Puerto Rico, a country of natural beauty and Kula, the most beautiful free-spirited fashion brand.
Puerto Rico, an island of natural beauty, white sandy beaches and crystal clear water. However, Puerto Rico is home to some beautiful fashion brands and today’s feature luckily showcases one of these up and coming brands. Kula by Stephanie Fuentes. The brand uses ethically sourced materials and is all handmade in the tranquil island of Puerto Rico.
Over to Stephanie…
Your brand screams free spirited, where do get your inspiration?
Yes. Since I was a little girl, I grew up as a free spirited wild child. I used to spend my time climbing trees, taking care of my pets (chickens, dog, bunny, and geese), swimming in waterfalls and the beach, and fishing. I loved to be barefoot in the forest connecting the souls of my feet to the earth. When I turned 15 my connection with nature became stronger, I started to practice surfing. That connection with the ocean made me crave more freedom, it made me appreciate mother earth even more. I am also very passionate about traveling and meet other cultures, and people. Generally, my inspiration comes from the vastness of mother nature, different cultures and vintage fashion. But mostly, I have to say that I get very inspired by people who follow their hearts, their dreams, people who know their worth, and people whose life is not defined by the rules of society, specially empowered woman.
Each piece you create is so effortless, what is your favourite piece in your collection?
Thanks. Each final piece is unique, and it has gone thru a long process. I am very perfectionist so that is reflected in the final outcome of every piece. When designing I think about a lot of pros and cons, especially if it feels comfortable. Here the word “freedom” takes its part again. I don’t like clothing that is uncomfortable, that doesn’t make me feel free, or that is too tight.
That’s why most of my designs have a loose fit. Also, I live in a tropical island (Puerto Rico) and the weather here is very hot, so I think a lot about my clothing being fresh and comfy. Right now it is hard to decide which one is my favourite, but I really love the “French Top” (which will be restocked soon) for its vintage style, and the Kula shorts, since I love those kind of shorts to be around on summer days.
Do you think Puerto Rico is a hidden gem for fashion?
It certainly is! We are a very small island in the middle of the Caribbean, and not too many people know about our existence. We might be recognised for sure for the reggaeton music (which is not my favourite lol), Ricky Martin and JLo?! But yes, we definitely have a looooot of talented people and artists, not only in fashion but many other areas such as actors, musicians, jewellery makers, scientists, etc.
What are they current fashion trends of Puerto Rico?
I have to be honest, I really don’t follow a specific fashion trend going on at the moment, I never had. I just follow my heart. I used to work for years at clothing stores in malls and people would usually follow what those brands were bringing at the moment. What I can say is that lately here I’ve seen a lot of movement of people supporting local brands, small business, second hand, and business with an eco friendly practice, which for me is something very exciting.
Any Puerto Rican’s you get inspiration from?
I get inspired a lot by Puerto Rican woman from the country side of the island where I come from, specially our mothers and grandmothers, who are always giving even when they do not have much to give, for being so caring, and for keep our culture alive.
Where did the inspiration to start your brand come from?
My interest on fashion design started when I was a kid, I used to be looking to fashion magazines, and collecting pictures from the red carpets of outfits I liked. I created a binder that I still have with all the pictures. It wasn’t till I started my professional career working for the government (I am also a Plant Pathologist) that I had enough money to pay for my studies on fashion design, this was just 3 years ago. I was working full time and studying my passion on the weekends, till I graduated last year before the pandemic started. My inspiration on making my dream happen during these tough times was to make an impact on the fashion world, by making a sustainable brand. This has been very uphill, living in an island where almost everything needs to be imported, specially these types of fabrics. But here I am little by little making it happen.