No Haterz Allowed

No Haterz Allowed

When I was a reckless poster and would blab on about things without really thinking about what I was saying, I think I may have pondered a little about chola girl style.  That's curious and naive me probing into a sub-culture that doesn't even vaguely figure into my daily life.  I got many responses from people, who liked to use shouty capital letters and no punctuation to enlighten me, along the lines of "Ya KEEP it up wit the cholita style. Fuck the haters. We be ridden' on some real shit."  That's me TOLD.  

Nearly six years down the line and Vogue Italia got in to a little bit of hot water with their "Haute Mess" editorial, photographed by Steven Meisel, that amplified and exaggerated certain chola and "ghetto" style traits and stereotypes, which then prompted chola-centric rebuttals and much internets commentary.  These are the sort of no-go social and cultural lines that Vogue Italia seem to cross on a regular basis, baiting the public to berate and comment on them.  

Is there any positive spin on chola within the fashion remit, without prompting angry arched (and I might add, thin) eyebrows and accusations of political incorrectness?  When I went to Mexico, I was told, that surface-only imitations of chola style were more prevalent than any actual genuine gang activity.  It reads to me like a strange counterculture.  Like punks today without any of the political motivation.  Like people who borrow style traits from teddy boys/girls, mods and punks but discarding the political and cultural context of those tribes.     

Therefore it was interesting to come across a designer who managed to reference chola style without going in for any derogatory dig and recontextualising the subculture to the point, where it might even be undetectable to cholo girls themselves.  Roberto Sanchez is going it alone as a solo designer and his S/S 12 collection was an interesting insight into his vision away from TEAMO, the brand that he alongside his former design partner Rafa Cuevas became well known for.  It's a far more brutal and personal aesthetic that Sanchez is going for and it seems cathartic for him, after doing collections that came with commercial restraints for TEAMO.  I dove right into his S/S 12 collection but completely missed out on his rooted A/W 11-2 collection, which was really dedicated to his love of Mexico and included in that are cholo references, such as the interlinked tattoo and graffiti culture in Mexico, and the attitude of cholo girls.  Yet when these motifs are placed on stark white shirting with voluminous poet's sleeves and long white skirts, contrasting leather and cotton, Sanchez distills his perspective of Mexican cholo references into something quite beautiful and displaced.  The black eyeliner and drawn in brows becomes inky black jumpsuits and demure floor length dresses.  Any hint of aggression is removed and instead, Sanchez celebrates Mexican street culture with a purist eye.


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(Roberto Sanchez shirt worn with Him and Her headband, Christopher Kane skirt, Nike Lunar Hyperworkout trainers)

Likewise for his latest A/W 12-3 collection he turns to the white shirting as a foundation for his interpretation of Mexico City downtown style.  The slightly cheesy car-brand printed jumpsuit to me feels like the Mexican version of designers such as Christopher Shannon in London, who play off chav culture and their associated style imagery.  The simultaneous celebration and derision of chav culture in the UK can definitely be similarly compared to the mainstream adoption of chola style (seen by the likes of Gwen Stefani and Fergie).  They're both immediately outward facing cultures that are based on aestethics more than assessing character or actions.  Sanchez takes what he has seen and what he innately knows about Mexican gang culture and cleverly works that into his collections so that they're free from stereotyping.  Something that shock-tactic, pageview-driving editorials could learn from.  

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Leave a comment

    2012-07-10 at 11:10 AM

    The absence of political or social motives has to be compensated by a different slant on the question, otherwise I feel it always falls into stereotype and actually damages the original movement..just like the punk movement has been limited to a “camden look” in general consciousness. As ever, a clever approach is necessary, like here!

  2. susie_bubble

    2012-07-10 at 11:26 AM

    Exactly… it’s difficult to come out and say you’re paying homage to these style stereotypes and in the case of the haute mess article, the subjects hardly came off looking like positive spins on ghetto/chola culture. Likewise, there’s clearly never any political/social motives in the realm of fashion so when referencing sub-cultures or cultures that still raise sensitive issues, there’s got to be a way of doing it so that you’re not seen to be exploiting their aesthetics or ridiculing their habits.
    Roberto Sanchez isn’t a casual observer of chola culture as he grew up with it. I think his collections make reference without creating any terrible pastiches… but it’s a difficult thing to be able to do.

  3. Serdane

    2012-07-10 at 11:32 AM

    Nice outfits mixing jewelry. So original !

  4. Elisa Eymery

    2012-07-10 at 12:06 PM

    Loving these urban roses, and beautiful touch of neon brought by the headband. A refreshing outfit.

  5. Kingdom Of Style

    2012-07-10 at 1:35 PM

    I always thought a Chola was a girl gang member? I didn’t realise it was something cultural.

  6. susie_bubble

    2012-07-10 at 1:38 PM

    I suppose when I say culture, I mean the attached lifestyle and outward aesthetics of a girl gang member. Culture as a word can be applied in the anthropological sense – “the distinct ways that people living in different parts of the world classified and represented their experiences” A chola/cholo would have a distinct “culture” in that sense.

  7. Thefashionguitar

    2012-07-10 at 2:08 PM

    I am a huge fan of your styling with Nike trainers! This I love a lot 🙂

  8. Cassandra

    2012-07-10 at 2:28 PM

    The outfits are amazing!
    backtofive.blogspot.combacktofive.blogspot.combacktofive’s twitter

  9. Adeola Naomi

    2012-07-10 at 3:30 PM


  10. The PvdH Journal

    2012-07-10 at 5:07 PM

    While ‘chola’ generally refers to mexican/american culture (which I do not know much about aside from what you see in the media), having grown up in Mexico (and currently living here once gain after 10 years in the UK), I do think that there is a much more cultural reference to a lot of the styles seen in downtown Mexico City and that it is simply not just about trends.
    If you go to ‘El Mercado del Chopo’ (a type of punk market) you can actually observe the subcultures at play and how they have adapted the punk style and added their own twist (not like the empty shell which Camden has become). But it is not just style, but a way of life.
    ps. I think you have done a great job at showing some of the cultural style of Mexico (particularly enjoyed you wearing a traditional huipil… when I used to wear mine in London I got loads of comments from friends!)
    xx Paola

  11. welovefur

    2012-07-10 at 5:20 PM

    I love it so much

  12. diego

    2012-07-10 at 5:38 PM

    Roberto is by far the best Mexican designer today

  13. Kady Heron

    2012-07-12 at 10:21 PM

    Very fashionable and stylish..
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