Patty Delgado's first foray into the world of fashion happened sort of by accident. While on a trip to Mexico City in the summer of 2016, she purchased a sequined appliqué of la Virgen de Guadalupe at a market and fastened it to the back of her favorite denim jacket.
“For me, there’s nothing more American than denim and more Mexican than la Virgen de Guadalupe. It was kind of like the perfect composite of my identity,” Delgado tells Glamour. “I felt so powerful wearing my Virgencita jacket, especially considering the political climate…. I knew there were so many other women who could be able to connect with this jacket the way I connected with it.” She didn’t know it then, but this would be the first piece of Hija de Tu Madre, the L.A.-based fashion brand she founded just a few months later.
Up until that point, Delgado had been working as a freelance graphic designer. But she had a goal to create an inclusive fashion brand centered on Latinx identity—and $500 to put toward it. So in November 2016, right around a certain election, she officially launched Hija de Tu Madre, which sells pieces inspired by Latinx culture: shirts and sweaters with phrases like “Make Jefa Moves” and “Ya Guey”; beauty tools (including a pelo suelto comb!); miscellaneous accessories (like a “Si se puede” notepad and the “Yo quiero dinero” bracelet). She quit her day job to focus on the business full-time five months later.
Delgado’s mission with Hija de Tu Madre is to “Latinx-ify” fashion. A big part of this is communicating with customers directly, to ensure the brand appeals to a greater Latinx consumer base and is inclusive of what it means to identify as such. “We’re always having this dialogue about what it means to be Latinx and it’s very complicated," Delgado says. "Latinx isn’t a homogenized word to describe, like, one singular identity. We definitely want our customers to feel so powerful when they wear something by us. I think that our customers are living in a diaspora—we’re all over the world. It doesn’t really matter where you’re at, you can still celebrate your culture.”
Hija de Tu Madre also ensures it remains committed to serving the community by adding a charitable element to its business. Earlier this year the brand released a white T-shirt with the words “Fuck ICE” written in bold lettering over the heart, with 20% of the proceeds donated to Border Kindness, a nonprofit providing aid to migrant children at the U.S.-Mexico border.
“For us, it’s always been important to have a charitable element to what we do…[and] stay in touch with what’s going on and affecting our community,” Delgado says. “It’s obviously really important to be positive and keep empowering our people, but at the same time, I can’t be a Latinx brand if I’m not aware of the issues that are affecting our community. I love to bring issues to light and to be able to share these conversations with our customers.” She's also collaborated with fellow Latinx entrepreneurs: She partnered with Rizos Curls for Hija de Tu Madre to have a booth at L.A.'s Beautycon. (They're collaborating once again on a "LAtina" jewelry collection timed to Latinx Heritage Month.)
While Delgado admitted there have been various challenges to being a Latina in both the entrepreneurial and fashion spaces, she said one recurring theme is the need to convince people that the Latinx consumer is mainstream.
“There’s this notion that Latinx is still a minority and it’s not. We’re leading the most entrepreneurial business growth in the United States,” she says. “We overspend and overindex in a lot of different buying categories. We are mainstream, and I think that’s definitely the message that we’re trying to get across with our brand—that yes, anyone can buy Hija de Tu Madre, but it’s very important that the world recognizes that Latinx aren’t going anywhere.”
Despite their spending power (estimated to grow to $1.7 trillion in the U.S. by 2020), Latinx consumers are not often represented in fashion—though their aesthetic has frequently been co-opted or used as a source of inspiration. Think of all the music videos, editorials, runways, and red-carpet moments from the ’90s to today that are reminiscent of chola style, deemed “stylish” when worn by white women.
Delgado says that Hija de Tu Madre isn’t necessarily reclaiming this aesthetic, but rather making room for authentic Latinx brands to flourish.
“It’s not so much taking back space; it’s creating our own space where we can feel free and safe to express identity,” Delgado says. “Cultural appropriation does happen and it sucks, but my customer isn't as distracted by it. I think it’s really important for us to be able to distinguish what’s authentic, what’s ours, and keep creating our own representation.”
Originally Appeared on Glamour