A Pachuca was the name given to the Mexican-American women who formed part of the Pachuco subculture flourishing in the 1940s. The Pachuco subculture was birthed in the era of gangs within cities. One of the phrases that best integrate this era and Hispanic first-generation today is “Ni de Aqui, Ni de Alla,” meaning not from here nor there. It’s an identity frustration and a sense of unacceptance that many children of immigrants face.
The Pachucos weren’t embraced by their Mexican culture, or the older generation because of their association with street gangs and nightlife. They were also looked down upon by Anglo-American culture. In a time when the American people were told to ration fabric for the war effort during World War II, the Pachucos were seen as unpatriotic. Their wide pants and blazers were considered an insult to white European servicemen. The young Chicanos refused to change their look.
Women especially were looked down upon because of the masculine silhouettes and pants which were denounced by both cultures.
It wasn’t just the particular style, it was a lifestyle that provoked social norms. This mixture along with the racial tensions building up in the times and economic inequality in East L.A. led to the Pachucos to quickly become a target of racial attacks.
Although I am fully aware that I do not have ties to Pachuca culture since I am Dominican-American, it doesn’t invalidate the parallels to my story and identity journey.
More Importantly, we can’t disregard its fashion legacy. The Pachuca was romanticized as a strong and sassy woman who could look sensual in both a dress and zoot suit.
They are still remembered as the original badasses of Mexican-American integration.
The Pachuca aesthetic served as a gender shift that challenged the social norms of the zoot suit pants and masculine blazers that they wore. Visually, this is what attracted me the most. As someone who loves to wear clothing made for men, this sparked a new curiosity for work attire.
The Pachuca era symbolizes youth in revolt and swag.
The Latinx of this generation is making similar statements by rising against the anti-Mexican political climate that was felt then and now through empowering messages on clothing.
Bella Dona is owned by Chicanas LaLa Romero and Natalia Gold, this brand creates fashionable pieces that highlight brown identity and Latinx culture.
Would you like to see a Pachuca-inspired lookbook? Let me know in the comments below.