Miahuatlán is an important commercial center 2 hours west from Oaxaca. Market day is Monday and most of the town center is fills up with stalls. In Miahuatlán the cross-strap Huaraches are the most popular style. They are known as Huaraches ‘Acapulceños’, or Huaraches ‘Oaxaqueños’ and their price ranges from the 40 Pesos rubber Huarache ‘de campo’, to the 400 Pesos finely crafted variety.
Most men around Miahuatlán wear this leather Huarache version below.
There are also fashion styles like this Huarache made using Denim. Like Huaraches in Huetamo Michoacan, this is an interesting design direction by Senor Roberto the Huarachero, to attract new consumers.
And there are also crafted versions like this Huarache ‘con pelo’, made local Huarachero Senor Galdino, with a finely braided border detail.
In Miahuatlán cross-strap Huaraches come in many shapes and sizes, for adults and children.
Both with delicate details and heavy duty construction.
In the south of Guanajuato State is the agricultural area know as The Bajío (lowlands).
The Huaraches and Burras for sale at the main Market in Irapuato were mainly from neighboring Michoacan.
20 minutes further east in Salamanca, Huaraches also mostly came from Michoacan.
In Celaya there was a broad selection of Huaraches from central and eastern Mexico.
These ‘Petatillo’ Huaraches from nearby Dolores Hidalgo.
The ‘Armadillo’ Huaraches is sold in 2 versions, one open and one closed.
A common style around the Bajío is the ‘Capellada’ Huarache (Capellada means ‘Vamp’).
In Acámbaro the ‘Capellada’ Huarache is also sold closed.
The Mexican newspaper Despertar Del Sur recently published an article titled ‘Los Rojas, de Huetamo, dinastia de huaracheros’ (click on title to link to the original article in Spanish – clic el titulo para el link al artículo original en español), written by Ángel Ramírez Ortuño. The article offers a brief but good insight into the Huarache industry on a local level.
The article is about the Los Rojas a Huarachero family in a small but important Huarachero community in Huetamo, Michoacan. Its worth mentioning that even today one Huarache style made in Huetamo is easily recognized for its distinct style. It’s similar to the ‘Arana’, but the leather strips over the forefoot hook around each other and turn back towards the sole instead of crossing right over the foot. Below is a photo a this style of Huarache from Huetamo.
According to the article the Los Rojas Family drove the change to use new colours and materials to meet the fashion demands of consumers. Below is an example of this, a ‘Camo’ textile version as sold at the local Market in Iguala, Guerrero. An inspired attempt to innovate and evolve the traditional Huarache design.
Below is a translation of the article ‘Los Rojas, de Huetamo, dinastia de huaracheros’ :-
Huetamo, Michoacan. The Huarache industry in Huetamo is a mainstay of the lean local economy and is highlighted through three generations of Rojas family members and current owners of Huarachería ‘La Herencia’ (The Inheritance), which in 60 years has remained relevant, progressive and successful despite being the focus of the jealousy from those known as ‘Poquiteros’ i.e. the traditional huaracheros still working in a rudimentary way (from the Mexican word ‘Poquitero’ meaning ‘person with small business’).
In the Los Rojas huarache dynasty the name of Jose Rojas Villaseñor stands out, the industry pioneer in the family he is followed by his son Pedro Rojas Ballesteros and the family extends further with his grandson Pedro Rojas Cardenas who has his own workshop on the street Alvaro Obregon 43, in Colonia El Terrero, which is where we are discussing the details of this traditional industry comprised of leather, rubber and staples.
Rojas Ballesteros explains that one day they decided to restructure and change the old beams of the huarachería. “so I did as Marco Antonio Solis did, I was in the bathroom thinking what new things to do and out came ideas for new materials, new designs and colors, which made us leaders in the local market, but also the center of the ‘Poquiteros’s’ envy, that is those still working well within the conformity.”
“My experience in the huarache business began at age seven”, Ballesteros adds, “and that’s when I learned about tanning, the cascalote tree, the piles of hides at the rivers edge and the leather trade. All of which allowed the development of the old stapled sandals with tire rubber sole and the vegetable tanned cowhide strips of leather. Sandals, which contrasted red coloured strips with natural white leather colour and all which were woven by the expert hands of formidable local huaracheros working with us.”
“Then came the changes with the ‘Oscaria’ leather huarache, whose leather had already been treated and it became fashionable, then patent leather became fashionable and when I was 10 years old it was the cross-front sandal and with crossed straps, followed by the ‘doblillado’ with padded sole. All were made using genuine bovine leather until the design change came in the 2005 when the first coloured Huarache sandals appeared.”
“However all our efforts to offer better quality Huaraches to our consumers were unfortunately copied by other local huaracheros who copied our designs and lowered the price on the market. Remember that developing new colors gave us a lot more work since not all coloured leather is good to make ‘correa’ leather strip for Huaraches and in modernizing we also used new leathers such as ostrich skin which can cost of up to five thousand pesos.”
“We also worked with iguana skin, but realized that it was an endangered animal meant coming into problems so we decided to leave it. Now we only have four full-time workers all weavers, while my son and I will take care of skin cuts and rubber and for distribution and sales we have three shops in Huetamo.”
“We know competition will become increasingly hard, but with all the efforts that we have made so far we have not needed to get any funding and we shall persist in this way. That’s the difference between us and others, since we are independent.”
At the end of the talk Pedro Rojas Cardenas, the third in Rojas family line gives us his local phone number (453) 556 37 68 and also his web page www.huaracheshuetamo.com
This Huaracherria at the Mercado has been open for 73 years! Sitting on the left of the photo is the original owner. His son runs the business now and another son runs a second Huaracherria a few stores down.
These must be the oldest Huaraches I have ever seen.
Amongst their Huarache designs was a sturdy man’s ‘Spiga’ Huarache.
A ‘Cerrado’ Huarache.
Below is the ‘Siete’ Huarache. It is a ‘Petatillo’ design with presumably seven vueltas.
The white chrome leather treatment is popular with the local indigenous Purepecha, coincidentally this is also the case with the Huichol further north. Its seems that the reason is that chrome tanned leather does not stretch and deform when wet, so it is preferable for wearing in the field.
This ‘Tejido’ Huarache design is from near Uruapan.
Another Huarache that uses white chrome leather leather is the ‘Tepatitlan’ Huarache most often worn by Huichol men in Jalisco, Nayarit and Durango. The Huarache style is also known as the ‘Colores Patrios’ from the Mexican flag. I have wondered if this Huarache design was originally intended to include the colours of the Mexican flag and if Huichol men are aware of this?
The ‘Rienda’ Huarache is another original design made by the same local Huarachero who made the ‘Cruzado’ and ‘Tejido’ styles from the last post.
And an interesting women´s Huarache design.
Huaraches in Zamora, Michoacan mainly come from Sahuayo that is located only a few hours west. However there were 2 styles from Sahuayo that I had not seen before.
These black ones are a wide strip twist on the `Cruzado´ style.
This ‘Petatillo’ Huarache was dyed with motor oil and quite similar to another pair I picked up in Sahuayo.
There were also 2 local styles that are made at a local ‘rancho’ which I found very interesting for their weave and toe shape.
Notice the heel piece construction is external like Burras.