From inside Plano’s Neighborhood Goods last Thursday night, you would’ve never known the weather outside was dreary, chilly, and wet. Indoors, the innovative department store was warm, cheery, and bright, with loud fashions and even louder music played by a three-piece band.
Stylishly dressed partygoers sipped pink tequila cocktails and munched on beef empanadas with pineapple salsa, celebrating the opening of the store’s Latin American Edit pop-up. Guests clustered in the middle of Neighborhood Goods, poring over displays of intricately woven dresses, resort-style sets, and colorful, beachy bags while chatting with the designers who made them.
On display until May 2, the Latin American Edit features resort wear, women’s and children’s fashion, accessories, and tableware by eight up-and-coming designers from across Central and South America.
The two-month pop-up shop is the brainchild of Alejandra Bravo and Luisa Babarczy. Both are from Colombia but live in Houston. They love returning to South America to shop fashions and styles that aren’t available stateside. While traveling, they’d meet many talented designers who wanted “to be part of the American dream,” says Bravo, who left her oil-and-gas career to go into fashion several years ago. But she never thought she could shop those designers in the U.S. So, Bravo asked herself, “how do we become a bridge to Latin America?”
In June 2022, Bravo and Babarczy launched South to North, a studio that provides consulting, brand management, and marketing to Latin American brands in the U.S. Some designers don’t need their consulting though, Bravo says. Many have cult followings, like Pinkfilosofy in Colombia. All they need is a platform to get in front of American buyers.
Enter Neighborhood Goods.
Bravo first walked into the Austin location last fall. She had never heard of the store, which first opened in Legacy West in 2018 as way to shop direct-to-consumer brands in-person. “I was like, ‘What is this magical, beautiful world?’” she says. “‘I want to be part of this.’” She asked the manager there if they’d consider doing a popup with foreign brands. Neighborhood Goods had indeed grouped French brands together, “and I was like, ‘Perfect! What about Latin America?’”
The Neighborhood Goods team suggested Plano for the pop-up, because “Dallas is the fashion city of Texas,” Bravo says. North Texas shoppers appreciate colorful, well-crafted, and fashion-forward brands, says Mexico-based designer Paloma Van Den Akker.
Selecting the designers was difficult. “There is so much talent in Latin America,” Bravo says. They picked brands that were big players in the Latin American fashion market that could bring a different perspective to Dallas. They settled on eight designers from Mexico, Colombia, Venezuela, and Miami, “which is an extension of Latin America,” Bravo says, laughing.
For shoppers, she says, the pop-up is an opportunity to shop hard-to-find items, and, in a way, to experience Latin America through the store. “It’s just a different world that you’re submerging yourself in for a little bit,” she says. “[The fashion is] coming to visit, and then it goes back.”
For the brands, the pop-up is a way to get a foothold in the American market, which could then “catapult” them into the international markets, Bravo says.
Take Palma Canaria. Founded 2016 by mother-daughter duo Mónica Aebeláez and Juliana Quintero, the Colombian fashion brand has had success since it launched, says Quintero. People have responded to its statement-making handwoven silk dresses, tops, and skirts. “It’s something that you wear on a special occasion.”
The brand has sold pieces all over the world, but it’s been harder to break out in America and Europe. Over the years, Palma Canaria has landed some of its items in Everything But Water retailers and small hotel boutiques in Florida. But “Texas has always intrigued me,” Quintero says. “I’ve been very curious about your culture and what’s going on here fashion-wise.”
Similarly, the pop-up “was a no-brainer” for Sigal Cohen Wolkowiez. “I didn’t think about it twice,” she says. Born in Venezuela and now based in Miami, Cohen founded her eponymous fashion line, Sigal, in 2015. Her resort wear styles are inspired by Miami fashion, and Cohen designs the silhouettes and paints all the prints herself using watercolors.
Since she launched, Cohen says she’s had plenty of customers from Dallas, Houston, and Austin. “They all love prints,” she says. “They love color.” She was already planning on doing something in Texas when the opportunity with Neighborhood Goods came up. She’d heard of the store before, and liked how “they’re championing designers.”
The pop-up is a good way to get to know their growing customer base here, and for shoppers to get to know them, the designers say. Plus, it’s easier to make the leap to the U.S. with the other brands alongside them. “Doing things alone is scary,” Quintero says. “But we’re here as a group.”
It’s also a way to gauge interest in future opportunities, Cohen says. She’d love to keep working with Neighborhood Goods, and she’s open to a more permanent Texas presence. “Who knows?” Cohen says. “Maybe I can open here in the future. I mean, I think that the market is ready for it.”
Quintero’s goal is simple. Like Bravo and Babarczy, she wants to people to better appreciate South American design. And, of course, “for people to fall in love with our line.”
Scroll through the gallery to see all eight brands participating in the Latin American Edit.