If you’re heading to Havana, Cuba a number of things are probably on your must see/try list including Cuban cigars, rum and classic cars.
Finding fabulous upcycled tank tops may not be on your Cuban to do list, but it should be and Clandestina is the place to go. In fact, a full 80 percent of the products you’ll discover at Clandestina are created out of recycled items.
At Clandestina you’ll come across wicked cool poster prints by artists like Gabriel Lara, Giselle Monzon Calero, Edel Rodriguez and Zardoyas (some of Ramiro Zardoya Sánchez’s prints can also be found at Conner Gorry‘s Cuba Libro in Vedado) in addition to reworked tees, keychains and hats. Every item you come across in Clandestina is designed and manufactured in Cuba.
The diverse array of products in Clandestina all share a common thread.
In addition to being Cuban made, just about every item you come across in Clandestina is contemporary, playful and beautifully designed. Clandestina’s Vintrashe Collection takes vintage clothes that people in other nations might consider trash and spins old clothes into modern hip clothing items. One of my favorite fashion finds at Clandestina were its one of a kind reworked drawstring shorts.
One example of a funky twist on Cuban culture are the collares sold at Clandestina. Across Cuba it’s common to see practitioners of Santeria dressed head to toe in white clothing with the only pops of color being their jewelry. If you wander down Muralla Street in Old Havana on your way to or from Clandestina, you’re bound to come across traditional religious stalls selling brightly colored Santeria collares and bracelets.
Every color and each combination represents a different orisha (a saint or guardian angel) from the Santeria faith. Clandestina has taken a unique twist on the highly revered Cuban personal shrine by adding adorable plastic pendants to each of its collares.
We also fell in love with many of the other small items they sell from notebooks and clutches…
…to cute pins and visually stunning artwork.
Clandestina’s flagship store is located a couple blocks away from the Capitol. They also operate a small outpost called La Cuevita located inside Fabrica de Arte Cubano.
Putting aside the fact that we happily would have brought home one of everything from Clandestina (dang you carry on luggage), there was one item in particular that we were really enamored with.
The $6.00 CUC handkerchiefs they sell at Clandestina come in a fabulous map print that features some of Havana’s hottest restaurants, bars and shops. (Clandestina also offers free versions of the paper maps at their cash register.) Which, come to think of it, is how we stumbled across another fabulous shop called Cris-Cris located almost kitty corner from Clandestina. You’d never expect a bandana map to lead to hidden fashion treasures in Havana, but then again, you always get more than you pay for at Clandestina.
Villegas 403 e/ Teniente Rey y Muralla (On Villegas Between Teniente Rey and Muralla Street)
Old Havana (Habana Vieja), Cuba
Hours: Monday Through Saturday 10:00am to 8:00pm, Sunday 10:00am to 5:00pm
Pricing (All in Cuban Convertible Pesos or CUC): Bandanas/Handkerchiefs $6.00, Totes $20.00, Sequined Toy Tanks ~$20.00, Upcycled Shorts $15.00