A Conversation with Vanessa Acosta of Wasi Clothing
photography / travel story
November 22nd, 2017
Fashion Designer and Photographer Vanessa Acosta, also known as "From a Bolivian," has garnered attention for her colorful, handmade label Wasi Clothing.
Vanessa recently traveled to South America to work with Bolivian makers for materials from which she designs her one of a kind pieces. She shares her experiences and some insight into Bolivian American identity - Follow her on Instagram for her most recent work.
Hello readers, I am Vanessa Acosta, the Bolivian-American Photographer and Designer behind Wasi Clothing clothing brand. While my photography brand consists of photographing women of all colors and backgrounds, my clothing brand focuses on highlighting Bolivian textiles with modernity.
My focus on bringing more light to Bolivian culture started a couple years ago but it wasn't until the fall of 2016 that made me realize my true calling as a Fashion Designer. For the past year, I have used my photography and design skills to mesh the modern aspect of fashion and the traditional, indigenous ways of the Bolivian people to make a brand for all to wear and appreciate.
I create modern fits in limited quantity because of the quality, authenticity and cost of materials. I have the luxury of traveling the world to ethically source; the most recent sourcing trip was taken in August of this year. I ventured to South America for an entire month to document the land and my ancestors while working with Bolivian makers on materials for my one-of-a-kind designs.
Before I dove into this brown-owned business, I had to check myself. I had to be sure I was doing it the right way.
Ethics and social consciousness are important to always keep in mind when getting into a business venture in fashion. I grew up in a very Bolivian, traditional home and my parents did not fall short on raising us with their traditions. As a child, I traveled to Bolivia every other year, so I was always close to my roots. I was never ashamed of my culture but I had not fully embraced it until recently. I am very blessed and thankful for that upbringing because I feel confident to be doing what I am doing.
This trip was a learning experience but that learning process will always continue as I evolve and grow into my brand.
It was important to me, prior to my trip back to Bolivia, to gain the approval of my family, I needed to know that they were on board with this journey. I have the support of my immediate family here in the states but my Quechaun Grandmother and other relatives don't have a lot of access to see what I have been working with.
It is important to be conscious of the older generations when you are mixing their culture into your own modernized ideas. I strive to keep the culture intact but mix it with my modern perspective, so it was a relief to receive a unanimous praise from my family members in South America.
It was important to them that a Bolivian blooded gal was doing these designs and not a white woman sourcing materials and jacking up the prices in the United States. It brought me joy to have my family's approval for Wasi Clothing and the work I have created.
I came back to LA with a refreshed look at my creative work after my life changing trip through Bolivia, Peru and Argentina. Since my photography work and designs mesh well together, I took those two aspects and began to create. I had gathered enough materials and photographic documentation from my trip to create a whole new series of creative launches. The first installment was of my new websites which was accompanied by a new fall collection and look book using all Bolivian sourced textiles. I plan to create more projects like this that explore my history and identity. It's a long to-do list as I embrace and learn more about my roots, but I'll keep at it and keep planting the seeds for them to grow.
We are a new generation of Latinx individuals who are trying to find their voice and purpose in this modern age while still respecting and keeping intact the ways of our ancestors. I praise all the other creatives out there who have found their niche in this because it is truly hard. I shall continue to create as well, so stay tund for future projects!
© Vanessa Acosta 2018