Fashion styling is no easy business, just ask all the aspiring stylists waiting for their big moment. It’s a cutthroat industry that requires an unmatched level of tenacity. Among the many tasks they have to carryout, stylists have to keep abreast of the latest trends, maintain a network of designers and industry experts, and, ultimately, bring all of these elements together to create an iconic look. Many people underestimate this field and minimize it as “getting paid to shop” without actually understanding what the job entails: long, irregular hours, and a lot of planning.
With the focus on innovation in this digital age, it’s no surprise that the fashion industry would have its own opportunities to leverage technology even further. One of these opportunities includes a streamlined styling platform that offers a catalog of the work of new and emerging designers. An application like this would aid stylists by cutting research time and automating time-consuming logistics like picking up and dropping off dry cleaning. These might seem like menial tasks, but for a fashion stylist, time is money, and anything that can assist with planning and coordinating can be a huge relief. That’s where LUJO DEPOT comes in.
After spending 10 years navigating the fashion industry herself, LA-based stylist and LA Times Fashion Director at Large Keyla Marquez launched a first-of-its-kind independent online showroom. The platform’s mission is to provide iconic fashion pieces “on-demand, seamlessly and stress-free.” LUJO DEPOT specializes in renting sustainable, vintage, and contemporary garments by established and emerging designers alike, and although the platform is membership-based, it’s free to use for creatives in the fashion industry. Not to mention that it’s easy to navigate, almost like the website Rent The Runway but with plenty of cooler designers to offer.
For Marquez, her love of fashion runs deep. Her mom and grandmother had their own clothing line and factories in El Salvador. Her family eventually migrated to the US where they took on working class jobs, and despite not continuing their careers in fashion, the love for design and fashion was passed down to Marquez. With the unwavering support of her mother, Marquez began to pursue a career in fashion styling, working as an assistant for many years in Los Angeles. It was there that she learned the ins and outs of the industry and worked alongside a community of creatives who would further inspire her biggest venture yet.
“LUJO DEPOT really came to me 2 years ago during the pandemic. One of the stores I used to frequent for styling pulls had shut its doors and it really made me think of all the challenges I was already facing. I knew we [stylists] needed a creative solution,” Marquez tells LATINA. Marquez added that even when this store was open, she still faced the challenging logistics of getting around the city and completing tasks like tailoring and dry cleaning. Stylists jump through many hurdles to ensure their clients’ looks are unforgettable. And the extra effort spent finding pieces that are exclusive or from diverse designers can be prohibitively time consuming, reinforcing an already significant barrier to elevating underrepresented designers.
For the Industry, By the Industry
The commitment to supporting creatives is at the forefront of LUJO DEPOT’s mission. It gives emerging artists the opportunity to make their designs available to celebrity and wardrobe stylists, fashion editors, creators, and industry professionals. Marquez explains that “as a designer, you just want to work. You just want to focus on making clothes. Especially for young designers, it’s hard to understand the business side of things so I want to be that bridge for designers and their clients. I don’t want to gatekeep, I want all of us to win.”
Before Marquez launched the styling platform, she regularly collaborated with designers in her community to create one-of-a-kind clothes in support of social organizations committed to COVID-19 relief and immigration rights. On her Instagram you can find images of entries submitted by designers who re-imagined the classic white t-shirt, and images of another project including a blue “No ICE” t-shirt spelled in neon green, that gained attention from publications like I-D and PAPER Magazine. Both projects provided designers the opportunity to find community in tough times, and the proceeds from the sales went directly to non-profit organizations like RAICES in Texas that gives legal aid to the immigrant community.
In an industry that is often all about who you know, Marquez continues her commitment to community, elevating emerging designers, and providing support with LUJO DEPOT. In LUJO’s first campaign, which Marquez described as a “Love Letter to Los Angeles,” nine artists were welcomed to pay homage to the 1940’s Chicano Movement by re-imagining the Zoot Suit. The campaign included designs by Latinx designers currently breaking the mold in fashion: Gypsy Sport, Sanchez Kane, Georgina Trevino, Freak City, Valetina Vargas, Hologram City, Not Urz, and Israel Valencia.
She tells LATINA, “I wanted to invite designers to reimagine the suit. I asked them, ‘What’s the evolution of it through your eyes? Through your aesthetic? Through your craft?’ because every designer has a different story they are trying to tell. I want to incorporate that story.”
The entire campaign was executed by an all-brown crew including the designers, models, makeup artists, producers, and photographers. These designs are currently available on LUJO DEPOT’s website. Check out the “ZOOT ZOOT” campaign below:
Photo: Carlos Jaramillo @_carlosjaramillo_ cc: Saul Barrera @saulebarrera, Fashion Stylist: Marcus Correa @marcusjcorrea cc: Deirdre Marcial @ddmarcial, Fashion Director: Keyla Marquez @Keylakeylakeyla, Art: Maria Maea @maeamaria Lance Rico @levulose_, Makeup: Selena Ruiz @anythingforselenaaassss cc: Leslie Castle @leslieecastle, Hair: Nelson Vercher @nelsonvercher cc: Rebecca Velez @beckinbeautyxo_, Producer: Myrna Perez @myrnassty cc: Leslie Ambriz @leslieambriz_, Spiritual Department: Pablo Simental @nene.pablo, Graphics: Paul Flores @plflrs, Studio: Dust Studios @duststudiosla
Behind the scenes magical Video + Stills captured by Monica Zulema @monicazulemaa and Luis Hernandez @guichopalma
Thalia Henao is the Managing Editor of LATINA. She writes about culture, fashion, and beauty for LATINA, W Mag, Allure, and more.