Cuban designers living on the island have to contend with a shortage of materials that makes innovation a must. Who are the top names to look out for, and how do they do what they do?
Idania del Rio and Leire Fernandez
This design duo are responsible for founding Clandestina, the first clothing brand on the island and the first to sell its wares online. They make clothing, accessories and prints, and their work has become essential among trendy locals and tourists alike. You can now order a selection of items from the company website, shipped from an affiliate in the U.S.
Alejo salvages old electronic items and discarded pieces of wood in order to make his salt lamps. Not only do the lamps light up the room, but they also purify the air. At around $30 a pop, his products are largely out of reach for local consumers, but visitors to Havana can take home a unique souvenir for a bargain price.
Arguably the most famous Cuban fashion designer in the world, Rodriguez is a regular at New York Fashion Week. His international success means he has access to materials and resources that many others don’t, but he certainly puts them to good use.
Best known for her colorful minimalist swimsuits, Perez is something of a rising star in Cuban fashion. She still lives on the island, but her reputation is steadily building in the wider world. With bold colors and striking designs, her swimsuits are perfect for standing out from the crowd.
Jewelry designer Vargas is the brains behind the brand Rox950, and she’s got big plans to sell to the U.S. and elsewhere. For now, high taxes mean that’s not possible, but we may soon be seeing her work in other markets.
Ledon has turned a lack of resources into a positive aspect of her work, recycling old objects to create high fashion pieces. She is an insomniac and uses her troubled sleep patterns to get more work done, adding an extra dimension to some of her more outlandish work.
With more than 25 years experience in the fashion world, Rius is a big name in Cuba. His work has won national and international awards, and he also designs the outfits for dancers at the famous Tropicana cabaret in Havana.