Horacio Nieto
Fashion Designer
By Tamara Jenkins

Chicago designer Horacio Nieto is making his mark in the fashion world. Named winner of AOL’s 2008 Latino Fashionista online design competition, Nieto beat out 10 other contestants to claim the top spot and the opportunity to dress actress and model Ana de la Reguera from the film Nacho Libre. The Texas native is no stranger to challenges as he has a woman’s and menswear line. UnRated Magazine recently had the chance to sit down with the talented young designer to learn more about him, get his take on the Chicago fashion scene and find out his plans for the future.

Why did you make the move to Chicago-why not New York
My mom said no to New York because it’s too big and too expensive. I researched four schools and the transportation (in Chicago) is easy; you can access everything. Chicago also had a Mexican folk dancing group here I joined while I was in school.

When did you know you wanted to become a fashion designer
10-12 years old, middle school age. I started sketching and it progressed from there.

Why men’s and women’s clothing
I started with women’s clothing because that’s what you learn in school. Arlo is my men’s line. I could never find anything for myself and I started making custom jackets for myself and I noticed the need for a menswear line in the Midwest. I started with t-shirts and jackets and people responded. It separates me from other designers because I do both.

Which do you like designing more-men’s or women’s
I love both. Women will wear anything; (women) like to push the envelope. With men (its about) pushing the envelope, trying to get men out of long sleeve shirts and ties, trying to get them (to go) out of the box.

Your Fall/Winter 2009 collection at the Heaven Gallery on April 13th featured mostly dresses and skirts in the collection-why
Pants are very difficult because of fit. Boutiques like to stick with people with experience (with pants) because of fit.

How would you describe your recent collection
The inspiration (for this collection) was the Jazmine Sullivan song “Bust your Windows”. It’s a collection of sleek revenge pieces. A girl gets dumped, goes to the club and see’s him (her ex) and the revenge is her looking good when she sees him. Or a girl actually busting the windows of his car, but she’s looking so good no one believes she did it. The collection is mostly party dresses-giving women a variety of everything.

You’re the winner of the 2008 AOL Latino Fashionista, what was it like to film an online show
It was an experience. It was4 days in New York. Because their taping you, it wasn’t so spontaneous, it was mechanical. If we were shooting something (and it wasn’t right) we may need to do it again. We were filmed from 7a.m.-10 p.m. running around getting things for shoots. At the end, I was ready to come home. I was tired of New York.

What did you think of New York
Very big. I can see how it (fashion industry) thrives with all the resources.

Can Chicago one day be a fashion mecca like New York
Yes, but Chicago’s going to have to wake up and realize the little stuff were doing is not helping to make it what it can be. We can’t just have fashion shows and have fashion. There are not enough resources for designers. (Chicago) is the bubble of the Midwest and not really fashion.

Have you auditioned for Project Runway
I did (audition) the first year. I was in school then. It was 400 of us in line waiting about 9 hours to get in for four minutes.

Any upcoming projects/shows
I’m interviewing interns and planning a spring/summer 2010 show for October that will showcase Arlo (menswear line) and my women’s designs. I’m also trying to become apart of Chicago Fashion Focus-I just sent a proposal in.

Where do you see your line in 5 years
In more boutiques and major retail stores-anywhere someone can buy it and can afford that fashion piece.

If you could dress anyone, who would it be
Charlize Theron. She’s a fashion icon and I admire the work she’s done (on behalf of) gay rights.

What's the hardest part about being a designer
Getting your name out there.

Do you have any role models in the industry
Anyone who’s been in this business and endured it is my role model.

Advice to anyone interested(or dreaming)of becoming a designer
Make sure to think twice, it’s a lot of work. You have to have a passion for it; the stamina, the endurance and you have to be ready to be critiqued by everyone in the world.

For more information on Horacio Nieto and his designs, please visit:
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