Originally posted on 74 FOOTWEAR DESIGN CONSULTING:
For those not familiar with Christopher McDougall’s book “Born to Run”, the Ultra Caballo Blanco is a unique 50 mile ultra marathon that offers runners from anywhere in the world the incredible opportunity to run with the local Raramuris, “the light-footed ones”.
15 years ago when I first heard about the Raramuri/Tarahumara, meeting them and experiencing their culture was nothing more than a dream, or at best something reserved only for anthropologists and the most adventurous traveller, both of which I was not.
But today from the Chepe train station town of Bahuichivo in Chihuahua, getting to Urique is only a slightly adventurous 55km, but very beautiful 4 hour switchback bus ride to the bottom of the Urique Canyon,
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During a recent visit to the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto I was very privileged visit their archives and photograph these very old Men’s Zapatilla Huaraches from Uruapan, circa 1910.
Men’s Zapatilla Huaraches Courtesy of the Bata Shoe Museum, Toronto.
They immediately reminded me of 15th Century Poulaine European footwear and also of the recent Mexican fashion of Botas Picudas – Pointed Boots.
I wish to thank everyone at the Bata Shoe Museum for a very special visit.
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Every 12th of September the Mexican town of Sahuayo in Michoacan, Mexico hosts it annual Huarache competition.
The competition is organized by the local government to celebrate the Mexican tradition and craft of Huarache footwear.
A Huarachero checking out the competition.
Ing. Oscar Casillas the Director of Sustainable Development for the town of Sahuayo and organizer of the 6th Huarache Competition. He did ask me if I was going to enter, but I had forgotten to bring any of my designs..Maybe next year..
This year Antonio Granadas who is probably one of the best, if not the best Huarachero in the world, created a “Zapato Huarache” design with his signature diamond pattern design. His design won first prize.
Its worth mentioning that the upper design of woven Huaraches is not prepared flat and then pulled around a last and glued like regular woven footwear.
Woven Huaraches are made by weaving a single strip of leather sequentially into the holes in the sole. The pattern slowly emerges as the weave goes back and forth through the various holes in the sole. If at any point the leather strip is not woven correctly, the whole design ends distorted and must be unwoven up to the point where the mistake was made and can be corrected.
My personal winner Huarache design was this “Petatillo” done with a more open weave, by Efrain Chavez.
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Tuxpan in Southern Jalisco is a small town well known for its Tacos “Tuxpenos” and less known for its unique Mid-Cut Huarache style and the artisanal maguey liquour (formerly known as Mescal, before the appellation of origin (DO) from the World Intellectual Property Organization in 1995 limited the commercial use of the the word Mezcal to only 8 states in Mexico).
Nowadays there is so little demand for the Tuxpan Huarache “Tejido con Talonera Alta” that it can only be made on to order by the only remaining Huarachero in Tuxpan, Armando Ortiz, whose other styles can also be seen in The Huarache Directory HERE
Its possible that maguey harvesting may have encouraged the creation of this high collar style.