When it launched in 2019, Proyecto Republica became the only online shopping destination of its kind, highlighting emerging Ibero-American designers. Now, it’s launching in the U.S., bringing its edit of Spanish, Portuguese, and Central and South American labels to a whole new demographic. “I wanted to bring Ibero-American brands to other markets, so that they would gain more recognition on an international level and be able to participate more closely in the global conversation,” says Catalina Maurette, the e-tailer’s founder. “I love all of the different cultures in these regions of the world, and I wanted to help tell the stories behind them: the ancestry, the artistry, and more.”
A focus on craft, high-quality textiles, and a contemporary look is present throughout the collections showcased on the site. “I was fascinated by the love that goes into making each piece,” says Maurette of their current assortment. Benedetta Quaratesi, Proyecto Republica’s fashion director, adds that many of the labels all share a sustainable approach to design, too. “[The brands] all express creativity, vision, and innovation, while respecting the traditional techniques they consider valuable to their cultures,” she says.
Currently, the platform is split across three different categories—clothing, accessories, and jewelry—and within each, one will also find the option to shop by country, highlighting brands from Argentina, Péru, El Salvador, and more. “Our goal is for our customers to feel as if they are transported to the different places where the pieces were made,” says Quaratesi. Personal highlights for the fashion director include the brands who are using traditional materials and giving them a fresh, modern feel. “Mozh Mozh does incredible, one-of-a-kind textile work, and Bolazo stands out with its hand-painted patterns,” says Benedetta. “Nous Etudions is also known for its geometric cuts and high-volume pieces.”
Proyecto Republica’s offering isn’t just based on aesthetics, either (though many of the pieces, such as a beaded, knitted Mozh Mozh tank, or Escudo’s deep-V cotton maxi dress, are incredibly chic.) Empowering female designers is a special focus for the team. Proyecto Republica is led by mostly women, and they want to spotlight similar businesses. “I think it’s important to support other women entrepreneurs and artists and help set an industry standard for greater gender equality,” says Maurette. “In Ibero-America, there is still a good deal of that traditional ‘machismo.’ In creating a team led by women, we are giving members an opportunity to work doing what they love.”
Now that the platform is open to the U.S., Maurette simply hopes that a new audience of consumers will be introduced to Ibero-American talent. “It is important to us to be able to help preserve these stories, by helping them find a place in contemporary fashion,” says Catalina. “There are so many different cultures throughout Ibero-America, each with a story to tell.”