In all the years that H&M has produced designer collections—from Karl Lagerfeld in 2004 to Giambattista Valli just this month—the Swedish fast fashion giant has never collaborated with a Latin American designer. H&M’s partners have hailed from Paris, Milan, London, and New York. But Cali, Colombia? Never. Enter Johanna Ortiz. The Colombian designer has produced a capsule collection of four dresses modeled on her feminine, floral-printed signatures that arrives in H&M stores around the world and online on December 3. The “pre-drop” will be followed by a full collection in March 2020. “Reaching out to the world while still living in Colombia, in Cali, a small city—you can go global and still be in your hometown,” says Ortiz. “I’ve never lived for a long time in any fashion capital, but now I’ve been reached by H&M. They came down here to visit me to start working together. It feels like I’m doing things right.” Though Ortiz’s international profile is only a few years old—her first global e-tailer was Moda Operandi, and her colorful, exuberant main line is now available at Net-a-Porter and MatchesFashion—she’s been hard at work doing things right since 2003. Ortiz runs an onsite training program at her factory that offers free sewing and embroidery courses and fosters financial independence among employees-to-be. “We have plenty of talented hands,” Ortiz says, “but they haven’t been exposed to learning.” The H&M partnership will allow her to extend the initiative and continue “professionalizing” local craftspeople.
The four-piece pre-drop includes a tunic style, a minidress, a wrap number, and a tiered, floor-length silhouette in floral prints pulled from Ortiz’s 16-year archive. Naturally, the designer’s trademark ruffles and frills are in full blossom. The March 2020 collection will be significantly larger and will include not just dresses, but also separates and swimwear. “All of us Colombians and Latin Americans will be so proud of getting around the world a little bit our Latin flair,” Ortiz says. “It’s positive communication around the world about this part of the world.”
Courtesy of Vogue