The Colombian born Claudia Gontovnik studied fashion design and sociology and she calls on both disciplines to create her unique one-of-a-kind clothing. After years of being the creator of a successful label, boutique owner, stylist, costume designer and editor of an online fashion magazine, she decided to express her creative intent and social responsibility by giving new life to items that previously had none. In this way, she explains, she helps reduce waste and the feeding of toxic chemicals into our environment. In other words, to inspire a sustainable way to be stylish.
She takes vintage clothes and repurposes them, creating new fashion pieces – jeans, t shirts, jean jackets, and jumpsuits. She cuts out pieces of a vintage garment and pins them on her creative wall, which looks like it could be a contemporary art installation. She then designs based on those pieces, with careful intent, in what can be a process taking anywhere from one week to a few months.
The pieces are pinned to the garment and then, along with a drawing with detailed instructions, shipped to single mothers in Colombia who hand-embroider each piece into place. The color of the thread and the embroidery are an integral part of the design. The result is a total fashion statement – bold, different, colorful, and fun. Heads are sure to turn when you wear one of her pieces.
Jackets range from $395 to $695; jeans from $295 to $595; t shirts $195 to $295; and jumpsuits (my favorite) from $695. Her shop and atelier are in a creative work space called Made in the Citadel in Little River, 8325 NE 2 Ave Suite #204 Phone 305.244.0159. Her instagram is @claudiagontovnik.
I’m so excited to introduce you today Miami-based Colombian Fashion Designer, Claudia Gontovnik, and her upcycled clothing line just after Earth Day. I met her at a pop-up in Hibiscus Island around three weeks ago, and we instantly connect, first because I loved her designs and, second because she’s a smart midlife woman who reinvented herself in her fifties. Claudia studied Fashion Design and Sociology, so she has always cared for doing something that could positively make an impact to a better world. In her own words:
I took a break after years of being a stylist, a costume designer in Colombia, the creator of a successful label, and the editor of my own online fashion magazine in the US. I needed time to think about my priorities.
The conclusion of that reflection was that I needed to express my creative intent and social responsibility through giving new life to items that previously had one. And that is what I do now.
WHY DO I SAY THAT CLAUDIA REINVENTED HERSELF?
Because she did! She had quite a successful fashion label with four boutiques in Colombia and, also exported to other countries. Claudia and her family moved to the US a while ago, and she started a successful online fashion magazine, that consumed most of her time, so she decided to quit and, have more time for herself and family. As a professional woman who worked all her life, she couldn’t simply stay at home and do nothing. That is why she started a new sustainable fashion line, made from garments found at consignment and second-hand thrift shops. She designs on paper how each piece of clothing has to be and then sends them to Colombia where single mom artisans from underserved communities, embroider and sew all the pieces Claudia carefully placed with pins.
CLAUDIA WORKS WITH A COMMUNITY OF COLOMBIAN ARTISANS AND SHE GIVES EACH OF THEM CREDIT FOR EMBROIDERING HER DESIGNS
I was really moved by the fact that you see a label that tells you the name of the Colombian artisan who embroidered the clothing piece you’re buying. Because, you can imagine that single mom whose hands contributed to making you look great, and received a fair payment from Claudia. That Elisa, or Ana or Elena, can have a better and fulfilled life and, also raise her children well. Don’t you think it is rewarding to know that the jacket or jumpsuit or t-shirt you buy from Claudia is contributing to open new horizons to people who otherwise wouldn’t have the opportunities they have? Thanks to sustainable initiatives such as Claudia’s, young Colombians have a future.
EACH OF HER CLOTHES ALSO HAS AN EMPOWERING MESSAGE TO WOMEN
I love the fact, that in each of Claudia’s garment there’s an empowering message because we women have been neglected for too much time. We need to be aware of how strong and powerful we are, how precious what we do is, and, there’s no limit to achieving what we want. Claudia is a great example of how the wisdom and experience that comes with age, can be a fantastic fuel to reinvent ourselves at any age and do it with style.
AND HERE COMES THE FUN PART OF THE STORY
We both were born in the same year and, the same month, with only 4 days of difference, in 1958. We’re both Sagittarians, her birthday is on December 8th and mine is the 12th. She’s from Barranquilla, Colombia, and I’m from Caracas, Venezuela, two neighbor countries with many things in common.
We both live in Miami and, when we go to fashion pop-ups or events, we never see other midlife bloggers or Instagramers, so we were both grateful to met each other.
I enjoyed every minute of this photo shoot because we were able to talk and started a new friendship. A week later, I paid another visit to Claudia’s studio with another great midlife woman and Miami Lifestyle Blogger, Karen Escalera, who is also a Sagittarian and we had a great afternoon together.