Ask any travel-obsessed person in your life where they’re dying to jet off to next, and chances are, Mexico City will be at the top of their bucket list — and rightfully so. The Mexican capital is a melting pot of culture, after all. Food & Wine crowned it the No. 1 best international city for food in 2023, and the art community is exploding with esteemed galleries and museums; its annual Zona Maco event, which one could compare to Miami’s Art Basel, is the largest art fair in Latin America. CDMX, which is shorthand for Ciudad de México, also has a burgeoning fashion scene that’s on a strong upward climb. Thanks to its emerging designers and eclectic street style, the city is one to watch.
Locals note the area’s style scene began to expand around the late 2010s, when a host of creatives flocked to the city, bringing their years of expertise and craft along with them. “We started getting a large influx of foreigners, including many people from New York, Berlin, Paris, and London, who already had established fashion industries where they were from,” says writer Ana Karina Zatarai, who contributes to publications like The New Yorker and GQ. As an example, the Sinaloa-born columnist points to her friend Cynthia Cervantes, a well-known creative director and stylist with a client roster boasting labels like Nike, Opening Ceremony, and Woolrich. When Cervantes relocated to CDMX from New York in 2019, Zatarai recalls how she made an active, conscious effort to know and represent local brands, such as Tuza Mx.
Patricio Campillo, founder of The Pack, a Mexico City-born menswear label founded in 2015, says another wave of talent descended upon the city in 2020. Why? People simply found the quality of life in CDMX was better during the early days of the pandemic. “Somehow, we found a way to open restaurants and figure out the next steps just by pulling through,” explains Campillo. As such, folks from various global industries migrated to CDMX, which the designer notes allowed the Mexican art and design scene to have visibility.
Campillo calls out Purple magazine’s Mexico issue in September 2021 as a turning point for the fashion industry. The edition highlighted local young brands based in Mexico City, such as Sánchez-Kane, Blobb, and Scent. “We had major artists and fashion editors [here for it], which was really interesting,” he says. As the outlet’s team spent time in the city for shoots, they became closely acquainted with local designers, artists, photographers, and models. “Mexico City was already becoming a culturally relevant place, but this just allowed everything to kind of boom,” adds Campillo.
Sofia Elias, creator of the aforementioned jewelry company Blobb, echoes Campillo. “The [industry’s] evolution can be seen in the increasing representation of Mexican designers in global fashion events and publications,” explains the designer, whose quirky and whimsical jewelry brand is making a mark on the CDMX fashion industry (as well as capturing the attention of it girls like Dua Lipa and Bella Hadid). She’s seen an uptick of interest in work since being featured in publications like The New York Times, Forbes, Vogue, and Highsnobiety, with art placements, galleries, and pop-ups in New York and Paris.
This increased attention toward Mexico, and CDMX specifically, has allowed resident creators to zero in on specific parts of their culture. In Campillo’s case, this means crafting clothing influenced by charros, what he described as the Mexican version of cowboys. He says during the first few years building his brand, he was looking outside his experience for inspiration, rather than referencing his charros roots. “But then I realized there was this amazing cultural baggage that I had experienced and lived firsthand my whole life,” he explains. “I was surrounded by horses ever since I was very little.” Turning to his upbringing for ideas has allowed him to tell stories often related to Mexico, and you can see charro style come to life in The Pack’s fitted suits and leather separates.
Though a bit under the radar before, Mexico City’s vibrant culture has always encompassed a broad sphere of forward-thinking style. What’s really changed is the increased global awareness around it. Sandra Weil is a designer who’s been plugging at her craft — which centers around beautifully structured, feminine ready-to-wear — for just over a decade. “It hasn’t happened overnight, but it's been real hard work of a lot of really committed people to make this change and to find opportunities in their hometown,” Weil explains of the recent trajectory. Now her and her peers’ hard work and dedication are paying off.
If these past few years are any indication, CDMX’s style scene is shaping up to be at the forefront of the fashion industry (watch out, New York and Paris). Read on for more of what the bustling fashion hot spot has to offer.
The Street Style
Jess Gutierrez, Elle Mexico’s fashion director, uses the word unpredictable to describe what you’ll see walking around the capital. “It's a playground for everyone to experiment and have fun; that's the magic of Mexico,” she tells TZR. “It’s also about how we grew up with all the culture, food, and music. We're really proud of our roots right now, and I think that's setting us apart from the rest.”
As for specific styles trending in CDMX, Gutierrez references cowboy boots, often worn with a cute lace skirt. Skinny jeans are a no-no at the moment; instead, everyone is slipping into roomy cargos and wide-leg pants. “Eyewear is really important right now,” the fashion director adds, pointing to big frames in red and white colors as a popular option. “It’s cool to see on the streets because it’s never happened before.”
The Shopping Scene
When Weil first moved to Mexico City 15 years ago for a relationship, the shopping scene was, well, a bit sleepy. “I remember getting here, and asking my boyfriend, ‘Where should we go? What's local?’” Short answer at the time: not too much. Now, however, the city is replete with stores. Her brand has an outpost in the Polanco neighborhood, which is also home to boutiques like Onora (a go-to spot for home goods from local artisans) and Yakampot (a women’s shop that collaborates with local producers). “It's exciting [to see] everyone pushing each other forward,” she adds.
Aude Jan, co-founder of handbag brand Audette, can also attest to CDMX as an up-and-coming shopping destination. “At the end of December 2020, we were able to open our store, and there was this [group] of designers starting to open their own [around that time too],” she explains. Why a surge in new boutiques? Her best guess: “A lot of people, especially Americans, realize that next to their country, they have a capital where they can find art, design, great restaurants.”
For those planning to visit the capital soon, Jan has a few suggestions of areas to check out during your stay. She first mentions Roma, which Vogue dubbed the Williamsburg of Mexico City. It recently soared to fame thanks to the 2018 Oscar-winning film named after the district by Alfonso Cuarón, which is about the city in the ‘70s. “The creative people live [here], and lately, people coming from other cities are staying there,” adds Weil. Stroll around the vibrant neighborhood and you’ll come across stores like Carla Fernández, a womenswear label that collaborates with artisans from all over Mexico, and Goodbye Folk Vintage Boutique.
The neighborhood Juarez, too, has garnered attention over the years for its shopping, says Jan. In the area, which exudes a low-key, relaxed vibe (read: less touristy than Roma), popular places include homeware shop Utilitario Mexicano and Casa Caballeria, a men's concept store. (And if you have a sweet tooth, don’t miss out on the chance to experience the Museo de Chocolate, which, yes, is a chocolate museum.)
Though residents are pleased with the city’s flourishing style scene, there is one thing they’d love to see in the future: more worldwide attention on its fashion week. Weil says while the Zona Maco arts festival draws in folks from all over, CDMX’s fashion shows, which will take place in a few weeks, are mostly all locals. That said, Weil dreams of the day when out-of-towners congregate in Mexico City for their fashion week instead of her community traveling to New York and Paris. “This place has that potential.”