Lizet Esquivel
Lizet Esquivel
Lizet Esquivel has 10 years' experience in the fashion industry working for Latin American brands. She has organized fashion shows internationally in Dubai, the USA, Finland, Dominican Republic, and Mexico.

The 3 New Top Latin American Designers to Watch in 2024.

LAFS, the powerful community renowned for its omnichannel platform showcasing Latin American talent to the world, took place from November 6 to 8, 2023 in the Design District of Miami, there were 3 days dedicated to all things Latin American Fashion and more:

  • Inspiring Conferences: Conferences by industry leaders and world-renowned fashion professionals
  • Networking Events: For fashion, design, and beauty entrepreneurs
  • The LAFS Pop-Up: An impeccable curatorship of the best of Latino Design
  • Luxury Brand Activations
  • The Glamorous Themed Closing Ceremony Gala, the most fun night in Latin American Fashion where were announced the Pitch to LAFS winners.

Pitch to LAFS is an annual contest in search of the next big Latin American emerging talents. Only 9 brands were selected in the region, this was the fourth year of this competition.

Pitch to LAFS has 3 categories: Latin Designer of the Year, Accessories Designer of the Year, and Social Impact Project of the Year, these 9 talents presented their brands in front of a jury composed of the most influential names in the fashion world, in this 2023 edition some of them were: Arielle Siboni, Fashion Director for RTW at Bloomingdales, Johanna Ortiz, Designer, Maria Williams, Senior Buyer at Net-a-Porter, Silvia Tcherassi, Designer, Trisha Gregory, Chief Brand Officer at Luxury Stores at Amazon, The Celebrity Stylist, Irma Martinez, Carmen Busquets, Entrepreneur, Strategic Investor, and Philanthropist among others and there is only one winner per category. The prizes included money, trunk shows with retailers, mentorship sessions, and most importantly visibility. Every designer who has won and has been a finalist is today a success story in the global and regional market. That´s why the winners of this 2023 are the new top talents to watch in 2024.

Latin Designer of the Year: Maria Elena Villamil (Colombia).

Her personal signature is reflected through the harmonious syncretism of her combinations, the exploration of textures and abstract graphics, the skill in patronage, the experimentation of linear forms that spread freely in space and generate volumes, evolve to versatile forms reflecting a concept of simple and natural beauty; these architectural lines characterize her work.

Accessories Designer of the Year: Paola Sighinolfi (Colombia).

A Colombian-born, Barcelona-based designer, the founder and creative mind behind PAOLA SIGHINOLFI JEWELRY. As the direct descendant of the Italian sculptor Césare Sighinolfi, creativity runs in her blood. She developed an aesthetic sensibility from a young age and was particularly fascinated by the precious stones found in her native Colombia.

Social Impact Project of the year: Escvdo (Peru).

Escvdo, is a sustainable luxury brand approaching contemporary design through visionary creations, excellence in craftsmanship, and a special care for quality. ESCVDO was founded in 2013 by sisters Chiara and Giuliana Macchiavello, an artist and a fashion designer who share a deep-seated passion for Peru, its traditions, and its vast natural and cultural wealth.

During the Closing Ceremony Gala Presented by Zacapa Rum, at Alfred Dupont Building, the winners talked to FWO about what meant for them to be winners of Pitch to LAFS.

Maria Elena Villamil

Q: What does it mean for you to be a Pitch to LAFS winner?

The excitement is infinite, the infinite gratitude with all the organizers of LAFS, I feel that it is an absolutely great platform, and it is like the dream fulfilled of having come here and having this exposure of my brand so great on this platform of Pitch to LAFS.

Q: What’s next for the brand now that you’ve won?

The visibility that we can have through the platform and all possible contacts or business that can be done internationally that we have dreamed so much, that our brand expands internationally, I think we can achieve it.

Paola Sighinolfi

Q: What does it mean for you to be a Pitch to LAFS winner?

It is an indescribable dream, never in my life, I had imagined something like it, it is an emotion, a responsibility, a desire to continue working, well there are no words.

Q: What’s next for the brand now that you’ve won?

I have been fighting for so many years to be able to demonstrate what it was worth, to be able to demonstrate what I had to say, I now believe that I am able to continue growing, to be able to give opportunity to people, to bring happiness, to provide job opportunities, Well I don’t know, it’s all just keep growing and growing and this is just the beginning,

Escvdo by Chiara Macchiavello

Q: What does it mean for you to be a Pitch to LAFS winner?

For me it is an incredible recognition because it is so many years of work, to be recognized by all those judges and this platform that opens the doors of an international market, at a very important level, means sustainability in the project that we are working on in Peru, with all those artisans and I’m sure that this will grow the network of artisans, will grow the social impact that we’re making so it’s actually growth not just for me, for the brand, it’s growth for 350 families, many people, many children, is a community growth, for me it is the best community, we work in 8 provinces in the 3 regions of the country.

Q: What’s next for the brand now that you’ve won?

Continue positioning us in an international market, in a much stronger way, to be able to start opening more doors, more positioning and next year also start to diversify a little the brand’s product line, make collaborations, I think there are many possibilities.

The LAFS program was composed of panels and talks focused on the themes of Entrepreneurship, Wellness, Beauty, Leadership, Fashion Retail, Financial Literacy, Sustainability, and the most inspiring journeys to the top.

The guest speakers who participated are renowned leaders in the sector at an international level as Diane Von Furstenberg, The Belgian born American design icon, Ginny Wright CEO of Audemars Piguet, Americas, Edgardo Osorio, Founder of Aquazzura, April Hennig Chief Merchandising Officer Moda Operandi, Rickie de Sole Women’s Fashion Director Nordstrom, Divya Mathur Fashion Director Revolve Group, Tata Harper, founder of Tata Harper Skincare, Ana Khouri, jewelry designer, Emilio Estefan Grammy and Emmy Award Winning Producer, Craig Robins CEO and President of Dacra among others.

One of the novelties of this 2023 edition was the Breakout Sessions, which were 45-minute discussions led by an industry expert and only 15 attendees of LAFS Miami 2023. Some remarkable ones were Planet People Progress with Carolina Kleinman, Founder, and Creative Director Carolina K, where she shared the story of her sustainable brand and its social impact, in this private conversation, she pointed out the importance of business management with transparency, traceability, and certifications and about how sustainable brands can scale without being a not-fast fashion company.

Profitability Matters in collaboration with Vistete de Colombia by Johanna Isaac Fadul, Fashion Business Consultant, in this talk, the speaker shared her story of failures and successes, she remarked to the young entrepreneurs in the room, the value of setting a clear price strategy, she recommended, to build a support a group, to be true to themselves, also she responded a lot of questions about how to have a successful business.

Wear Your Values: How to Build a Transparent Brand with Taryn Hipwell and Francesca Belluomini, two experts on circularity and transparency, both speakers were very enthusiastic about responding to a lot of questions from the small audience of 15 people about sustainability for example vegan leather versus animal leather, they encouraged attendees to wear/ design only brands aligned to their personal values.

LAFS was backed by great brands and personalities among them: Craig Robbins CEO and founder of Miami Design District, Shop with Google, and Mastercard. Something very remarkable was the LAFS 2023 attendees could enjoy a concert in the Miami design district of Emily Estefan Daughter of singer Gloria Estefan and producer Emilio Estefan. LAFS is an event that provides knowledge, networking, and above all inspiration stories for entrepreneurs from all over the world but mainly from Latin America to push them to follow their dreams and succeed in the fashion industry.


With love,


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