Private business expands to European market

CUBA STANDARD — Havana-based fashion label Clandestina opened an e-commerce website catering to European customers, with fulfillment and shipping done from Madrid.

Run by thirty-somethings Leire Fernández and Idania del Río, the private business is known for its tongue-in-cheek marketing. True to style, the bilingual website offers instructions in Spanish and Basque to its European buyers.

“We suspect you will like it”, the company said in announcing the new e-commerce platform.

The Clandestina team

Clandestina has been operating a similar website for the U.S. market since 2017. Circumventing U.S. sanctions, t-shirts ordered through were made, stored and shipped within the United States, the company said when it opened the website.

The company also runs a website for domestic online sales, The operations of that site were disrupted temporarily at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 when the U.S. company whose software ran the e-commerce platform of the website bailed out with no warning.

The business has IT friends in high places, though. In 2018, Clandestina launched a new clothing line with support from Google, “to celebrate the increasing opportunities and improving connectivity in Cuba”. The collection was titled País en Construcción, or Country Under Construction.

“Clandestina has always been at the forefront of what’s possible,” said Susanna Kohly Jacobson, Google Cuba’s head of marketing, at the time.

The Google Chrome T-Rex icon, which pops up when there is no Internet connection, has been a frequent feature on Clandestina products.

“We’re excited about what increased connectivity means for our team, and for Cuba,” said Del Río, “but it also means we’re spending more time online and seeing our T-Rex friend less and less.”

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