My name is Gina Lopez, born in Mosquera, Colombia, a small village outside of Bogota. At that time, the village had a population between 7-10k. When I was one years old my parents sold everything and went on a trip to Mexico. At the US and Mexico border my dad told the then relatively easygoing border police that he wanted a short-term tourist visa, so that he could take his five kids to Disneyland. The visa was granted, we entered California and never left. With the exception of an accent when I speak Spanish, one would never guess that I was a “misplaced” Colombian.
Despite having only lived in Colombia for my first year of life, I have never answered the question, “Where are you from?” with anything other than “Colombia”. That’s because my proud parents never missed a chance to remind us of where we came from and how beautiful Colombia is. When I was twenty-five I finally returned to the motherland, the occasion was tough as I was there partially to complete one of my mom’s last wishes to return to her home. She passed away from Leukaemia and I brought some of her ashes with me on the trip. The trip had a significant impact on me, I truly fell in love and for the first time understood why my parents were so proud to be Colombian. You could say that since then I’ve had a strong case of “yellow fever”. It has been a long time dream to start a business that was related to Colombia but it wasn’t until I moved to Berlin that the opportunity presented itself.
Tell us about your concept and the celebration of Colombian designers.
My concept is about exposing a different side of Colombia. For many, the country is the show Narcos and for a long, violent period that was Colombia. I recently read an interview with Nina Garcia, fashion director at American Elle and Marie Claire where she explains, “Colombia is incredibly rich in talent and craftsmanship. Sadly, until recent years, Colombia-based talents have been obscured due to violence and corruption.” Things are different now. With a new era of peace, the design culture in Colombia, particularly in Medellin, is booming. At the forefront of this renaissance is the intimate apparel industry. Colombia is the third largest producer of intimate apparel and has the oldest textile hub in Latin America. From that industry a lot of innovation and flair is thriving. My concept, YELLOW FEVER °CO curates the cream of the crop and brings it to life in Europe.
How is your brand unique?
I think one of the most unique aspects of the brand is that it’s here. Who would ever have guessed a showcase of Colombia’s up and coming swim and lingerie designers would be here in the middle of Berlin? Although, it was precisely this unlikely match that makes it so special. I ran a swimwear-only pop up this summer in Mitte and many shoppers were delighted to see something that “You don’t see everyday”. Many of them said the pieces reminded them of items they only saw while on holiday in exotic locations but they would’ve never expected it here. Likewise, when I approach designers in Colombia and tell them I want to bring their styles to Berlin, they are super excited to reach an audience that they would have otherwise never reached.
Does the name Yellow Fever have a particular significance?
As I alluded to above, “yellow fever” is a phrase used to describe being proud to be Colombian. During the last world cup, Colombia advanced to the round of sixteen, a huge deal for football obsessed Colombians. The entire country was wearing the national team’s jersey, which is yellow. Newscasters all over the world said that Colombia had contracted a serious wave of “yellow fever”. It also has a bit to do with what I sell; lingerie and swimwear equal rising temperatures ;)
How are the pieces made and do you have a favourite?
Many of the labels I work with add artisanal touches to their style which can only be done by hand and only by those who know the craft. This is usually taught and passed on generation to generation. My favourite piece at the moment comes from the label Mai Petit and it’s the sweet Renata PJ. I like to think it’s what Tinker Bell would wear as a grown, modern, chic woman.
Tell us about how you envision your consumers to be.
I envision my consumers to be individuals who have as much fun getting dressed as they do getting undressed. It’s for the person that likes to treat themselves to something special and values a piece of cloth that was made ethically and with love.
What are the next steps for Yellow Fever?
YELLOW FEVER is looking for a home. Like they say, home is where the heart is and I want nothing more than a space where anyone can come fall in love with their bodies over and over again with these special garments. There will be shimmies.