Indigenous ‘Chola’ Clothing Comes to Fashion Week
A Bolivian fashion designer explains why she wants to shine an international spotlight on her culture.
In Bolivia’s capital city La Paz, indigenous women known as cholas have long been stigmatized for wearing their traditional clothes: bowler hats, handmade macramé shawls, tailored blouses, layered pollera skirts, and lots of elaborate jewelry.
But for the past 11 years, fashion designer Eliana Paco Paredes has been chipping away at that stigma with her line of chola clothing—which she debuted at New York City’s Fashion Week last week. That’s a big deal for a type of clothing that has historically been disparaged in Bolivia because it was worn by poor, indigenous women. For a long time, many indigenous women couldn’t wear chola clothing in certain professions.
Bringing indigenous designs to New York is a huge step for Paco