MEXICO CITY — Latino Fashion Week, which promotes young and emerging Latino designers, is mulling bringing in an investment partner to grow the business, according to cofounder Arabel Alva Rosales.
“We are open to negotiating with an investor interested in helping us develop a national platform,” Rosales said. “We have something very solid to offer and have developed brand and media contacts.”
LFW has reached a tipping point where growth is expected to rise sharply, Rosales said.
With the slogan “By Latinos, for Everyone,” LFW is a week-long event held in Chicago since 2008. Billed as the largest Latino designer platform in the U.S., it has one-day offshoots in Miami, Dallas and Los Angeles.
As it works to lure new visitors, sponsors and introduce designer training, Rosales expects revenues to rise 10 to 15 percent a year after 2015, up from 10 percent in recent years.
The latest Chicago edition, which ended Oct. 4, attracted 10,000 people, 10 percent more than in 2013, as 22 local and international designers showcased their latest clothing, jewelry and accessories collections.
Colombia’s Argemiro Sierra, Mexico’s Lorena Saravia and Miami-based celebrity dresser Rosarito Hurtado were some of the highlights.
“Every night, we had about 200 more people than we expected, Rosales said. “We had to stop sales as there was no more capacity at the venue,” Chicago’s Block 37 mall.
This year’s top Chicago sponsors — Chevrolet, Allstate Foundation and J.C. Penney Co. Inc. — are considering backing the Dallas, Miami and Los Angeles events (which are set to be expanded to two days) in 2015. Another longtime backer, Macy’s Inc., could also join in while Hispanic network Univision could do a broadcast feature next year, Rosales said.
LFW is also moving to enlarge its boutique partner network by 10 to 20 members a year. Sierra, who mixes Colombian indigenous themes with urban wear, won orders from Chicago’s Akira boutique chain and other undisclosed retailers in the latest show, underscoring the channel’s effectiveness for helping publicize new designers, she said.
On that note, LFW wants to bring in higher-quality designers, notably in men’s wear, after the category generated a lot of buzz in the last show.
“It’s not so much about quantity but quality,” she said. In the last event, “we had very good local and international designers, especially in men’s wear, which you don’t get that much of in the Chicago fashion weeks.”
Designer training is also in the cards. Rosales intends to roll out training courses next year to help designers fashion effective business and marketing plans. The program will be taught by bringing other successful Latino designers, possibly Chicago-native Lazaro Perez, owner of the Lazaro and Tara Keely collections, to the fold.
To further boost expansion, Rosales is contemplating moving LFW to a larger location or adding afternoon runway shows and events at Block 37. A big social media push is underway, in partnership with Latino media app Tu Familia and Verizon.
“We want to keep growing this vehicle so that it has a much bigger impact,” she said, adding that she will work to improve designer and sponsor branding to directly target Latinos with bilingual messaging.
LFW’s planned expansion comes as the U.S. Latino market is booming, with the demographic’s buying power expected to hit $1.5 trillion next year, driven by the population’s rapid growth.
“The opportunity is huge,” Rosales enthused. “Latinos love fashion. At a very early stage, Latinas like to dress up, wear accessories, make-up and style their hair.
“For the fashion industry, this market could be a bonanza.”