Luis Aponte is a Miami based clothing line specializing in menswear and women swear apparel created by Founder Luis Aponte and Co-founder Melida Sanchez. Melida is from New York, Aponte from Puerto Rico, both graduated from Miami International University of Art and Design. The Luis Aponte line launched in February 2014 during the Mercedes Benz New York Fashion Week with a mini collection of 6 six interchangeable pieces. Aponte was selected as Peroni’s Emerging Designer in 2015, designed a collection for Miami Swim Week in 2016, presented designs at Fort Lauderdale Fashion Week and was handpicked by Macy’s to be part of The Market at Macy’s in Fort Lauderdale and in Atlanta respectively in 2019.
When did you first realize you wanted to pursue a career as a designer?
Growing up I was talented, however so are many of my family members, therefore I never thought of my talent as something special. I pursued my undergraduate degree in biomedical sciences where I decided to follow the family business and I was accepted into graduate school to do my Pharmaceutical Doctorate. It was during my second year in Pharmacy School, after watching a whole season of “Project Runway,” that everything changed for me. I felt compelled to sew myself some clothing, and that’s when I felt I found my true calling. My path veered as I decided to change careers and follow my instinct to become the apprentice of Mara Garcia, a local designer back in Puerto Rico who welcomed me into her atelier and taught me about pattern making/construction. In 2012 I moved to Miami and finished my Bachelor’s Degree in Fashion Design.
What role do you think social media plays in fashion today?
Social media provides a great platform to advertise products by facilitating sales and allowing us to reach a broader audience. I still remember the first time I had someone walk into my store because she had followed me since the beginning and wanted to meet me in person. The feeling of appreciation from someone who admires my work is gratifying. This experience exposes the power of social media and how we connect with others through it.
What made you want to expand your business from designing women’s clothing to men’s wear?
I started making some pieces for myself and people would stop me on the street to ask me what designer I was wearing. I quickly realized there was a niche in the market for my designs and began to work on the sizing scale. Our menswear line is based on the Miami vibe as we use locally sourced fabrics and create our own prints.
How would you define the Luis Aponte man?
The Luis Aponte man is not afraid of making a statement and being complimented. He is a tropical man looking for comfort yet fashionable pieces. Our materials are breathable and soft, perfect for our tropical weather.
Can you describe your line’s aesthetic?
The aesthetic of the line is very playful with design details. We love integrating fun prints and textures into the collections. We implement sustainability by the printing process we use and source organic materials for production. We are a local company and we produce everything in house in our micro factory based in Miami.
Do you have a routine for your creative process, and what inspires you?
I always like to center my thoughts around an idea, like for example a movie or a place. Melida researches the trends and colors for the season to compliment my idea. The idea evolves into sketches, we proceed to mix and match the ideas until we have a cohesive story to tell. Every collection tells a story which is depicted by the prints, design elements, color scheme, fabric, to the final pictures and the feeling the collection evokes.
What is your favorite part about being a designer?
I love making patterns and sewing however I enjoy the creative process of design as well.
What was your biggest challenge when going out and starting your own line?
My biggest challenge was to be a new name in the industry. We heard a lot of “No” going from door to door selling our product. I remember when we finally heard the first “yes” which made everything worth it.
What continues to drive you?
During the past few years I discovered the joy fashion brings me goes beyond just making beautiful pieces. I found a beautiful connection between my talent and the privilege of creating jobs. It is soulfully rewarding knowing that people can bring food to their tables by believing in my creativity.
Who is your dream person/celebrity/public figure you’d love to design for, and why?
I would love to dress Ricky Martin. Growing up in Puerto Rico he has always been an icon that has brought glory and pride to our Island. As a gay man he has been a pioneer in our community and has paved the way for many of us.
What is next for Luis Aponte?
We would like to bring Luis Aponte to other locations, encourage the “made in Miami” movement and continue with our concept of affordable couture. Our goal is to promote sustainable fashion for men and women.
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