Colombian born designer, Claudia Gontovnik Has a Mission to Make her Unique Line of Apparel Sustainable & Stylish

Colombian Designer

Columbian born designer, Claudia Gontovnik has a mission to make her unique line of apparel sustainable & stylish while at the same time making powerful positive statements

Colombian born, Claudia Gontovnik embraces the idea of fashion being both stylish and sustainable. She puts a colorful and unique twist to her upcycled collection.

On Thursday, Oct. 18th, I held a trunk show in my KBL Group Intl. showroom featuring the beautiful designs of Colombian born designer, Claudia Gontovnik. Gontovnik and I met a little over a year ago at the annual NYC Denim Days Festival event which hi-lights everything to do with denim from wash techniques, dying methods, new specialty brands in the market, literally anything that can be associated with denim is there under one roof making it a great place for fans of indigo to connect. Because Gontovnik’s collection is heavily based in denim, this was a great venue for her to set up shop in NYC and bring awareness to her brand.

Jeans for days to choose from….each individually designed. Odds are, you’ll find a pair that suits both your size and your aesthetic taste.

Upon walking by her booth at the 2017 festival, I was immediately enamored by her collection of unique pieces. In a sea of indigo denim product, Claudia’s apparel stood out because  it was so vibrant, fun, and whimsical. At just a quick glance, I was immediately drawn to her clothing. Once we had introduced ourselves and I had a chance to peek through her collection, I had so many questions to ask her. I wanted to know what inspired her to design this type of apparel and I was extremely interested in knowing more about the detailed and handcrafted work that went into achieving all of the beautiful embroidery, applique, and beading designs.

You can see all of the painstaking work that it takes to hand embroider these appliques. And you certainly get the tongue in cheek humor that Claudia likes to play!

At the festival, I learned about Claudia’s background story. She told me that she had been born and raised in Barranquilla, Colombia. She had actually attended college in the United states, graduating from Syracuse University in 1981. With her signature style of comfortable chicness and natural femininity, Claudia went back home to Colombia to launch her eponymous fashion house. She found great success with it and was proclaimed as one of the pioneers of fashion design and style in Colombia. She established free standing stores as well as distribution of her collections throughout Colombia and in 2001, she expanded her brand to the international arena relocating her operations to the United States where she opened two stores in Miami, Florida and founded a digital fashion magazine called “”.

As well as denim jeans, Claudia has been recently working on designing camouflage pants. She has a love of orange accents in her current collection! 

With Claudia’s talent and abundance of energy, her story sounded like the natural path for a motivated designer looking to grow their brand and reach new audiences; but after some time, she felt like she needed to rethink her priorities. She made a transition around 2014 and THIS is the part of her story that really inspires me, her turn towards social responsibility and sustainability.

We all know that one of the buzz words these days especially in fashion is “sustainability”. We hear about initiatives to save resources, reduce waste water and dye chemicals, reduce the manufacturing of throw away goods — do the things that are in opposition to today’s desire for fast fashion. Although the idea of sustainability is on many brand’s, manufacturer’s, factory’s, and designer’s minds, it’s still not being executed on enough. I also think that society sees it as something “lesser” when it comes to their apparel, like they had to settle for something. This is why I think it’s so important to speak about the designers and brands who do it with incredible style and have more reason to do it than just because it’s the “right” thing to do. They also do it because they love it and have found it to be a way to express their individual design philosophies.

Claudia’s collection is 100% about sustainability, but the fashion itself is so unique that I’m not thinking sustainability when I first see it. I’m thinking – I love this! It speaks to me. I want this one of a kind piece! And then after you fall in love with the piece, Claudia will tell you the lovely background story of why she created it, what it means to her, and everything that went into making it.

Once I left the festival, I knew that Claudia was someone I would be staying in touch with. She is so talented and just a very nice person who loves fashion as much as me that we had so much in common. With her amazing style, I always kept her in mind when I needed specialty pieces to make me stand out when I was covering events for Latin Business Today. I’ve worn her pieces to fashion shows during New York Fashion Week, and also to film festivals. Her pieces are just so unique and definitely conversation starters.

Trying on one of Claudia’s beautiful jackets at the trunk show.

I absolutely love Gontovnik’s style, and we’ve always talked about collaborating so when I knew she was going to be in NYC this fall, I asked her if she’d let me host a trunk show for her in my showroom. She accepted and we were off and running. It was such a pleasure for me to see all of her new gorgeous pieces and see all of the incredible details in each garment.


One of Claudia’s inspiration boards of fabrics and verbiage that she uses to design her many pieces in her collection.

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Tina Trevino
Tina Trevino, Partner & Director of Community Relations for Latin Biz Today is President & CEO of Tocaya Design under which she does design consulting for major apparel companies as well as designs, manufactures and markets her women’s lifestyle brand, Tocaya. With 25 years of industry experience most recently as Design Director of KBL Group Intl. Ltd., she has managed large creative design teams. Trevino provides insight on upcoming fashion trends for each season collaborating with designers, merchants and product development teams to help develop brand appropriate apparel. She specializes in sweaters, knits and wovens. Having previously worked with private label brands for stores like Kohl’s, NY & Co, White House|Black Market, and Ann Taylor to name a few as well as brands like Lee jeans, Wendy Williams, Brooke Shields Timeless, Torn by Ronny Kobo, and Whitney Port, she has the ability to build brands from the design and merchandising process all the way through fitting, production, and marketing.