RICARDO SECO At New York Fashion Week Powered By Art Hearts Fashion NYFW at The Angel Orensanz Foundation on February 8, 2019 in New York City.
Photo by Arun Nevader
Resist/Resiste by Ricardo Seco
Tepito is a rectangle. Tepito is a neighborhood. Tepito is its own universe. The collection by the New York-based Mexican fashion designer Ricardo Seco Resist/Resiste is centered around the Mexico City neighborhood of Tepito. Tepito is an iconic neighborhood that brings to mind violence, illegality, and informality, an area riddled by crime and drug addiction. However, it is also has a centuries-long history. Since before Europeans set foot in America, Tepito has been a center of commerce, creativity, and color. Because of its contradicting characteristics, Tepito plays a peculiar but very important role in the identity of Mexico City. Additionally, the cultural significance of Tepito has been studied by academics and has inspired artists from Mexico and around the world.
In Tepito you can find boxeadores (boxers), luchadores (wrestlers), cabronas (tough women), gardenias (trans women from Tepito). They are all brave, authentic, strong. As the Mexican saying
goes, Tepito exists because it resists (Tepito existe porque resiste). Conversely, Tepito a commercial quarter since Pre-Columbian times, has in recent times become an epicenter of black market, illegal reproductions, and of informal trade. All this overshadows all that Tepito has to offer. It is in these contradictions that Ricardo Seco found inspiration for Resist/Resiste.
Tepito as a center of commerce
For this collection, Ricardo Seco is disrupting the idea of Tepito as a knock-off center. Tepito’s business people are experts in distributing and retailing illegal copies of fashion items with extraordinary success. The products sold in Tepito are affordable and have mass appeal but escape the established fashion system. This collection will turn this knock-off cycle upside down. Instead of being a casualty of the system of illegal retail, Ricardo Seco will distribute and retail the most reproduceable garments of Resist/Resiste (t-shirts and sweatshirts) in establishments that would normally sell illegal copies of his work. Tepito will need not sell knock-offs of Ricardo Seco, because Tepito and its millions of consumers will have direct access to the original products at affordable prices. Seco is thus shifting a conversation about the neighborhood from illegality, and instead highlighting its merchants’ business prowess.
Ricardo Seco wants to change the negative views about Tepito by creating an original product produced and merchandized in this neighborhood. He wants to open the eyes of other designers so they can see the possibilities that lie in this neighborhood and create synergies with local businesses to turn it into a unique and original fashion quarter that serves the neighborhood and its clientele.
Tepito’s social fabric
Teptio has been able to preserve its own identity, which inclodes women who are empowered (the tepiteña is a matriarch). These are women who dare, who fight, who work, who are not afraid. They are remarkable and the most famous of them are known as Las Siete Cabronas (The Seven Badasses). Women in Tepito have a very important place. Since they are children they are empowered so they can grow up to become leaders, cabronas. For years, these women have been the backbone of the neighborhood. Ricardo Seco sees Cabronas as:
1. Hard-working woman
2. Empowered woman
3. Woman who never gives up
4. Fearless woman
5. Unyielding woman
6. Woman of women
Tepito residents constantly struggle to survive. They are continuously fighting, not only in life, but also in sports. Boxing and wrestling are endemic in Tepito. Additionally, Tepito is marginal, but
also accepting of diversity. Proof of that is the soccer team called the Gardenias de Tepito, formed in the 1960s with all team members being trans women. Because the inhabitants of Tepito can have strong personalities, because of the social challenges they have faced, and because they have resisted to preserve their identity, Tepito has been dubbed as the barrio bravo (brave hood).
The culture of Tepito
There are multiple cultural expressions that have originated in Tepito. Armando Ramírez’s novel Chin Chin el Teporocho took place in Tepito during the turbulent years of the 1968 student
protests. Visual artists have worked and found inspiration in the complexity of this neighborhood.The photographer Francisco Mata has visually documented the streets and people of Tepito and a
few of his images will be printed on t-shirts. Additionally, graffiti art by Justin Siobhan Rodriguez will be featured in various garments. Many of the Tepito residents are devoted to either San Judas Tadeo or the Santa Muerte. As in other aspects of the neighborhood, these faiths speak to the resilience of this society. San Judas Tadeo is a catholic saint that makes the impossible possible. The Santa Muerte, is a more complex cult figure that is seen as healing, protective in this world and in the after life. Fashion tribes such as the Tepichulos and Guapiteñas dress extraordinarily and are bound by their love of music and their devotion to the catholic saint San Judas Tadeo.
The Resist/Resiste collection features urban silhouettes with sportswear elements. The strength of women, the commercial stands, graffiti, and the gardenias are the main visual references. The palette of the collection mixes the colors found in Tepito’s commercial stands combined with black, the latter a nod to New York City. The materials in the collection refer to the materials used in Tepito today. For example, elements of commercial stands that have made their way into the collection include the canvass and the ropes used to set up the stands, as well as the signs to advertise products and prices which are printed on fabrics. Words, phrases, and ideas originated in Tepito will be emblazoned on T-shirts and sweatshirts. Other materials include leather, suede, cashmere, wool, cotton, lycra, satin, velvet, and corduroy.
At the heart of this collection is the idea that identity (whether individual or tribal) doesn’t allow
walls, only dreams, because as Mexicans we work and resist.