The Colombia native’s signature ruffles and off-the-shoulder silhouettes perfectly capture the spirit of Latin America and have resonated with industry insiders and consumers alike. Ortiz’s use of vibrant colours and feminine silhouettes have proved commercially successful, earning her worldwide stockists and a loyal clientele base.
The designer has become something of a fashion ambassador for Colombia and has been invited to show her collections at the White House in Washington and the United Nations in New York. She is currently expanding into new categories, having made a bridalwear debut. The brand is now available across more than 30 countries via 67 luxury online & brick-and-mortar retailers across the world. The brand produces 54,000 garments and employs 390 people in Cali, Colombia.
2014 stood out as a milestone year as it ignited the definition of the essence, aesthetic and identity of the brand. It came with the first collection JO presented abroad, the same year Moda Operandi released on its online platform, which opened the doors to the international market.
The namesake label also a Sustainability Committee and focuses on producing locally, creating quality jobs, investing in peoples development and building long-term relationships that allow them to grow in partnership with their artisans and vendors. Ortiz also launched “Escuela Johanna Ortiz”, an onsite training program founded in 2016 to develop professional-level seamstress and high-end embroidery skills, enhance talent and promote the inclusion of vulnerable communities’, to improve their quality of life and create personal empowerment.
Ortiz studied fashion design in Florida, graduating from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale with honours before returning to Colombia to start her namesake couture label in 2001. It wasn’t until 2014 that she started showing at Colombiamoda in Medellin and Circulo de la Moda in Bogota — two of the country’s biggest fashion weeks — and was met with critical acclaim. The following year, she took the label global with an exclusive collection for Moda Operandi, and today is stocked at some of the world’s top retailers including Neiman Marcus, Lane Crawford, Bergdorf Goodman and Net-a-Porter.
Ortiz is proud of her heritage, which has a strong influence on her creative aesthetic. In an effort to give back to the community, her label places high priority on working with indigenous communities and women in Colombia.