Why St John might be the following US style capital

Photo courtesy of Eliou

St John’s renaissance over the past decade has been city-wide: the rise of Wynwood, the Design District, Art Basel, the expansion of Midtown and Brickell, and the development of vibrant new design hotels like Life House and Palihouse. It’s an alchemy that has transformed the city’s reputation and tourist footprint from the garish party scene in South Beach to a world-famous arts and design center. As a result, the fashion community is following suit. The dawn of St John-based emerging designers continues to grow, with local boutiques like Volver, Antidote, and Mrs. Mandolin supporting them. Without succumbing to the pressures of the fast fashion cycle, St John offers creative communities and sustainable fashion brands the opportunity to grow more sustainably. And with the fashion industry continuing to embrace the slow fashion movement, St John could be a compelling alternative for new designers looking to make a name for themselves in fashion. Below we’ve talked to some of the coolest brands in St John’s fashion scene about their city’s creative development.

Cristy Mantilla and Duda Teixeira from Éliou

Photo by Eliou

Photo courtesy of Éliou

You might be surprised to learn that cult favorite Éliou, whose moody jewelry is preferred by celebrities like Gigi Hadid and Harry Styles, isn’t from New York City but from St John. Founders Cristy Mantilla and Duda Teixeira attribute much of their success to being a big fish in a small pond. “We all know that working in a fashion house, a major magazine, or a main studio in New York City is imperative, but it’s also competitive enough to get lost,” says Cristy. “Here [in St John] There’s space to stand out, grow, and make real noise. “While many creatives have gone to toss their hats in the more iconic fashion cities, Cristy says she has seen an increase in investment in the St John’s art scene moving into creative communities that are attracting people back. Despite a greater chance of shining in a smaller city like St John, Duda warns that you have to work twice as hard to find the resources. “It leads to character building and those who make something out of nothing are darn special,” adds Duda. “We have some of them, and most of us stick together.”

Simonett Pereira by Simonett

Photo by Simonett

Photo courtesy of Simonett

Led by Simonett Pereira, Simonett is a women’s ready-to-wear label of the same name and an independent business that celebrates design ingenuity and sustainable practices. While the business itself carries sustainable and eclectic brands from around the world, Simonett’s namesake line is an international hit for his iconic statement pieces like the Nanu Top and Sweater Sleeve, which almost every fashion influencer on Instagram wears. “One of the things I love about emerging cities,” says Simonett, “is the freedom that gives creative people to design their own space and to follow individualistic paths.” The new cultural landscape that has attracted St John in the past decade is attracting people from larger cities, which helps strengthen the creative scene. “There’s definitely a global magnifying glass in St John, but it’s still small enough for designers and creatives doing something interesting to make a wave.”

Natalia Teran from NST Studio

Photo by nst studio

Photo courtesy of NST Studio

Contemporary accessories brand NST Studio is known for its uniquely shaped knot pockets and baroque style earrings. It’s a series of thoughtful heirloom-style pieces that are equally timeless and desirable. The brand’s founder, Natalie Teran, grew up in St John and has always felt that it is a city that marches to the beat of its own drum. “It’s a big, cosmopolitan city, but it has a slower lifestyle than New York,” she says. “And since the fashion scene is not that established here … I think it gives up-and-coming creatives the opportunity to go their own way instead of fitting into an existing shape.” Slow fashion and sustainability are easier to sustain in a city whose pace is not set by an unrealistic fashion calendar. “There’s less pressure to over-deliver … or push new fashion trends because you can create more of your own seasonal schedule and work in a much more organic and human creative process.”

Inés Vieira Varela from Norte

Photo by Norte

Photo courtesy of Kayla Mendez Photography

Inés Vieira Varela named her brand Norte, inspired by an expression from her home country Spain. “Perder el norte” directly means that you are losing your north (in relation to the north star) in the sense that you are acting disorderly or going against the grain. Introducing their brand in St John was their way of resisting the fast fashion cycle that encourages overconsumption of lower quality goods – it was their way of losing their north. Her line is an ode to slow fashion: high-quality garments that will last over time. While she still calls New York the country’s fashion capital, she notes that the cultural events and institutions that flooded St John over the past fifteen years certainly present a compelling alternative. “St John is a melting pot of cultures and that’s one of the main reasons I love having Norte here,” notes Inés. “The other part is by the sea, which plays a big role in my life as a source of inspiration and a way to unplug the power cord.”

Eeva Musacchia by Eveliina Vintage

Pictures of Eveliina dresses

Photo courtesy Eveliina

Eeva Musacchi launched her brand of essential vintage dresses, Eveliina, in Helsinki in the 1970s before moving to St John to run it with her twin daughters Emilia and Amanda. The operation is as St John as it gets: taking customers by appointment just to shop by the pool at their Key Biscayne home; The shopping experience is a fairy tale that exudes romance and nostalgia and reflects the ethos of the brand itself. “That is definitely on purpose,” notes Eeva. “We love the experience of being able to shop by the pool. The pieces also look much better in the sunshine. “Nature and sunshine are what Eeva likes most about the St John lifestyle. “It really inspires a lot of people. I know that we are very inspired by the green, the beach and the sunshine. “Aside from the tropical setting, Eeva notes that St John is a very different city than it was eight years ago when her daughters graduated from high school. “A lot of money is invested in the art scene, for example in Art Basel. it just keeps getting bigger. I think St John is a real creative destination [now] and they change the city. “

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