Designer Sergio Davila is inspired by his Peruvian heritage to create beautifully crafted clothing. (Photo/Getty Images)

New York Fashion Week: Peruvian designer turns tradition into high fashion

The world may not see the Peruvian capitol city of Lima as the South American equivalent of Paris, France but fashion designer Sergio Davila is determined to raise the profile of his native city as a fashion-forward destination capable of influencing global fashion trends.

“I want to give back to my country as an ambassador for Peruvian fashion and materials,” says Davila, who will showcased his Fall 2013 collection for men and women during Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. The designer – who emigrated from his native Peru to study at San Francisco’s Academy of Art University – says that with his chic, tailored clothing, he hopes to reflect Lima’s cosmopolitan nature and international flair.“Lima is a city that’s more than 500 years old with Asian and European influences that give it such a unique scene,” explains Davila, who divides his time between New York City and Lima. By using Peruvian textiles like baby alpaca wool, organic pima cotton and silk throughout his sleek collection, Davila offers clothing that is traditional but modern; Latin American in heritage but entirely international in appeal.

“I’ve been very lucky to have the confidence to pursue my dreams,” says Davila, who made his first pair of men’s pants as a fashion design student more than ten years ago. He recalls that the material – purchased from an army supply store – cost 15 dollars – and by selling the pants for 100 dollars, he was able to quickly realize the potential market for his work.

“I sold 380 pairs of those cargo pants,” says Davila, who launched his self-titled collection in 2004. His designs rapidly began to receive critical acclaim and in 2008, he became the first Peruvian to show at Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City. He now owns three retail stores in Peru and with plans underway to re-open a store in New York City this fall, Davila is more confident than ever of his potential to impact an industry that at times, can still be skeptical of Latino talent.

“I never want to rest on my achievements,” explains the award-winning designer, whose clients include the Puerto Rican group Calle 13 and Australian sister duo The Veronicas. “I want to keep working, dress people and make them happy.”

Showroom buyers will certainly be happy with the designs Davila presented on the runway Thursday at New York’s Lincoln Center. Heavy on sophisticated knits and inspired by Lima’s regal Baroque architecture, Davila’s Fall 2013 sportswear collection embodied what he called “clothing for people who travel, love freedom and comfort.”

“My clothes are for people across North, South and Central America,” says Davila, whom some critics have dubbed “The new Narciso Rodriguez.”

“I design for those who value a cosmopolitan mentality but respect tradition.”

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