HAVANA – Fashion label Clandestina has debuted a new collection based on Cuba’s legacy of international athletic achievement.
The island’s first independent fashion brand has launched its 2020 line, Sports Glories, which is how sports stars are referred to in Cuba.
Designer Idania del Rio told EFE it is a metaphor “about society, of a world that is very polarized again between good and bad, red and blue.”
“In the case of Cuba, it is to honor the sacrifice of athletes, but also the sacrifice of the Cuban people that every day have to go out on the street to make a career, to win first place in something,” she added.
Cubans face queues for everything, transportation and housing problems, economic straits and chronic shortages are some of the daily challenges.
Kimonos inspired by boxing, sportswear with a print of images of Olympic torches and iconography taken from athletics, volleyball, baseball and other disciplines in which Cuba has shone in recent decades dot the collection.
There are also references to the country’s Soviet heritage and Afro-Cuban culture.
Clandestina is seen as one of the paradigms of the booming self-employed on the island.
SIDES AND OLYMPICS
Founder Leire Fernandez said: “People are very used to the American car and we replace it with the Russian Lada, the polaquito or the Moskvich that are really the cars that are used in Cuba.”
The vintage vehicles still populate Cuban roads and are used as a print on several garments, while others highlight phrases written in the Cyrillic alphabet.
“It is to look at Cuban reality, use sports glories as an excuse to see what the Cuban reality is like and highlight symbols and elements that are super-embedded in their culture, like all Russian influence,” Fernandez added.
The collection was exhibited on a catwalk installed in a sports hall with Cuban sports stars as models.
Athlete Javier Sotomayor, whose high jump record remains undefeated, runner Ana Fidelia Quirot and volleyball player Regla Torres, considered the best of the 20th century, modelled garments from the collection to excited applause from the 4,000 attendees.
“They are people who have had a huge impact on society and it is an incredible honor to accompany us,” Del Rio said.
LACK OF FUEL
The presence of sports stars was one of many anecdotes in a catwalk that took place amid an economic crisis and fuel shortages that the country is facing due to the tightening of the United States embargo, among other factors.
In times of energy saving and poor lighting, the audience helped illuminate the show with their phones, as the organizers had asked guests in advance to bring devices with enough battery.
“In Cuba, every day is complicated and once again we are part of that,” the designer said.
“It is complicated to be an athlete, it is complicated to be a model, it is difficult to be a designer, a housewife.
“The catwalk will be dark because you have to save electricity, but as always we are going to read these aspects from our vision and providing a sense of humor.”
Fernandez described this as “Cuban solidarity, people are very used to doing that kind of thing.”
Together with the new collection, the Cuban label also premiered a collaboration with Italian sports shoe brand Superga, whose popular canvas shoes have been customized with their own designs.
A Clandestina official said it was the “perfect” symbiosis, since the company does not make footwear because it is difficult to produce clothes on the island and making shoes would require a huge effort.