Lisbeth Carolina Arias has a quintessentially American story. Born in El Salvador, she emigrated to the U.S. with her family more than two decades ago at the age of two.
The daughter of a seamstress, Arias learned to sew at age 12, and she followed that passion to a degree in fashion and textile design from N.C. State. After graduation, she moved to New York City, working at fashion brands such as Vera Wang and Piece & Co.
Now, the 26-year-old has launched her own fashion line, Descalza.
“I went into fashion because I loved the process of making,” she says. “It wasn’t until I was in college that I realized how powerful fashion can serve as a voice and create change in our small world. Fashion is the skin you choose. The story you want to tell. I love creating pieces that reflect both.”
Descalza allows Arias to tell her story — and that of other Latin American artisans — through her use of fabrics handcrafted by makers in Latin America. Her dresses and tops for women, along with neckties and bowties for men, feature the signature bold colors and patterns of Latin American design.
And she marries that artistry — and her own heritage — with the textile legacy of her adopted home, partnering with North Carolina manufacturing facilities like worker-owned Opportunity Threads in Morganton, TS Designs of Burlington and Brown & Church neckwear of Pilot Mountain.
“Just like I’m working with locals in my native country, I wanted to do the same for my adopted one — I’m literally connecting the two pieces that make up my identity,” she says. “Also, North Carolina was known for textiles when I was growing up. The jobs might have left, but the people stayed. Now, I get to work with those talented individuals.”
Arias officially launched her ecommerce site last month at descalza.co, where customers can order pieces that will be specially made just for them. As the business grows, she hopes to expand her mission to help others by creating opportunities for artisans both here and abroad.
“I hope that Descalza can have its own cooperatives all throughout Latin America where we can grow the fibers, create the yarns, weave the fabrics and house the artisans all together,” Arias says. “I’ll love it when Descalza customers can travel to Latin America, visit our cooperatives to see how everything is made, and interact with the artisans that make their clothing.
New wedding gowns from designer Tara LaTour’s Rose + Williams line come to Raleigh’s Gilded Rose Bridal for a trunk show, July 10-21. To schedule an appointment, visit gildedbridal.com.