nets, and bio-polymers showcase Naja’s environmental consciousness, as does its use of digital printing and low-impact dyes to minimize water waste and pollution. Naja also utilizes its Underwear for Hope program to employ marginalized women to craft compostable lingerie bags and donate 2% of profits to local charities. Naja demonstrates fashion can have greater impact when combined with a worker-first model and a commitment to sustainable practices.

Palo Rosa Beachwear


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Palo Rosa Beachwear, hailing from Cartagena, Colombia, is a vibrant swimwear label created by designer Carolina Ordoñez in 2013. With an unmistakable nod to the 1960s music scene, Palo Rosa’s collection boasts an energetic and eccentric personality. This brand showcases a range of offerings, from color-blocked bikinis to stretch velvets, asymmetric one-pieces, vibrant animal prints, and geometric patterns.

Palo Rosa prioritizes social responsibility and environmentally consciousness in its production. Its commitment to sustainability includes giving plastic bottles a second chance through the use of recycled materials. While the exact percentage of recycled content isn’t detailed, the brand’s handmade collection signifies a dedication to craftsmanship and the reduction of environmental impact. Core fabrics primarily consist of polyester, lycra, spandex, and elastane, with some sleepwear pieces crafted from rayon. The brand’s continuous innovation in materials, textures, and laser cuts ensures its uniqueness in beachwear, radiating magic, attitude, and vibrant colors.

Selva Negra


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Founded by Mexican and Filipino American designer Kristen Gonzalez, the brand Selva Negra is committed to ethical and sustainable fashion practices. Rooted in a dedication to transparency, it prioritizes environmentally friendly production, using sustainably sourced materials and implementing low-waste solutions, including compostable packaging and upcycling fabric waste. Notably, Selva Negra champions fair-wage practices, ensuring that its entire team receives living wages and and are placed in safe and clean working conditions. Its inclusive sizing ranges up to size 4XL and size 16, with ongoing efforts to expand and improve its offerings.

The brand’s commitment to community shines through its partnerships with nonprofit organizations, contributing to causes that resonate with its values. Selva Negra prioritizes local production, working with family-owned factories in Downtown Los Angeles, reducing its carbon footprint and supporting small businesses. Its upcycled collection creatively repurposes excess materials, further minimizing waste. Moreover, the brand recycles fabric scraps through partner Marimole Recycling, who recycle its scraps and turn them into yarns. Committed to reducing plastic usage, it employs compostable packaging and recycled materials in their shipping practices.

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