Dim the lights, cue the spotlight, and play the music... Herman Nadal's designs have entered the runway!
This young designer is taking the fashion world by storm, from reality competitions to local fashion shows and world stages. He shares some of his favorite things about Puerto Rico and what keeps him inspired.
Here's a look at Puerto Rico from the eyes of a Boricua.
Nice to meet you, Herman!
Tell us about you and your fashion journey since winning Revelación Moda.
I entered the Revelación Moda - a fashion reality competition at 19 years old— an experience that helped me personally and professionally. I became the second winner of the show, which put me in a position to present on the same platforms as my colleagues.
The Revelación Moda stage and the local fashion show San Juan Moda allowed me to present my portfolio, define my style, and find my niche. This opportunity also opened doors that helped formalize my brand and allowed me to pursue and live my passion.
How would you describe your style, and how has it evolved over the years?
I started young, so my mindset was different. I envisioned my brand and the person I wanted to dress - like someone on the streets of New York, as I always saw this city as the mecca of fashion.
Over the years, I matured and began to describe my love for my homeland. Fashion is a language with the power to create culture, so I have evolved by integrating my experiences and my culture. I choose the best from the past and transform it into something modern, where inclusivity is part of the brand’s values.
You’ve gone from learning to teaching; what’s your secret to staying inspired?
I became a teacher at 21 at EDP University, where I graduated from. I’ve had the opportunity to coach students from my generation, and now, as an adult, I can see evolution and change in the newer generations. This keeps me updated on how society changes and how teachers also have the power to help guide other creative minds in finding their voice. I enjoy sharing the knowledge I have gained throughout my career and showing them the reality of being a designer on our Island.
Puerto Rico at the forefront
What aspects of Puerto Rico do you incorporate into your designs?
The colonial architecture around the Island is a source of inspiration. I incorporate traditional clothing such as the bomba dress, guayaberas, mundillo (lacework), and vejigantes (folklore characters with masks) to create techniques, choose textiles, and color palettes. Music that relates to our culture differently, like iLé's music, is also a source of inspiration.
My proposal is not a copy of what already exists or the past; it is an interpretation of my culture for the new generations.
Any shout-outs to other local designers that have inspired you throughout your career?
Before me, a group of colleagues helped pave the way for the fashion industry. But the person who saw my potential before everyone else was designer Lisa Thon. She was my mentor and provided opportunities that helped shape me professionally.
What's your on-Island dream collaboration and why?
My dream collaboration is to create something with the global number one artist, Bad Bunny. Collaborating with Benito Martínez, who has a different and inclusive vision, would be a dream. I think we could create magic since music, like fashion, is a language that helps us express ourselves. It would be a complete cultural manifestation.
Another dream collaboration would be somehow incorporating my illustration skills into a brand to create a link between art and fashion.
Bayamón through a local's eyes
You come from a town that has birthed many talents in Sports, Music, and Literature; what is your favorite thing about Bayamón?
I have been an artist-in-residence in Bayamón for five years, a place that has helped me formalize my artistic career. They value the significance of art and fashion in our culture. Thanks to this opportunity to have my own space in the urban area, I have expressed my creativity freely.
Where should people go when they visit?
I will direct my recommendations to everything you can do near my atelier in the urban area of Bayamón. If you're in town, begin with a stop at Café 2150, and visit the Francisco Oller Museum, where you will enjoy a diversity of local artists. Also, visit my colleagues in the resident artist cottages, where you can visit each of their studios and see the diverse art created in Bayamón.
I also recommend the trailers or El Nido. Both places offer food and music in a family-friendly environment. And don't forget to try the ice cream at 180 Grados, right next to my atelier. All these spaces are run by Puerto Rican entrepreneurs who are reviving the urban area, thanks to the mayor's and the municipality's support.
A fashion designer recommends
Tropical weather makes Puerto Rico an eternal summer paradise; what are three essential items people should pack for their Boricua vacation?
Three essential items to pack when visiting our Island are clothing made of linen or cotton, sunscreen, and swimwear. The fourth essential item would be a Herman Nadal hat called Buckelita.
We aim to support local brands and businesses. Where do we find you shopping on the Island?
Fashion is my passion, and jewelry is a field I haven't entered yet, so I like to buy pieces that create a conversation; local brands like Héctor Whiskey Tango & Ditas Zayas Jewelry have a wide variety with a cultural focus.
What is the first place you must visit when you’re home?
Any hidden gems you want to share?
Right now, I think the urban area of Bayamón is a hidden gem. It has everything: food, entertainment, and nightlife.
Rapid Fire Questions
Alcapurria or mofongo
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Right now, I have iLe's music playing—also the new album "DATA" by producer Tainy which features collaborations with Puerto Rican artists.Learn more
With lots of ketchup. Please and thank you.Learn more
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