On September 20, Hurricane María rocked the island of Puerto Rico. Donald Trump tweeted, “Puerto Rico being hit hard by new monster Hurricane. Be careful, our hearts are with you —will be there to help!” Instead, it would be 13 days until he visited the US territory to see the devastation for himself, tossing rolls of paper towels and toilet paper into the crowd. Almost 6,000 people have died and nearly 13,314 people are still without power in Puerto Rico — a crucial part of the recovery.
The aftermath has been even worse than expected: The New York Times estimated at the time the hurricane hit that 3.4 million people were without power. Hundreds of thousands were without water, and there was a shortage of food and medical supplies. Rebuilding life after María, hasn’t been easy. People have lost their jobs, kids are missing classes. And for Puerto Rico’s budding fashion scene, it’s been especially frustrating.
San Juan Moda, the island’s Fashion Week which stands to show what its designers have to offer has happened bi-annually since 2013, save for its ninth edition originally planned for October 2017 until Hurricane María hit. The shows eventually took place last December after rounds of fundraising and again in April. But as Glamour pointed out in April, the industry is proceeding with caution. Not only have designers lost resources but their clientele don’t have as much disposable income as they may have previously. As the island looks to reinvent itself, so are its designers.
Ahead, we spoke to five designers recount how their businesses were affected and how they are rebuilding.