S.B. 1070-inspired fashions

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Mr. de la Renta? Oscar? This is Lola, from Arizona. We have a problem, and as a Latino immigrant and American mainstream fashion icon, you are uniquely positioned to help.

A new law in our state has been passed to help fix our broken border. This is fine and dandy, but … to enforce this new piece of legislation, law enforcement agents will have to use their sixth sense to determine if there is “reasonable suspicion” to believe people they come into contact with are in the country illegally.

Racial profiling is illegal and our governor insists that we won’t be stopped simply because of the color of our skin. But the question remains: What constitutes “reasonable suspicion”?

Califa’s Republican Congressman Brian Bilbray is on national TV saying that trained professionals can identify illegal aliens just by looking at their clothes. He says, “They will look at the kind of dress you wear, there is different type of attire, there is different type of … right down to the shoes …” What happened to “Don’t judge a book by its cover”?

Many of us law-abiding citizens may simply, because of our attire, awaken (un)reasonable suspicion.

Like my cousin Lety in her Virgen de Guadalupe tee with white patent-leather shoes, which she wears year round, mind you. Oh, and she can’t leave the house without the matching, knockoff Chanel handbag. Or my primo Beto, who can’t live without his bedazzled cowboy belt. He even owns a pair of snakeskin cowboy boots complete with the cobra head attached to the tip of the boot. I kid you not. He paid $1,200 for them.

Someone’s fashion crimes may be another’s personal style and cultural pride. (I know, I know.) Yet ethnic-inspired fashion in the WASP world is acceptable. In Arizona, any other cultural group may now be targeted for an ethnic-fashion faux pas.

FYI, Lety and Beto were born here. But they don’t look any different from many people who may be here sin papeles. It would be a drag – humiliating, really – if we were to be stopped, questioned or even arrested for not carrying our papers. What if the officers suspect our IDs are fake, like Lety’s handbag?!

So, this is where you come in: A de la Renta, off-the-rack fashion line inspired by S.B. 1070. Combine what may seem to be irreconcilable tastes and styles: the cultural, aesthetic elements favored by the Letys and Betos of Arizona, but with a reversible or convertible component of sorts that would allow us to “pass” the “reasonable suspicion” test. Think L.L. Bean meets La Perrona, things that can be worn one way in safe territory and then switched when entering hostile grounds.

How about reversible tees with the Virgen on one side and Rosy the Riveter on the other? Or a ranchero belt buckle that doubles as a cell phone holster, or cowboy boots that convert to Doc Martins with a swift stomp – poomf! Down slips the rubber-soled boot.

Oscar, we need you. Because like my mom says, “Como te ven te tratan.”

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