This designer is empowering women of color through wearable art
I assume you enjoy a great pair of high waisted Levi’s as much as the person, given the fact that you’re living and breathing. But, Maurin Santos Lopez takes her high rise 501’s shaken, not stirred.
Lopez is an artist who’s been painting and drawing since she was a little girl. From drawing naked bodies when she was twelve to portraying afro-Latinx femmes like herself on her clothes, she’s never shied away from expressing herself and has used her art to become the pilot of her own life.
The young artist has found the ultimate means of combining her loves of fashion, painting and self-expression. And the best part? We’re all beneficiaries. We asked her all about the launch of her new collection, what inspires her and, of course, how we might go about getting our hands on one of her custom made pieces.
How did you come up with the name for your business?
So I was having a fashion show, and I had zero idea what to name my clothing line. One of my models suggested that I just use my last name (Santos) but in English (Saints) as the name of the line. And since people often can’t pronounce my first name, they call me “Mar” instead of “Maurín.” Thus, “Saints by Mar” was born.
Where are you based?
I’m based in the Dominican Republic.
How would you characterize your art?
I like to channel my personality through my art so that people feel empowered, free and confident while they wear my pieces.
I like to think that my art reflects uniqueness, and the way that there’s beauty in everything. For me, art is a way to express how I feel and who I am without talking: so imagine being walking art!
What made you start painting on clothes?
I’ve been painting on canvases, paper and all kind of materials since I was little. I’m a self taught artist, so since I was really young I’ve been painting, drawing, and creating things with my hands. I started painting on my shorts and shirts when I was around nine, but nothing serious.
I began painting on clothing more seriously one day during art class. I accidentally dropped pink paint on my denim jacket. Since it was my favorite jacket, I decided to transform that little incident into art and something that represented me: I wrote ‘Girl Power’ on it, painted a bunch of things, and posted a video of it on my Instagram. When I wore it to school, let me tell you— people were obsessed. So, I started charging them for pieces.
How does your clothing brand empower you?
As an afro-Latina women, I never saw a lot representation of us growing up.
And I’ve always cared about representing minorities, women, immigrants, members of the LGBTQ+ community— groups who I’d seen be oppressed and discriminated against since I was young, both at home and abroad.
So when my teacher tried to kick my friend and me out of my class one day during junior year because we had curly hair (in a country with African descent – I know, it’s crazy) I decided that I could no longer let people try to define me. I started being even more myself and showing young women that no one can be you, and that’s what makes you unique, through clothing or otherwise.
I would definitely say that my art has evolved with the time: my parents have always allowed me to be myself and create whatever I wanted to. Even when I was 12 and drawing naked bodies, they never judged me. So I’ve always been allowed to grow as a person and, in turn, as an artist.
How do you hope your brand impacts young women?
I hope women realize that they don’t need to be submissive or do something just because society tells them to. We have the power to change the world, to change our future, and to do more than just “exist.”
To support and help each other instead of judge one another or bring ourselves down. I want them to know that this is just the beginning, and no matter what happens, to never stop believing in themselves, because we are the future.
How do you source your clothes?
I like to support local businesses — I try to get most of the clothing from smaller Dominican companies, though some of them are from online vintage stores, etc!
Do you have any role models or muses? Who or what inspires your art most?
Nature, music, places or things that not everyone thinks are “attractive”. Freckles, stretch marks, vitiligo, or what is not considered to be the “perfect body”: No one woman inspires me, we all inspire me.
WELCOMEEEE TO “SAINTS BY MAR” … ESPAÑOL/ENGLISH⤵ … Hola! Muchísimas gracias por TODO el apoyo que cada uno de ustedes me ha ofrecido. “Saints by Mar” empieza hoy, pero los que me conocen o me siguen desde hace mucho saben que eso no es de ahora. Este nuevo proyecto es más suyo que mío! Quiero darle las gracias a todos mis amigos, mis seguidores y a algunos de mis familiares por OBLIGARME (literalmente) a tomar este paso y abrir una tienda! Estoy super mega agradecida con ustedes por no rendirse conmigo,por su ayuda, por molestarme, por meterme presión para que saliera de mi zona de confort (y dejara la vagancia). Ustedes saben quienes son, y por ustedes hoy estoy donde estoy. A mis modelos,a los fotógrafos, a los que me siguen, los que me ofrecen su ayuda a cambio de nada, los que creen en mi y a todos los que me apoyan, desde el fondo de mi corazón GRACIAS! Los amo a cada uno de ustedes! … HEEEEYYY!! I wanna say THANK YOU! To every single one of you! To my friends, my family and all my followers. For believing, supporting and being with me every step of this journey. Today “Saints by Mar” is officially open to the public, but if you know me personally or have been following me for a while now, you know that i have been doing this for years. I LOVE EVERY SINGLE ONE OF YOU! From the bottom of my heart THANK YOU! For not giving up on me, and for making me do this. To my friends and my mom that forced (literally) me to do this, i appreciate you and sorry for taking this long! WELCOME AND ENJOY! xoxo
Where do you hope to take your brand?
I hope I can take it aaaaaall over the word! So that I can keep doing what I love, not because I have to but because I love it.
And where can we buy your designs?
You can find me on Instagram as “@maurinsantosl” and my store as “@Saintsbymar”. Direct message either page if you’d like to order something. I’m currently working on a website/online store so people can buy my pieces more easily. That’s coming soon!
You’ll find Maurin’s wearable designs available for purchase at @Saintsbymar‘s Instagram page. Her jeans go for $65, including shipping. She also does custom work.