Designer Spotlight: Agosto Cuellar takes Rascuachic to Paris Fashion Week

Designer Spotlight: Agosto Cuellar takes Rascuachic to Paris Fashion Week

Imagine a life of art and unique sustainable fashion mixed with a west side story, and you could imagine the world of fashion designer, Agosto Cuellar. Born and raised in the westside of San Antonio, TX, Cuellar would be well known for coining his own style of Rasquachic culture of the avant-garde, slow, eco- friendly fashion while devoting his life to his artistry and not world fame. From curating window displays to one of the largest fashion show productions, “Runway En La Calle” in the heart of the Westside of San Antonio and making his exciting and long-awaited debut at New York and Paris Fashion Week this past year to present his SS 2020 collection. This is the eclectic fashion journey of a humble fashion designer who still resides in his home town giving back to his community, inspiring others around him with his vivacious personality and passion for designing repurposed garments for the past 20 years in South Texas.


Agosto Cuellar. Photo Credit: Kristel Andrea Orta-Puente


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“One of the first retail jobs I remember”, stated Cuellar, “was working for Judy’s and ‘The Go Around’ at Ingram Park Mall. As a teenager I attended John Marshall High school, and enrolled myself in the work-study program that gave me the opportunity to attend school half-day and work a half-day.” From 1996-2002, Cuellar felt the struggles of a young fashion entrepreneur trying to bring his visions to life, by barely making rent and reinvesting everything back into store for his customers. By 2002, he was offered a cozy retail space tucked in a back corner of an existing boutique called Jai. While working here, Cuellar would spend his time vintage shopping and curating looks that attracted many customers, finding themselves squeezed to the back of the Jai store to get to his one-of-a-kind pieces. In 2002, Cuellar became the owner of Jai and renamed it, Jive Refried. During this time he expanded his creativity and craft and finally was serving the audience he wanted. “I never got the opportunity to photograph my first pieces because the customer would snatch them right off the sewing machine, Cuellar stated.”


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Paris Fashion Week SS20 Photo via Agosto Cuellar Facebook

In 2002, Cuellar’s Jive Refried boutique was a hot spot for locals of all ages to shop, dance and view the vintage repurposed window displays that were snatched off the mannequins within days. Here, Cuellar found himself designing everyday looks that attracted people near and far. He recalls on one occasion, “I remember a couple coming in with their kids having a great time dancing to my music and browsing the racks. When the woman approach the counter and handed me her card, I looked up and quickly recognized her. It was Cynthia Nixon, well-known Sex and the City actress who played Miranda.” She bought a gold puffy skirt that I made and just couldn’t believe she was buying one of my designs!” While working long hours and reinvesting back into his craft, Cuellar also received a fashion writeup from the global magazine, ELLE in 2005. The journalist was quoted by saying, “these styles are so New York and Paris”. 15 years later, this would prove to be one of his outstanding achievements in his career.

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Between 2008 and 2018, Cuellar was a seasoned producer of many shows before curating one of his largest fashion shows that ran annually in the heart of the westside of San Antonio, TX called “Runway En La Calle.” Through his efforts to bringing awareness of the fashion talent from his neighborhood and surrounding areas of San Antonio, Runway En La Calle would be a staple for uplifting the community in more ways than just fashion and art; it would give people hope that anything is possible with passion and drive.


Runway en la Calle 2016. Credits: Chris Cantoya

While raising awareness and supporting local artists, Cuellar still held on to his dream of designing unparalleled garments and would also brave the auditions for the fashion reality TV show, Project Runway Season 5, and 6 with his garments draped over his arms, proudly. During these auditions, the judges looked on with disbelief of a designer with no hangers however, tv host Tim Gunn was quoted saying to Cuellar, “you’re a wild card,” and quickly made a lasting impression on Mr. Gunn. Although Cuellar, made it to the top 25 of auditions and was not selected, this would only prove to be part of his destiny to show his garments in two of the world’s largest fashion events of the year, New York and Paris SS 2020 Fashion Weeks.


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Paris Fashion Week SS20 Photo via Agosto Cuellar Facebook

As a devoted fashion merchandiser and manager of Goodwill San Antonio for 5 years now, the very stores from where he pulled his vintage wearables to recreate back in 1996, Cuellar got the opportunity out of a lifetime to present his SS2020 collection with the help of the fashion show production company Flying Solo, a platform that’s dedicated to showing off designers and boutiques in a more intimate and exclusive fashion week setting. In an effort to rejuvenate his soul and creativity, he was chosen out of thousands of applicants, and without hesitation, family, friend’s and colleagues held out their open arms to help. During this pivotal moment in his career and life, donations flooded in and he was on his way with his parents to New York and Paris Fashion Week. Fashion week is everything you imagine it to be, no sleep, full of adrenaline with a touch of backstage frenzy but most of all, making connections. Cuellar mentions, “I couldn’t even get into my own show, but I was happy to be backstage chatting with the models enjoying with excitement and anticipation.” He also mentioned PFW was the highlight of his experience. He said everyone in the city took fashion week so seriously. “Paris reminded me of back home, it was a small-town feel but on hyperspeed”, says Cuellar. “One woman looked like she stepped out of a Parisian movie dripping in couture just to go to the coffee shop.”


Paris Fashion Week SS20 Photo via Agosto Cuellar Facebook

With the many fashion life experiences dating from 1996 to 2020, self-made fashion designer Agosto Cueller has been a force of creativity, change, and inspiration to the sustainable fashion movement of his beloved city San Antonio, making him the recipient of the Cultural Pioneer Award at the 2018 San Antonio Fashion Awards. As he embarks on growing his career locally as the fashion economic manager and social ambassador of Goodwill, he will also be preparing his SS 2021 collection, in which he hopes to show this year locally and in other countries such as India and Canada as he was invited to show his work. “My goal is to continue my work and to continue to inspire the next generation always. Who new a Mexicano from the westside with brown skin, would end up in New York and Paris. says Cuellar”

 

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Kaia Dublin
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Kaia is a Trendsetter Member of the Texas Fashion Industry Initiative currently learning about online fashion media and content creation through its mentorship opportunity. A fashion and music entrepreneur who is local at heart with an international outlook, Kaia Dublin is a Texas digital influencer, and fashion blogger who enjoys expressing herself with trendy-chic looks for the women on the go! Kaia also has a background in behavior health, working with children and families with special needs. Most recently she has been modeling and styling campaigns for her local fashion community and enjoys her position with Style Lush TV as their Fashion Services Coordinator.