Nowadays brightly colored Huaraches are quite normal, but in 2010 when I first arrived in Mexico all Huaraches were either tan, or chocolate brown color..Sure there was also the Green, White and Red style worn by Wixarika, but unbelievably Huarache design didn’t include bright colours.
If 8 years ago you asked any artisan to make colored Huaraches and they would reply skeptically that “colored Huaraches looked strange and were not commercial”. I thought maybe because they were still mostly focusing on men’s styles.
And it was almost impossible to find affordable colored vegetable tanned leather in Mexico, because there was little to no demand for it.
Then around 2013, I noticed some bright purple and turquoise hand painted leather women’s Huarache styles. Despite admiring the improvised tenacity of Anukia, my first impression was that hand painting the natural colored tan leather looked crude and made the Huaraches look coated and unrefined.
But the result was a surprising massive colorful explosion of leather weaves, mostly in the Huarache making town of Sahuayo, Michoacán.
And the beggining of a National and International Huarache tsunami, boom of colored women’s Huaraches which was a lifeline to the craft of Huarache making.
From some of the biggest international footwear fashion brands, to small social entrepreneur start-ups and the smallest family workshops, by 2015 the coloured Huarache had become a global footwear sensation.
Such a big demand also led to coloured veg. tan leather production and therefore even the few remaining Mexican veg. tanneries also benefitted. And today Huarache veg. tan leather has become widely available in many colours and has a rich smooth finish.
The Huarache craft is flourishing again and it all began thanks to Anukia who introduced a few hand painted coloured Huaraches, made in a small family workshop.
Anukia a creative couple from Guadalajara who started an International coloured Huaraches trend.
Anukia, the original coloured fashion Huarache.
To give credit, where credit is due, I recently contacted them to congratulate them. Please click to the next page, after the jump to read what they told me about their journey.
Despite tagging with multiple words including Huarache, Huaraches and Guaraches, this Blog’s content is disappearing from Google search and being replaced and drowned out by commercial websites and photos of generic sport shoes and sandals.
Maybe the Google algorithm does not consider dated blog posts relevant as newer publications. Or most Google users are looking specifically to buy Huarache branded sport shoes and its hard to fault an algorithm that is doing an excellent job of identifying the most relevant websites.
Really, I wouldn’t mind if Huarache Blog content was replaced by equally relevant, or better content. But it seems that Google search is becoming an online supermarket. I’ve noticed that Bing search results seem to be more inclusive and content selective.
Imagine if Wikipedia entries were replaced by commercial products and brands sharing the same name. Is this the future we want for the internet?
The internet should be for learning and sharing, as much as it should be for buying.
If you happen to reach this blog and find it interesting, please mention it to your friends.
Besides Tumblr updates I don’t post any more since leaving Mexico, but I think there doesn’t exist anywhere in the world such a big resource regarding the unique craft of Huaraches and traditional Mexican Woven Footwear.
After just over 2 months my first Huarache exhibition at the MAP museum in Mexico City closed this week.
The Museo de Artes Populares is a very beautiful world class museum dedicated to Mexican Crafts. They are a true patron and I am so grateful for their interest and help.
At long last, I’m very pleased share my Huaraches exhibition at the stunning MAP museum in Mexico City from Feb.28th to May 6th.
This unique exhibition will feature the finest and rarest bespoke traditional Mexican woven footwear.
The most complex leather weaves made by the most talented and few remaining Huarache Artisans.
This exhibition is a dream come true and I would like to thank @map_mexico museum very much.
The traditional Huaraches from Rio Verde in San Luis Potosi are constructed/lasted in an interesting way.
The upper is made in 2 pieces which are individually nailed flat between the insole and outsole.
Once the Huaraches look like a sole with wings, the 2 flat vegetable tanned leather sides are wet and then cinched together with laces to form around the last.
I often wondered if and when this moment would come.
Its a heartbreaking choice to make, since I care so much about this craft.
But after a number of years the time has come to hang up my Huaraches and taking a step back. My Museum exhibition is still scheduled for February and I will continue adding a few photos on http://www.huaracheblog.tumblr.com, but I will be leaving Mexico indefinitely tomorrow.
The last seven years have been my most amazing and intense journey of highs, lows and switchbacks. Like a pinball, down the rabbit hole into the real, raw and unsheltered world that is traditional rural Mexico. I never imagined that my interest in one object; such as a woven rustic leather sandal from rural Mexico, could reveal so much about humanity and myself.
The Kindness, Joy, Strength, Beauty, Tragedy, Deceit and Danger I experienced in Mexico have forged an emotional bond that is very hard to break. Mexico where everything felt possible, but was equally improbable, so inspired me to challenge the status quo and extend myself as much as I could. As a Design Consultant, creating a Huarache Brand and New Huarache Designs, Researching and Supporting the Craft and its Artisans across Mexico. Not to mention learning an new language and business administration…oh and the heat!
But maybe I tried to much, over extended and now this chapter has seems to have reached its natural end.
I hope my work on Huaraches has helped, and that others in their own ways will continue to help sustain this precious cultural treasure, which is not just Mexican, but of the World.
I encourage everyone who sees an opportunity to do meaningful good in their life to take it, albeit with a little caution and more careful planning. Because you may not get a second chance in the short time we have on this little rocky ball spinning in space.
I’m very grateful for this special opportunity of a lifetime and for everyone I met on this journey.
Thank you all for your support.
I hope I will be able to return one day, and until then my friends, hasta luego.
P.S. I will not be selling anymore Huaraches. But you may be able to buy directly from the artisans by visiting The Huarache Directory HERE
Muchas veces me he preguntado si y cuando llegaría este momento.
Es una decisión desgarradora de tomar, ya que quiero tanto a esta artesania.
Pero después varios anos ha llegado el momento de colgar mi Huaraches y dar un paso atrás. Mi exposición de Museo aún está programada para febrero y seguiré agregando algunas fotos en http://www.huaracheblog.tumblr.com, pero mañana dejaré México indefinidamente.
Los últimos siete años han sido mi viaje más increíble e intenso de altos, bajos y retrocesos. Como un pinball, por la “amadriguera del conejo” en el mundo real, crudo y sin abrigo que es el México rural tradicional. Nunca imaginé que mi interés en un objeto; Tal como una rústica sandalia en cuero tejido de México rural, podría revelar tanto sobre la humanidad y mí mismo.
La bondad, la alegría, la fuerza, la belleza, la tragedia, el engaño y el peligro que vivi en México han forjado un vínculo emocional que es muy difícil de romper. México, donde todo me pareci posible, pero fue igualmente improbable, me inspiró para desafiar el statu quo y extenderme tanto como pude. Como Consultor de Diseño, creando una Marca de Huaraches y Nuevos Diseños, Investigando y Apoyando la Artesanía y sus Artesanos en México. Por no mencionar el aprendizaje de un nuevo idioma y incluso en la administración empresarial … oh y el calor!
Pero tal vez traté de extender demasiado y ahora este capítulo parece llegado a su fin natural.
Espero que mi trabajo sobre los Hauraches haya ayudado y que otros en sus propias maneras continúen ayudando a sostener este precioso tesoro cultural, que no es sólo mexicano, sino del mundo.
Animo a todos los que ven la oportunidad de hacer un bien significativo en su vida para tomarla, aunque con un poco de precaución y una planificación más cuidadosa.
Porque tal vez no tendrás una segunda oportunidad en el corto tiempo que tenemos sobre esta “piedrota” que gira en el espacio y que llamamos tierra.
Estoy muy agradecido por esta oportunidad especial de toda una vida y por todos que conocí en este viaje.
Gracias a todos por su apoyo.
Espero poder volver un día, y hasta entonces mis amigos, hasta luego.
P.S. No venderé más Huaraches. Pero tal vez pueden comunicarse y comprar directamente de los artesanos, visitando The Huarache Directory HERE
For years I’ve shared photos of Huaraches and regrettably not enough of the Artisans who make such beautiful designs and their personal stories.
A few photos from an exhibition I’m preparing at a major Museum early next year.
©2017 ALL RIGHTS RESERVED MARKUS KITTNER