Common Thread

A look into the future of fashion that is conscious and kind.

By: Monica Valenzuela

Photography by: Gabrielle K. Aguilar

Model: Emily Cannis

Natalie Arribeno is a Los Angeles native whose culture and compassion is vividly woven into her new clothing line, Nubia Natalie. Her pieces illustrate the art and lives of the Huichol people from Mexico’s Sierra Madre mountains. Natalie’s goal for eco-friendly active wear stems from her appreciation for indigenous communities and an opportunity to educate consumers.

“I think it is possible to integrate culture and consumerism in a healthy way.” Natalie says, “That’s why I created this brand. Having a background in fashion, from my perspective, I realized how important it is to re-enforce eco-friendly fashion, because fashion is the second largest polluter in the world. I didn’t want to contribute to that so I made sure that the clothes I made were going to add value to the consumer, and not take away from the planet.” Each item available on Nubia Natalie’s website is made from 100% recycled material (REPREVE fiber made from 86% recycled bottles and recycled polyester 14%). Natalie’s awareness towards the environment sheds light on the affect that it could have on indigenous communities as well. “The relationship I have with The Huichol Center is so important to me. Keeping their culture alive and protected is one of Nubia Natalie’s main goals. Indigenous communities are often shut out of society because they can longer keep up with technology or they are unable to adapt to it. I know everything is connected and connecting with this community creates a harmony that I want to actively preserve and uphold. Working with The Huichol Center has given me the opportunity to champion these women artists while also supporting them.”

Emily’s bottoms are the SUSANA LEGGING PANT - SPIRITUAL MIRROR $88.00 now available at  nubianatalie.co

Emily’s bottoms are the SUSANA LEGGING PANT - SPIRITUAL MIRROR $88.00 now available at nubianatalie.co

Looking at the pieces of clothing, you can see the intricacies of the patterns. The long heritage of the Huichol women are present in every stitch and tell the stories of the past and present. Natalie describes why keeping their culture alive is vital. “Traditionally, The Huichol would tell stories through their art. The patterns they have created are all significant. Every line and every dot. When starting off with the designs, I knew I wanted each piece to have a story along with it. That’s why I named each piece after someone who was really special to me. The sports bra is named after my Mother, Lupita: she was supportive, caring, and even though she is no longer with us, I knew I would always want to have her close to my heart.” The biggest thing we carry in our culture, specifically in Mexican and Latino cultures, are the stories passed down from generation to generation. Keeping them close to us; keeps us close to our roots.

Very early on, Natalie knew her purpose was to create a brand that would challenge the fashion industry. The wave of the socially conscious has newer generations asking brands, Where does this come from? Who made this? What’s it made out of? But the biggest question for people who are active is, Will this last?

“I want to build the client’s closet,” Natalie mentions when referring to the current items she has available. “Right now we are working on what I like to call the 2.0 version. We are working on new things that will go along with what we already have. We are not following a natural fashion cadence. Brands usually do Spring/Summer and Fall/Winter. Releasing new items every fashion season would be overwhelming. I always look from the client’s perspective. I want to add to what they already have by giving them the opportunity to make a choice based on their budget and lifestyle.”

When it comes to purchasing clothes, fit is always the deciding factor. Leggings are a staple in any closet. They can be worn in a yoga class or worn around the house. Comfort and durability are the key component in any active wear brand. “The function of each garment was inspired by yoga. I’ve been practicing yoga for years and I knew the troubles that went along with active wear. My leggings and shorts are high waisted on purpose. So my fellow curvacious Latinas can feel comfortable when bending over. They can feel supported in any direction.”

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Overall, looking at all the moving parts of Nubia Natalie, it’s hard to think that there should be any other way to make clothes. From an in-depth perspective, it seems Nubia Natalie has it all. Asking Natalie where she sees the brand a few years from now, her response is realistic. “Since we launched in September of 2018, I’ve received positive feedback and a steady order intake. But in a social media world where entrepreneurship can be romanticized, there can be times where I tend to get lost in where the brand should be. But no matter what, I remind myself that my hustle is worth it. I know if I keep working hard I will get to where I need to be. I’m a spiritual person, I believe what you put out in the world you receive back. I make sure to do everything with intention.”

Nubia Natalie will be heading back to the Huichol Center this summer to provide book bags and supplies for the children of the community. For more information about the Huichol center visit www.thehuicholcenter.org and to look at Nubia Natalies active wear line, visit their website at www.nubianatalie.co

Monica Valenzuela