Recycling and upcycling have long been popular in Cuba, as resources are limited in the politically and geographically isolated island nation. Artists without access to new materials get creative with what they have on hand. The designers and artists of Cuba’s first independent, sustainable fashion brand, Clandestina, use their modern sensibilities to create innovative recycled fashions full of effortless cool.
Clandestina embraces cultural handcrafts practices to pay homage to core values of Cuban society in creating their limited-production collections. Their products, including bucket hats, make up bags, totes, and shorts are always on trend and highlight local statements inspired in the spirit of Cubans, their humor, resilience, independence, and determination to find solutions in challenges. All their creations are made in house from recycled sugar, bean, rice, and postal service bags, as well as material from second-hand clothing. Screen printing is central to their messaging. The brand’s bestsellers are embellished with phrases like, “Drama is over,” “99% Cuban design,” and “Nothing is perfect.”
Clandestina is committed to “showing our young folk, and people all over the world, that our traditions can also evolve as we do with time–so they don’t have to be lost with the passage of generations.” The collective’s style and ethos attract young people. “We always welcome any young folks who want to join the guild,” they say. The brand shares its members’ passion for design through workshops, social service training, and popular events like ‘Give me your t-shirt,’ where members take to the streets to print art on t-shirts for free. Additionally, Clandestina launched a program, “Reciclada Exchange,” to promote the recycling and recovery of secondhand clothes.