December 5, 2013
By Melissa Castellanos
Latinos in the United States see the world through many dimensions -- the vantage point is rich in culture, heritage and diversity. It embodies the love of friends and family, music, sports and delicious cuisine. The Latino experience, which can be both traditional and contemporary, also encompasses a new dynamic, one that is vibrant and hip and cutting-edge and is constantly being redefined with each generation.
So, how do you see life through Latin eyes? Color Latino is on a mission to find out.
Based in Miami, Color Latino, otherwise known as the "Ambassadors of Latin Culture in Fashion," is the "only fashion brand on the market that sells culturally relevant casual apparel and accessories to Latino men and women." Recently, it launched a fun, new social media campaign on Instagramcalled #ThroughLatinEyes to find out how Latinos in the U.S. see the world.
Color Latino is the brainchild of designer, creator and entrepreneur Alvaro De Jesus, who hails from Caracas, Venezuela. In addition to his Venezuelan roots, he has spent time in both Dublin, Ireland and Colombia as well. He came to Miami a year ago after establishing a successful marketingcompany that specializes in helping designers launch their own clothing lines. It was a perfect launching pad for his U.S. company and another way to empower Latin designers who make clothing for Latinos.
"It's been really interesting...in Miami there was a lot to learn from what the Latino lifestyle meant here in the United States," De Jesus told the Latin Post. "So instead of just guessing, we wanted to open a conversation with our customers and have them tell us what they would expect from a clothing brand that would capture, in a sense, Latino culture."
When customers purchase a pair of sunglasses from Color Latino, they are encouraged to take a creative picture, either wearing the sunglasses or holding up the sunglasses with artwork or a menu at a restaurant, "perhaps it's a Latin restaurant," De Jesus explained.
The #ThroughLatinEyes sunglasses campaign has been an eye-opener for Color Latino, offering valuable insight and helping to shape the direction of the brand.
Color Latino customers "are having fun posting the pictures on Instagram. And we get a picture of what Latinos are up to basically. It gives us a lot of insight into how people interact with that part of their life," De Jesus said.
When going through the first Instagram images of the campaign, De Jesus was somewhat surprised to see so many of the images involving food -- but he realized it's a huge component of the Latino experience. He particularly loved a picture of an avocado sporting the shades with a Puerto Rican flag behind it.
De Jesus also pointed out a shift in the attitudes of Latino millenials, who are embracing all sides of their identity in the U.S.
"It's that duality that Latinos have here in the United States -- they can switch 100 percent American to 100 percent Latino in an instant, depending who's asking or what they are related with," he said. "That's one of the things that we are learning...that with Latinos there are so many cultures, but they are so different, but when you put them together they create a unique bond."
Color Latino "aims to target second and third generation Latinos (ages 15 - 35) who want to wear a clothing brand that reflects the diversity of Latino culture and values." The laid-back collection has t-shirts, pullovers, beanies, and sunglasses. Latinos can look stylish yet comfortable while making a cultural statement at the same time.
According to De Jesus, the company's best seller is its New York T-shirt because of its unique details. When you look at the "n" in New York, it has a tilda, which resonates with Color Latino consumers. "They are attracted to that..those are the real subtleties and the cultural references that they get behind," he explained.
While marketing is somewhat different in Latin America than the U.S., (with social media being a big component in the U.S) when it comes to fashion, in Latin America, "people always look towards American brands," such as Hollister, American Eagle, Polo and Gap.
Fashion is a competitive market in the U.S., but Color Latino is starting to "gain a lot of acceptance in retail." It hopes to gain the attention of larger retail chains, who are also trying to tap into the Latino market and come up with a Latino-oriented strategy. The company is casting a wider net among Latino populations throughout the U.S., including Florida, Texas and California.
With his proven track record in marketing and design and a desire to really understand his customers, does De Jesus have any advice for Latino entrepreneurs or start-ups?
"I think mainly the advice I would give any entrepreneur would be to understand your audience and come up with a real, strong business plan that you want to focus on," he said.
Source: Latin Post