Cover Photo: Alessandra Perez-Rubio

Mestiza New York celebrates more than just womanly silhouettes. As co-founder, Alessandra Perez-Rubio, shares, this Manhattan-based fashion brand also celebrates something much closer to home.

The lively boroughs of New York come alive with the spirit of a million different ideologies. Known as an international hub for creativity and innovation, New York brings the best of people from all over the world; Alessandra Perez-Rubio is one of them. Along with co-founder Louisa Rechter, this fashion designer and entrepreneur has brought something new yet familiar to the table. Her brand, Mestiza New York, has made (and continues to create) an indelible mark in the cutthroat world of fashion on the East Coast. 

But for all the glitz and glamour that comes with founding a startup in Manhattan, Mestiza NY offers its clientele something comfortably familiar — at least to most of us here in the Philippines. You see, their style intersperses modern design tactics with uniquely Filipino elements. A celebration of culture and nostalgia, Mestiza NY embodies the tropical panache that our islands are so famous for. "My Filipino heritage is certainly one of the things that has had a profound influence on my life, and something I am incredibly proud to represent," Alessandra shares. "Unique to our brand are couture-like elements, inspired by my Filipino heritage, that stand out through bold print and architectural silhouettes."  

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Alessandra herself, who hails from Manila, has been open about her sources of inspiration: her very own mother and grandmother. "When designing I always look at vintage photographs of my mother and my grandmothers in the Philippines in the 1960s and 1970s, taking bits and pieces of Filipino inspired style and modernising them for our contemporary customer," she says. And while the sartorial culture is immeasurably different in New York than it is in the Philippines, Alessandra claims that it's this uniqueness that keeps her clients loyal and steadfast. "I find that our customers connect with the uniqueness of these stylistic elements whether it is the butterfly sleeves, the sheer structured fabrics or intricate embroideries. After six years we find that our following expects this from the collection and it is one of the many reasons our customer continues to support our brand." 

It is perhaps this personal touch that resonates with Mestiza's ladies. The brand itself has a rich history of stylish women from which to draw inspiration from — and if that's not an advantage, then I don't know what is. But of course, innovative brands can't rely solely on motivations from the past, not in the Big Apple. 

While Mestiza draws inspiration from local beauties, their founding story resonates with a global dilemma, something many women experience. Over cocktails one night, Alessandra and Louisa bemoaned the city's lack of beautifully made yet reasonably priced dresses. "Being girls with expensive taste and tight budgets, we complained that there wasn’t much out there that satisfied our craving for elevated dresses with a 'high-end' look within our price range. Something needed to be done!" Alessandra shares.

By the third round of drinks, these two entrepreneurial ladies had birthed Mestiza. The rest, as they say, is history. 

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After five years, Mestiza is slowly but surely carving a place for itself in the world of fashion design. Although their bold designs are a far cry from the more demure style of the typical Maria Clara ensemble, the elegance, sophistication, and charm are still very much apparent. This month, for Filipino American Heritage Month, Mestiza NY is also launching a new social media campaign to highlight Filipino tastemakers who align with the ethos of a true Mestiza lady. 

While we keep an eye out for that, local and international shoppers can look forward to more optimistic pieces from Mestiza. And yes, that means sparkles — plenty of it — as well as tassels, bows, ruffles, and bright floral prints. 

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