FIRST ARRIVALS – The úkata “Cien Clavos” by Huaraches Martínez – The Finest Work Huaraches in MexicoPosted: March 11, 2013
BACK IN STOCK!
úkata is proud to offer their first Huaraches for sale.
The “Cien Clavos” Huaraches are made by José Martínez from the small town of Mazamitla, nestled in the pine covered hills of the Sierra Tigre in Southern Jalisco. José Martínez is continuing in the footsteps of his father and grandfather, making the same traditional Huarache designs. A true craftsman, he works alone finishing one, or sometimes 2 pairs per day, while organically tanning his own leathers using mimosa tree bark.
The “Cien Clavos” or “Hundred Nails” design is so called because of the many nails used in the sole. The character of the “Cien Clavos” isn’t trend driven so you’ll never grow tired of this unique Huarache design. The Huarache upper unlike that of other footwear will only get better with age, as the vegetable tanned full grain leather slowly forms to your foot shape and gains a rich golden honey patina over time.
Made in the traditional Huarache way, the ”Cien Clavos” is entirely hand cut without cutting dies. The upper is lined using a pedal powered leather sewing machine, after which it is nailed to a wooden mesquite last where it is hand woven into the insole using only a single strip of leather cut from the center of the hide. A continuous leather strip that is cut and skived freehand and yet with incredible precision from years of practice. The sole is made from a reclaimed truck tire which José Martínez thins down, cuts and washes before nailing to the woven Huarache upper (the nails provide a very strong hold so no glue is used to join the sole). Unlike other Huaraches, the “Cien Clavos” has a closed heel which was originally used for horse riding, and the vamp partially covers the toes which makes the Huaraches an interesting shoe/sandal hybrid.
The “Cien Clavos” Huarache is a signature Martínez design and is made in very limited quantities. You will not find market or souvenir huaraches of a comparable quality and design. Nor will you likely find footwear crafted by the same artisan who also tans their own leather anywhere in the world.
Introducing Señor José Martínez the Master Huarachero and maker of the one of a kind “Cien Clavos” Huaraches.
By purchasing úkata Huaraches, you will be championing talented Huarachero artisans for their incredible handmade footwear, that is also gentle to the environment and deep rooted in Mexican history.
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Presenting úkata, Huarache Blog’s online store selling rare Huarache designs crafted by the most skilled artisans.
The name úkata means ‘craft’ in Purepecha an ancient language from Central Mexico where Huarache Blog began. Fittingly the indigenous Mexican Purepecha are considered the finest craftspeople in Mexico and are especially well known for their weaving abilities.
úkata hopes to offer readers around the world the opportunity to wear and experience the best Huaraches. Unique footwear where both leather and design are handcrafted, in some special cases by the same artisan. Timeless footwear design that has been made the same way by the Huarachero and his family for 2, 3 and sometimes 4 generations.
úkata aims to support Huaracheros by selling their Huaraches in periods of low sales and in limited quantities, so as not to disrupt any existing trade which they maintain with existing long term retail partners.
Talented Huaracheros who are being sidelined by the rise of branded factory footwear, increasing costs of leather and the declining prices of the local Huarache market. úkata will promote their craftsmanship to a global audience with the long term objective to help elevate the craft of Huaraches by selling only the finest examples. Increasing exposure and demand for high quality Huarache design to encourage highly skilled artisans continue refining their craft and grow their business, hiring employees and passing down their Huarache making knowledge to future generations.
Because sometimes Huaraches can also be for scrolling.
A new Huarache Blog Tumblr page for old and new images of traditional Mexican Footwear, from Huarache Blog and from the web.
Check out http://huaracheblog.tumblr.com/
A few weeks ago Huarache Blog published some Dolce & Gabbana photos of runway models wearing woven “Tejido” Huarache designs which were part of the 2013 Men’s Summer Collection.
It’s always interesting to see international brands using traditional Mexican Huarache inspiration in their footwear line.
Below is a first look at the Dolce & Gabbana Vesuvio Woven Crust and Leather Sandals which will be available this coming March 31st.
For more international brand Huarache inspiration check out my other posts titled :-
According to Mexican designer Alejandro Curi every year 25 million vehicle tyres are thrown away in Mexico alone, of which only 5% is recycled. The former FIT design student saw the great potential of re-purposing such a high quality and abundant material and so developed the Kwarachi Machine.
Kwarachi Machine is project where press and sole cutting dies would be placed in marginalized and impoverished areas around Mexico, where many still cannot afford shoes. Such a set up would provide locals with a basic resource that they could use to make their own Huarache Footwear, but which they could also use to make Huaraches to start a small business and generate income.
The idea of providing a common use cutting press and cutting die is interesting because it could provide unskilled craftspeople a tool to create a quality cut sole. This is would be especially valuable today as most Radial tyres have steel wires running through them, making hand cutting with a knife impossible.
Don Miguel is a car mechanic and part time Huarachero.
Because making Huaraches is currently a low paying and unstable profession to be in, as with many talented Huarachero’s in Mexico Don Miguel has had to look for work elsewhere.
But in his spare time Don Miguel still continues weaving leather Huaraches as he has been doing for the last 60 years.
The small farming town of San Gabriel sits on fertile plains just North of the Nevado de Colima. Market day is on Monday when the locals stock up with their week’s supplies. The market however doesn’t sell Huaraches. For those, the people of San Gabriel go to the workshop of Manuel and Ramon Rodriguez the last remaining Huaracheros in San Gabriel.
Their ‘Petatillo’ Huaraches design has a regional brick weave design different from the ‘Petatillo’ Huarache from the southern Guadalajara area.
The ‘Aranita’ Huarache.
The ‘Aranita’ Huarache design comes in different leather weave thicknesses depending on use and price.
Another ‘Petatillo’ Huarache variant.
A ‘Zapatilla’ Huarache.
And two ‘Petatillo al Reves’ Huaraches.
All of the Rodriguez’s Huarache designs also come in children’s sizes.
Women’s styles include the ‘Mariposa’ Huaraches
and the ‘Cadena’ Huaraches, all made strictly from one continuous leather weave.
San Gabriel makes a nice day trip especially on Monday market day and while you’re there be sure to visit the Huarache workshop of Manuel y Ramon Rodriguez a few blocks from the central plaza at:-
San Gabriel, Jalisco
For orders and further information contact Manuel y Ramon Rodriguez Blas at Tel: 343.427.0298.
Nestled into the Sierra Norte mountains of Oaxaca is the small town of Yalalag.
Yalalag is very precious World Heritage site, not only for it’s strong Pre-Hispanic traditions, but also because like only a handful of other small towns in Mexico, most of the Yalalag population is still dedicated to the traditional craft of Huarache making.
Huaracheria Aquino is the largest ‘Taller’ workshop in Yalalag and they are well known for their high quality Zapotec Huaraches.
What also sets this family run business apart from most other Huarache makers in Mexico is that their crafting process begins at their in-house tannery, where they vegetable tan all their leathers to their precise specifications.
Huaracheria Aquino is famous for their traditional women’s Zapotec Yalalag sandals (the only existing traditional women’s leather sandal/huarache style in Mexico).
Photo of young Zapotec Woman in Mitla, by Guy Stresser-Péan, 1957
Their ‘Tejido’ Huarache also stands out for the fine attention to detail.
And the ‘Cincho Forado’ Huarache is the finest of its kind.
Interestingly the seemingly modern thermoplastic coated “Oscaria” leather which is very popular in this area of Mexico has been used for over 40 years.
Inside the Aquino ‘Taller’ workshop hangs a framed picture of the Aquino Great-grandfather and founder of Huaracheria Aquino.
It’s not uncommon for Huaracheros to still use lasts that are over 80 years old. The wooden lasts are made of Mesquite not only because it was once the most readily available material with which to make lasts, but because the Mesquite does not expand very much from contact with the wet leather.
Most Huaracheros still prefer using wooden lasts to plastic because they say there is reduced bounce when ‘asentando’ (hammering to flatten the leather upper to the last) .
To contact Huaracheria Aquino directly please visit their Facebook page, or email them at email@example.com.
Señor Alfaro is 70 years old and the last Huarachero in Sayula, Jalisco. Although his woven Huaraches have won him awards in regional craft competitions, today like may Huaracheros his business has become very difficult. Although Señor Alfaro has done very well to stay in a trade where many have quit, he melancholically tells me that Huarache making is a craft headed for extinction and that he has advised all his family not to get into it.
Sadly most towns in Mexico have at most one Huarachero left, whereas 30 years ago each town used to have many. Señor Alfaro told me that at one time 90% of Sayula locals wore Huaraches and 10% wore shoes, today that ratio is inverted and only 10% wear Huaraches.
But besides the reduced consumer base, there are 2 major difficulties facing skilled Huaracheros today, the rising costs of vegetable tanned leather and rubber tyres, and that very few Mexicans are prepared to pay the equivalent of US$30-US$60 for footwear, especially if it isn’t branded.
But if you’re looking for some new high quality Huaraches and want to learn more about how they’re crafted, Señor Alejandro Alfaro Ramirez’s welcomes you to visit his ‘Taller’ workshop only a few blocks from the main Plaza in Sayula, Jalisco.
The workshop is located at:-
Prisciliano Sanchez No.160
Sayula, Jalisco, Mexico
Remember that you won’t find any Huaraches made as finely as Señor Alejandro Alfaro Ramirez’s in any Mexican Market or High Street.
Some of Señor Alfaro’s Huarache designs include the ‘Finito Recargado’. Notice how every weave on the vamp overlaps the next.
Simpler ‘Recargado’ Huaraches with ‘adornos’ detailing. As well as complex weaves many Huaraches used to be embellished with stitching and rivets (some as big as a nickel). Such Huaraches were sometimes referred to as “para domiguear”, which loosely translated means “to Sunday in”.
Some ‘Arañita’ Huaraches
And ‘Zapatilla’ Huaraches
For their Spring Summer 2013 menswear collection, Dolce and Gabbana have chosen to revisit Domenico’s Sicilian roots .
But their vintage styled collection also includes some Mexican ‘Tejido’ Huarache sandals.
In fact the flavours of Mexico today are probably very similar to those of old Italy 60 years ago. Anyone who like me missed out on experiencing Italy in the 1950′s would do very well to take a trip to Mexico today, or sometime soon. And maybe buy yourself a nice pair of Huaraches a season ahead of fashion.