An 8-year-old boy clutched a disposable camera outside of a house in Coachella Valley. Directing his little sister, dressed in an outfit of his picking, he snapped her photo and, after development, proudly pinned it to her bedroom wall.
More than a decade later, fourth-year sociology student Isauro Meza and Shadow Hills High School senior Silvia Meza, have transformed their dress-up days into a real-life fashion show.
The two founded Iota Haus, a unisex clothing brand that reflects the popular festival style seen at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, which includes crop tops and patterned rompers. The siblings will host a fashion show Sunday to display their Coachella-style clothing.
The ticketed show will take place in the Rose Garden of the Empire Polo Club in Indio, California and is open to the public. The models will walk through a maze of roses to exhibit the fashion line. Five musical acts will perform, including Indio locals Alchemy, and the event will also feature live art displays.
Silvia Meza said their clothing represents the style worn at Coachella Festival, which she has attended four times. Meza said she is drawn to the festival’s personalized, custom look, but that clothing stores in the Valley are limited in their fashion options.
“There was nothing I could find in the Valley that would appeal to my look,” Meza said, “so I decided to make my own brand.”
Isauro Meza said the majority of the line displayed at the event is exclusive. As each article is handcrafted – for example, a crochet top – many pieces have no replica.
“The clothing takes inspiration from the flowers and plants that are in the desert,” Meza said. “The color schemes that we are working with are all neutral.”
This is the first time that the polo grounds have been used to release a local fashion brand, said Isauro Meza. The Rose Garden, used as the VIP section during the music festival, is an exclusive venue and difficult to book, he said.
“We were hoping for the best,” Meza said. “This ‘yes’ means the world to us. It didn’t make any sense for us to make clothes without giving people the chance to experience them.”
Meza said what he believes ultimately helped them secure the space was their Spring/Summer line video, which was released March 25. The owner of the grounds saw the video, then allowed the brand to book the location and has since helped with organizing the event.
A group of people from Coachella Valley and students at UCLA helped shoot the first Iota Haus fashion video at the end of winter quarter in Joshua Tree National Park, Meza said. He wanted it to resemble a moving catalog and to capture the essence of the desert around them.
Monica Mirai Matsuda, a third-year linguistics and psychology student, participated in the video as a model for the upcoming season’s clothes. Matsuda met Isauro Meza studying abroad in Italy, and as her father is involved in the fashion industry, she was interested in becoming involved in Iota Haus.
It was easy for the group to choose Joshua Tree as the location because the desert helps represent the brand’s roots, she said.
“They are really fun clothes,” Matsuda said. “They are very simple but also have a lot of interesting detail to them, making them special.”
Matsuda said she will not be modeling at the event but will attend in order to see what she helped create.
Silva and Isauro both said the main goal of the event is to show the local community that small-town kids can dream big and have the opportunity to express art.
“We want the kids from the Valley that come from low-income or different backgrounds to say, ‘Hey, they are the face of this major company. I can be the face of whatever I want to be too,’” Isauro Meza said.