SANTA MUERTE TRADING CO.
ECLECTIC VINTAGE STYLE
Santa Muerte Trading Co. is a southern California based vintage clothing company with the most impeccable taste. We first saw co-founder Crystal Landeros some years back at a Viva Las Vegas weekender and have been mesmerized by her style evolution ever since. She demands attention with her beautiful Mexican movie star looks characterized by her voluptous shape, raven-haired bob, hypnotic green/blue eyes and constant, mysterious smirk. However, it certainly does not stop there. Her clothing ensembles are standout with various looks including brightly printed vintage blousons, 40’s palazzo pants, dramatic dresses, vintage t-shirts and jeans, colorful head scarves, bakelite jewelry, espadrilles and her signature Chimayo touches. And partner/fiance, Anthony Rosas, is not shy with his own personal style. He’s a sharply dressed gentleman, mixing high-waisted vintage gabardine trousers with 40’s horsehide leather jackets, and accessorizing with neck scarves and old school hats. Anthony is also a very talented photographer, who keenly documents all of Crystal’s fabulous looks amongst luscious and colorful, sunny California backdrops. And this is Santa Muerte Trading Co. All photographs courtesy of Anthony Rosas/Spanish Dagger Photography.
Follow their fabulous vintage looks and photography on Instagram at: santa_muerte_trading_co & mrs_california_sweetheart.
PONYBOY: Crystal and Anthony, please tell us about your backgrounds.
SANTA MUERTE: We are both first generation Mexican American, born and raised in Southern California.
PONYBOY: How and when did you start getting into vintage clothing?
SANTA MUERTE: We both began our love affair in our mid-teens, and, of course, have continued learning through the years.
PONYBOY: How did the two of you meet?
SANTA MUERTE: That’s an interesting question! We met on a social media invite several years ago. The invitation was for Crystal’s 18th birthday celebration. She came up to me and complimented my glasses. After that, I worked up the courage, requested my favorite bolero and asked her to dance. The rest is one for the books. Haha!
PONYBOY: Why did you name your company after Santa Muerte?
SANTA MUERTE: We both share a fascination with memento mori artifacts, folklore, and our culture/religion. Being both Catholic, we agreed on the name due to La Santa Muerte being associated with protection, healing and safe delivery.
PONYBOY: Where in California are you based?
SANTA MUERTE: We are based in Compton, Los Angeles county.
PONYBOY: You primarily seem inspired by the 1930’s-40’s decades. Is this correct? And, where do you both find this inspiration?
SANTA MUERTE: Yes! We are enamored with 1930’s and 1940’s Americana. There is something so sweet about that generation. The culture, architecture and fashion is a main component in our style inspiration. We love browsing through old catalogs and photograph’s in search of period street fashions with an edge. Cinema, individuals, and our city also play a very important part.
PONYBOY: Crystal, you have a certain elegant style, not unlike a Hollywood film star from back in the day, even while wearing a vintage t-shirt and jeans, and with the accessories that you throw into your looks when photographed. Have you always had this sort of chic, nonchalant sense of fashion?
SANTA MUERTE: I hear it quite often, but I’ve never thought of myself as elegant. Thank you. I’m humbled. Since I was a teenager I’ve always looked for inspiration through old photographs and films from the golden age of Mexican cinema. In my personal style, I try to reflect the style of all the beautiful women of that era but with my own flair, of course. I tend to work with the staples of women’s vintage, incorporating rare pieces as well. There is also so much beauty in simplicity. And I never liked the idea of falling into a traditional look.
PONYBOY: Anthony, your own personal style is very strong as well. Were you born with this innate approach to men’s dressing?
SANTA MUERTE: Thank you. As far as I can recall, I’ve had a certain attraction to shapes, lines, contours and color. My personal style continues to evolve as I find more vintage inspiration. I feel the key to my style is to keep things simple, tasteful with period items and express with a hint of flair.
PONYBOY: Over the years, has it become more difficult to find these incredible vintage gems that you both wear and sell?
SANTA MUERTE: Yes, we can truly say high-end desirable vintage has dissipated over the years. Our passion for such rareties is the motivation behind our late night online searches and early A.M. flea market hunts.
PONYBOY: Anthony, we love the incredible photos that you take of Crystal. Your photography is very powerful in terms of composition, angles, colorful backdrops, etc. Is this something that you studied, or did it come naturally from being a hobby?
SANTA MUERTE: Thank you, that means a lot! My photography began as a way to promote items and our personal style. I tend to go on instinct. For me, natural light is key. I look at my surroundings for inspiration. The detail of my subject will always define the beauty of my photography. As far as color, it’s king, of course. I’m very passionate about vibrancy and saturation.
PONYBOY: Is there a sense of community in the Los Angeles/California vintage world? We see photos of all of you dressed in incredible vintage wear at parties, functions, etc. Does it ever get competitive with other sellers/collectors?
SANTA MUERTE: There is a sense of unity here in California amongst vintage aficionados. We don’t see it as competition. We’re glad that vintage will be appreciated by friends and collectors alike. After all, we share the same passion.
PONYBOY: Do you sell exclusively online? Where can one find your product?
SANTA MUERTE: We vend at vintage pop-up events here in Southern California and occasionally flea markets, when we know there will be a certain clientele in town looking for specifically 1920’s through 1950’s vintage fashions. Most of our higher ticket items go online (Etsy, e-Bay, and private collectors) or to international vintage collectors. The demand is quite high overseas.
PONYBOY: What can we expect from the two of you, professionally speaking, in the near future? Styling, wardrobing/costume design, or a shop perhaps?
SANTA MUERTE: Santa Muerte is currently working on a 1940’s period reproduction clothing line for men and women, as well as a few collaboration projects. We both have experience being personal stylists, something we will be taking on a professional level very soon.
PONYBOY: And far as personally, we read that you are engaged. Do you have a date set? And do you yearn for a family?
SANTA MUERTE: Yes, we’re engaged. Planning the wedding has been quite time consuming, but we’re getting there. Anthony has a son from a previous relationship, and we both agree that’s all we need for now. But plans are always subjected to change.