Diversity, cultural roots and a deep bond with the Earth—that is what Valeria del Rey had in mind when she created her breathtaking La Gotta Classics collection.
The designer’s new pieces pay homage to her native Puerto Rico by representing the spectrum of beauty—in the people, as well as in the flora and fauna—that exists in the island.
“When you’re driving through Puerto Rico, you can’t even count how many tones of green there are because there are so many,” she said. “So when I came up with the Classic colors, I included black and white, but I wanted to focus on those earth tones … and I really think that when you look at the collection you feel like you’re driving through the Puerto Rico interior.”
The designs highlight the brand’s signature sophisticated cuts, earthy tones and interesting textures. Unlike the rest of del Rey’s pieces, the Classics do not boast intricate prints or patterns, but are instead simple and elegant, as they’re meant to flatter the body’s natural curves and complement one’s sun-kissed skin.
The textured fabric of the swims, which is made from recycled plastic bottles, “simulates algae,” del Rey said, “and since La Gotta’s overall mission is ‘redefining your relationship with the sun and the planet,’ the one-pieces resemble everything La Gotta represents, which is nature, natural beauty and an overall classic and effortless aesthetic.”
Del Rey shot the collection on a beach in Puerto Rico, using local models of different shapes, skin tones and sizes. “There is no stereotype for Puerto Rican beauty, we are all so different,” she said. “I really wanted to show that.”
The designer described the photoshoot as a love letter to her culture, and said that it brings her so much joy to see her passion project being admired by her people.
“Our No. 1 clientele is from Puerto Rico,” del Rey said. “Something that I’ve seen and I appreciate more and more with time, as the company grows, is that Puerto Ricans are really passionate abut other Puerto Ricans and their talents. And I really love that, especially in the fashion industry.”
Unlike other Spanish-speaking countries, Puerto Rico—as U.S. territory—doesn’t really manufacture fabrics locally or have a booming garment industry, so del Rey, as a successful sustainable fashion designer and entrepreneur, is very much in the minority. Knowing this, she constantly demonstrates through her designs and her personal social media content how proud she is of her roots and how much the island fuels her art.
“It’s huge to, in a way, be setting an example that even though we have to maybe outsource or think outside the box in order to create a brand or anything related to fashion, it’s possible,” del Rey said of her message to her fellow Puerto Ricans interested in joining the industry.
Though del Rey goes back to Puerto Rico often, she now spends most of her time in Miami, like the cool girl she is. So, it’s no surprise that modern American fashion trends have very much influenced her design vision for La Gotta as well as her personal aesthetic.
“We do have that Latin essence in our designs, with the bright colors, but the cut-outs and the sexiness and the boldness are more American,” del Rey said. “You can see the cultural fusion.”
Apart from launching her Classics, the designer also recently debuted her Joshua Tree Collection, which she came up with during a pre-wedding road trip in the California national park with her now-husband. Del Rey recalled getting lost in the park while taking photos of the patterns on the leaves, the rocks, the cacti, the lizards and the rare species of birds she found.
“I realized there was so much diversity; it was easy to get inspired,” del Rey said. “For every collection I focus on different aspects of nature, and I had all these pictures saved and the patterns literally formed themselves, I just digitalized them and recreated them in a more unique and colorful La Gotta way.”
The prints that came out of that trip, and which now live in La Gotta’s swims, are pure art, and some of del Rey’s most glamorous. One of her favorite suits from the collection is the Loretta Black, which has the sexiest cut, a moody desert palette and a sophisticated, abstract print. Another is the stunning Kalia Gray: a one-shoulder long sleeve one-piece with a watercolor-like bird and cactus illustration.
Del Rey’s muse has always been Mother Nature—she even named a swimsuit style “brassica,” which is the scientific name of a genus of plants—and her designs consistently reflect that connection to the planet. It’s something her fans know and love, but in the next few weeks, the designer will be shocking them by releasing a very different kind of collection: La Gotta Bridal. The bridal swims are unlike anything del Rey has designed before, but equally gorgeous. They are pure white, luxuriously silky, elegant in their cuts and even regal in that they’re embellished with tiny faux pearls which give the wearer that perfect “bride moment.”
“When I was getting married, I didn’t find the perfect white swim that would stand out in a very sophisticated and beautiful way, so it always stayed in the back of my mind,” del Rey said, speaking of why she decided to design a bridal collection. “Of course even if you’re not a bride you can wear it, but it’s perfect for honeymoons and bachelorettes. You want to look like a bride but you don’t want your swimsuit to say ‘bride.’ It’s just very effortless and classy.”
Like the rest of the La Gotta swims, the bridal bikinis and one-pieces—available soon on the brand’s website—are made with a sustainable fabric crafted from discarded PET bottles. The company treats 100% of the water they use and recycle 60% internally. Since they launched in September 2020, they’ve decreased their water consumption by 8 liters per bikini and 4 liters per one-piece. They also use recycled threads and dye their fabrics with nontoxic ingredients.
Del Rey’s passion for the planet is genuine, and it shows in the way she lives her life and runs her business. Apart from reducing waste, producing only on demand and using sustainable materials to craft her pieces, del Rey also collaborates with local artisans and charities.
The designer’s bestselling “Raise your glass, not the sea level” robes, for example, were made in partnership with Well Beings Charity, and 20% percent of the proceeds from each purchase go to the nonprofit organization, which helps protect the world’s oceans, animals and communities. The airy, linen cover-ups are made with recycled materials and upcycled buttons from a variety of factories in Colombia, and they pair perfectly with La Gotta’s Classic swims.