Latin American Fashion Summit (LAFS) has become a powerful community, created by renowned Latina entrepreneurs Estefanía Lacayo and Samantha Tams with the mission to elevate and enrich the Latin American fashion industry and make it more relevant than ever. LAFS emerged after noting the lack of opportunities in Latin America and the growing interest of the industry in the region. It has had 3 editions, the first in 2018 in Rivera Maya, Mexico, the second in 2019 in Cartagena, Colombia, the third in 2020 was 100% digital.
“LAFS brings together under the same roof the leaders of the big fashion capitals and Latin America, however, it is an inclusive event”
The fourth edition of LAFS will take place in Miami, from March 14 to 16, 2022.
I had the pleasure of interviewing its founders Estefanía Lacayo and Samantha Tams to learn first-hand all the details of this next edition.
What are the novelties of this fourth edition?
Estefania: In this edition, we are incorporating homeware, the reason is that we have seen great growth in Latin America in this category and with a lot of potential. In this sense, we will have a panel with Tomás Vera, founder of Verdi, a Latin American architect, and an interior designer.
There will be a sustainability workshop in homeware, that will be something new this 2022, as always, the part of buyers is a great component for us because it is what our audience is interested in, Fabricio Cardenas, Senior Buyer of NET-A-PORTER has confirmed, also buyers of Nordstrom, The Webster, Carbon38 among others.
We have also started to incorporate music because we know the importance of fashion in music, Pilar Castaño will interview the singer and composer Fonseca. Also, art, Craig Robins who owns the Design District and is a great art collector, he’s going to participate on a panel.
On the subject of Women's Empowerment, there will be a panel of three women business leaders, one of them is Adriana Cisneros, CEO of Cisneros Media, a global media, and entertainment company. In LAFS we have many participants who are entrepreneurs. The idea of the panel is to highlight the role of women as leaders and also day by day as mothers and wives.
The topic of sustainability cannot be missing, we will have a panel about the circular economy where Patricia Ermecheo, who is a sustainable entrepreneur, develops a yarn that avoids the use of materials such as cotton, polyester, and toxic inks, and brands like Stella McCartney and Nike have already implemented it to their collections.
There will be networking lunches with super interesting speakers and there will be two themed parties. The opening party will be at the Miami Botanical Garden and the closing party will have as a theme "magic realism "the party will be at the Gary Nader gallery. Gary is a Miami-based Dominican art collector and has the world’s largest collection of Fernando Botero.
“We want to advance and enhance the Latin American fashion, we are very focused on those things do happen, there are many events around Latin America and in other places, that do an excellent job in exhibiting the fashion of a certain country, but a call to action is missing”
What is the added value that LAFS brings compared to other fashion events in the region?
Samantha: The results, yes, we want to advance and enhance the Latin American fashion, we are very focused on those things do happen, there are many events around Latin America and in other places, that do an excellent job in exhibiting the fashion of a certain country, but a call to action is missing. In LAFS we give real business opportunities to the people who attend, who exhibit, present. We give results, we have several testimonies of entrepreneurs who have come forward, who already have international representation, who have managed to connect with the leaders of the industry: Media, investors, buyers, we bring strategic people that you can rarely access and with this come many things, such as the beginning of a working relationship, real business opportunities and growth for the brand.
The event takes 3 editions, one in Rivera Maya, Mexico, another in Cartagena, Colombia, last year was virtual because of the pandemic and the next edition will be from March 14 to 16, 2022 in Miami, what are the expectations of organizing it in this place?
Estefanía: The pandemic came, and the United States was moving faster with the issue of vaccination, unlike the Latin American countries that were going much slower. The safety of our speakers and our community is a priority, we could not risk their health by taking them to some Latin American countries.
Miami has a stable economy and air connectivity is excellent, there are a variety of direct flights and deals. Miami is the capital of Latin America, here you have all the cultures of Latin America. In terms of logistics and health, it was the right city for this fourth edition of LAFS.
Could you mention some names of the personalities who already confirmed their attendance at the event?
Samantha: We have Key Opinion Leaders from Latin America, people who positively influence entrepreneurship within their country, for example, Nane Miller, Sisterly Style, Laura Tobón, Raquel Cañas, Atenas Hernández, among others.
We will have buyers from Matches Fashion, Net-A-Porter, Operandi Fashion, Farfetch, in addition to multi-brand stores from different countries such as Entre sueños en Guatemala, Ave Maria in San Salvador among others. Everyone will meet and discover new talent.
We will also have the presence of sponsors such as the Miami Design District, Audemars Piguet, Perrier, Johanna Ortiz, Maygel Coronel, who by the way was the winner of the Pitch to LAFS 2019, being a small brand in Cartagena, today it sells in more than 22 countries and has become a sponsor of LAFS in 2022.
“We will have buyers from Matches Fashion, Net-A-Porter, Operandi Fashion, Farfetch, in addition to multi-brand stores from different countries”
Is this an event only for fashion professionals in Latin America?
Estefanía: The event is for anyone who has an interest in the fashion industry. The name of Latin American Fashion Summit is born because our mission is to elevate and enrich the fashion industry in the region, but after three editions of making it, we have realized that our content interests all over the world. In 2020 that was a digital edition we had attendees from India, South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, plus people from England, Spain, France, Italy. One of the components of the platform is content, but another component is networking and what we want is to connect Latin America with the rest of the world.
LAFS brings together under the same roof the leaders of the big fashion capitals and Latin America, however, it is an inclusive event. For example, the event VOICES organized by The Business of Fashion takes place outside London once a year, to attend you have to be invited and pay a considerable amount. The same with other events organized by Vogue, WWD in New York, etc. Then I thought, what a pity that all those people I talk to day by day, who have so many doubts about how to implement market strategies in their business, do not have access to these events either because of a financial or contact issue.
LAFS is not a single event, it has become a real channel between designers and buyers, as well as a beautiful community, tell us about the different projects they have carried out to benefit Latin brands.
Samantha: LAFS started as an event, but today is a platform with several vehicles, these vehicles are the event, another is a digital showroom that we launched with a partner called NuORDER, where it was explored in a digital way, being able to have a presence for eight weeks so that the brands were really known, display their product in a digital way to buyers for wholesale. Another vehicle is academic partnerships that we make with several universities in Latin America and the United States, where we curate content and executive courses. Our communication channels, where LAFS is recognized for the creation of content through our podcast, our social networks, our newsletter where we communicate relevant information, of value about the sector or discoveries of brands or personalities within the Latin American industry. We also have a very strong influencers program, which is also a vehicle that has helped us with the sponsors we work with, who seek to collaborate with profiles of Latin American influencers. LAFS is already an ecosystem. All these vehicles have helped us to cover certain deficiencies that we saw within the Latin American industry, such as access to industry leaders, we do it physically with LAFS and it is done in a digital way with Tribu.
“One of the components of the platform is content, but another component is networking and what we want is to connect Latin America with the rest of the world”
What is the PITCH TO LAFS and who are the finalists of this fourth edition?
Estefanía: It is an annual competition in search of the next great talents of Latin American fashion, in which five finalists by category (Latin American Designer of the Year, Latin American Accessories Designer of the Year, Positive Impact Project of the Year) present their marks or projects before a jury composed of twenty eminences of the category. During the pitch development process, participants receive in-depth consultancy to refine their proposals from outstanding teachers at Istituto Marangoni. As in the last two editions, the winners will receive extraordinary prizes and recognitions.
For this fourth edition the semifinalists are:
Latin American Designer of the Year
- Eugenia Fernández
- Leal Daccarett
- Port de Bras
- By Efrain Mogollon
Latin American Accessories Designer of the Year
- Susana Vega Jewelry
- María José Jewelry
- Palma Canaria
- Michelle Daccarett
- Naybe Warchausky
Positive Impact Project of the Year
- Annaiss Yucra
- Patricia Govea Collection
- Taller Maya
During LAFS 2020, which was a virtual edition, you launched TRIBU, tell us about this project and how Tribu complements LAFS.
Samantha: Tribu is our sister company, it’s our digital platform that is a professional networking network, where people share, meet, propose ideas, propose jobs, that we launched in 2020 as a response to creating a digital meeting point in which we could meet again physically, is a fairly complete network that is growing more and more every day.
It somehow complements the meeting point, otherwise, you can go to the event physically, being in Tribu you have access to all LAFS content that has been produced in the past and content that is constantly being produced, including LAFS 2022. LAFS content lives in Tribu all the time. In addition, there are several podcasts, webinars, round tables, etc. To be a member you need to request an invitation, a request where you explain your profile, occupation, interests, the idea is to have partners that bring value to the community, once accepted, you can create your profile. Membership costs $295 per year and there are monthly payment facilities of $25. For students, it costs 150 dollars a year.
Why should people attend LAFS? and how much are tickets to LAFS?
Samantha: In the digital part: content, will contribute knowledge and learning. The added value of attending the event, in addition to the content, is all networking opportunities through all the activities planned, from morning to night there are activations for people to meet, exchange contacts and thus start a working relationship or even friendship. There are meals, there are parties, coffee breaks. You can meet someone from your own field, meet the leader of a certain company, the buyer you’ve always dreamed of meeting, the investor you’ve always wanted to talk to, and ask for feedback. The community that attends LAFS is very friendly, collaborative, people go to that. They are willing to help, to listen to you. Relationships in this life are absolutely everything.
This 2022 edition will be in hybrid format, there is 2 types of tickets:
The virtual: Attendees will enjoy the live broadcasts of the entire program, except the workshops, for a cost of 99 dollars. And face-to-face ticket costs $695 USD to the general public, and if you’re a Tribu member only $595 ($100 off). The face-to-face ticket includes lectures, panels, workshops, except the 2 themed parties that have an additional cost.
It should be noted that, although the content is basically in English, due to the profile of international speakers we have, we will have simultaneous translation into Spanish.
Anything else you’d like to add?
Estefania and Samantha: Remind you that LAFS will take place in Miami, March 14-16, 2022, which is an investment to your enterprise, to your brand, to your person, even if you don’t have an enterprise. We have had for example other profiles as makeup artists, fashion photographers, it is an opportunity to reconnect, to make new contacts, it is an opportunity to expose you in an international market and at the same time as Latino as Miami. We strongly recommend that you go in person and if not, we see you in digital, hopefully, you can accompany us.
For more information on LAFS visit: