Playeras Latinas ( Latino T-shirts)

Almost a year ago, Macy’s department store introduced the NaCo brand t-shirts to the U.S. market. The t-shirts, with their selection of catchy phrases, slogans and adaptations from Mexican slang, made the brand an instant success within the U.S. Hispanic population, especially among Latinos with Mexican roots.

Phrases like “Ser Naco es Chido” (Being Tacky is cool), Brown is the new White, and Se Habla Español (Spanish Spoken) that mock Latino tackiness garnered great attention from the public and the media, while some Latino-rights advocates considered the phrases racist.  In response, Macy’s pulled the shirts off the racks and issued a public apology.

But the fact is that these t-shirts were originally conceived and designed for the Mexican market, appealing to the Latino sense of humor and capacity to parody themselves. In Mexico, the NaCo t-shirts were perceived as a “cute” trend, adopted mainly by wealthy members of the society.

In Mexico (and Latin America), wearing a garment with a slogan doesn’t mean that the individual endorses or agrees with the statement, especially when these slogans are written in another language. For instance, I have seen Hispanic males and females both in Mexico and in the U.S. wearing garments from the RED Campaign or Walk for Breast Cancer without having a clue of the meaning of the message they were promoting.

Of course, the opposite is true when it comes to wearing sports team-related garments.  Those individuals are acutely aware of the symbolism of the slogans and colors they wear, and they will defend them with pride.

Meanwhile, another brand of Latino-themed t-shirts has entered the U.S. market, but this time the clothing is designed and created in Texas by a company called Siesta Tees.  Siesta Tees offers a line of garments with less “controversial” topics and designs that appeal first- and second-generation U.S Hispanics. Phrases like “ I © abuela” ( I © grandma),  Can you say chula? (cutie) and a couple of designs from their Ojo (eye) Collection, which, according to the company’s Web site:

… was inspired by abuela, tía and that egg they put under the bed. Mexican folklore believes that people who envy or are jealous of babies give them the evil eye, which causes the kiddos to get sick. To rid the little ones of the evil eye you pray over them with the egg and place it under their bed, and poof the little one is rid of the OJO.

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2 Responses to Playeras Latinas ( Latino T-shirts)

  1. Greg Sanchez says:

    Felipe,
    While searching the web for ideas, I came across your blog “Playeras Latinas” and was thrilled to read about our Siesta Tees brand! Thanks to you and all the gente who have supported and helped spread the word about our tees, we are off to a great start for 2008. We started small, but have very high expectations for our Latino themed t-shirts. We have a new and exciting line coming out in the fall and are currently working on ideas for other prodcuts that would compliment our apparel line.

    Gracias amigo,
    Greg Sanchez
    Siesta Tees

  2. Hi Felipe,
    I came across your blog and I think it’s phenomenal. I am currently working for a great company called Chucho who has received licensing from Latino companies like Bimbo, Roma, and Boing to create nostalgic, vintage tee’s for Latino young men and boys. We also host a charity auction every year to raise money for the Beca Palomita Education Fund which is a college scholarship program for Latinos. On our Chucho website, http://www.ropachucho.com, we have our regular collection of Chucho tee’s along with tee’s designed by Latino celebrities including Carlos Mencia, Cristian De La Fuente, and Cheech Marin which benefit the education fund. Please check out our site and help us out if you can! We’d love to make it onto your blog.

    Thanks so much!!!
    Christina Ross
    Chucho Tee’s

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