Tejiendo Nuestros Pasos is a stunning and truly authentic short documentary that softly reveals the often overlooked humanity that lies behind Huaraches.
It follows 3 Huarachero Artisans through their Huarache making process, as they talk about their life in Tacambaro a small town in the south of Michoacan state.
Daniel Ysi Zarco and his team created and filmed this documentary in reaction to the closing of so many Huarache workshops in Tacambaro during his life, with the loss of local identity and economic self sufficiency caused by the growth of modern long range distribution and mass production.
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.
Compare the content of Huarache Blog and the Huarache Directory to other sources on Huaraches either online (pinterest, instagram, facebook), or in books and I think you will agree there exists nothing similar. Without travelling to Mexico, who, or where else can you learn about the craft of Mexican Huaraches, or contact Huarache Artisans directly?
Please share the link of this blog and the Huarache Directory if you think they are interesting.
Because despite tagging with multiple words including Huarache, Huaraches, or Guaraches, and the word Huarache being written countless times, unfortunately 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 mass produced sandals.
And unfortunately the same is happening with http://www.thehuarachedirectory.wordpress.com the only resource dedicated to putting people directly in contact with Huarache artisans. I’m at a loss for words as to why this not for profit important service is being burried by less valuable content?
Without spending money on SEO agencies, I’m not sure how else can I promote the craft of Huaraches? Especially now that I no longer live in Mexico, it’s impossible for me to regularly update this blog.
Maybe the Google algorithm does not consider old blog posts relevant as newer publications. Or most Google users are looking specifically to buy Huarache branded sport shoes, so its hard to fault an algorithm that is doing an excellent job of identifying the most relevant websites.
But I’m saddened that over time fewer people will be able access, or come across this site via search engines and instead be shown links to retail providing only commercial mainstream footwear. For old Huarache Blog readers none of this will matter, but what about all the new readers? What Huarache content will be accessible to them online in the future?
Really, I wouldn’t mind if my Huarache infirmation was replaced by equally relevant, or better content. If someone in Mexico would post about the craft of Huaraches and promote Artisans I would gladly support and promote their blog. But so far no one seems to be stepping up.
It seems that Google search is becoming an online supermarket. I’ve noticed that Bing search results seem to be more inclusive, balanced and content selective.
Imagine if Wikipedia entries were replaced by commercial products and brands sharing the same name. If it became difficult to access informative content.
Unfortunately Wikipedia won’t even mention, or publish the link to Huarache Blog because their rules state that blogs are unreliable sources of information.
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, or the Huarache Directory and find them interesting, please mention it to your friends, or share their links, even to http://www.huaracheblog.tumblr.com which has an amazing and largest number of interesting Huarache photos to share, especially compared to any search engine.
Besides my Tumblr updates I don’t post much 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.
When it comes to the craft of Huaraches, Huarache Blog contains more information than Facebook, Pinterest and even Instagram. It’s a shame to see it become relegated because of a simple technicality.
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
Sometimes I’m asked why I chose Huaraches?
A question which most times I find hard to give the same reply to because there are so many reasons that I usually don’t know where to start. But just a few days ago a curious analogy came to mind which I think can best serve to explain why I decided to document, promote and make Huaraches in Mexico, and may even transmit some of my emotions which motivated me.
If you can, put yourselves in my shoes of a footwear designer and try to imagine a future where most people don’t play sport and there is hardly any interest in sport shoes. Maybe because younger generations prefer playing advanced video games which have become a more interesting way to experience the dynamic.
What if just a few small factories were left still making performance sport shoes. Some interesting, unique, sophisticated and technical footwear designs, but mostly made for just a few 50 year olds who still enjoy kicking, or throwing a ball around on weekends.
If you felt that sport is healthy for the body, mind, teamwork and community spirit; would you support the sports shoe industry, despite knowing that it had become culturally unpopular, or irrelevant?
Admittedly this scenario seems strange and unlikely, but I feel that its pretty much what has happened to Huaraches, they just ceased becoming relevant. Something I realize now can happen to anything at anytime.
Because just like sneakers are most popular today, 50 years ago most Mexicans wore Huaraches and I don’t think anyone imagined they could/would disappear because they were as Mexican as tortillas, or tequila. Usually Huaraches, like food were made locally and could be purchased directly from many workshops and artisans in town. Not only but the leather was tanned with natural ingredients as tree bark and water.
Today only a few Huarache factories, workshops and artisans remain and despite the recent Huaraches fashion, many in small towns and villages continue closing for lack of demand and the artisan’s old age, whose children have gone on to work in other jobs.
In the long run its possible that the cost of losing small family owned Huarache workshops is outweighed by the benefits of a more centralized and efficient industrial system and technological society. But, can anyone imagine Mexico without tortillas, or tequila? Or a world without sport, or sport shoes. Its the paradox of progress; but should the past and the future be mutually exclusive? And can harmony exist between both?
If you worked in the footwear industry and thought Huaraches could offer additional fashion, health, social and cultural benefits, what would you do?
Un Futuro sin Deportes, sin Tenis, sin Huaraches
A veces me preguntan por qué elegí los Huaraches?
Pero a menudo me resulta difícil resumir con la misma respuesta porque hay muchas razones y no sé por dónde empezar. Pero hace unos días me vino a la mente una curiosa analogía que creo puede bien explicar porqué decidí documentar, promover y hacer Huaraches en México, incluso puede transmitir algunas de mis emociones que me motivaron.
Póngase en mis zapatos de diseñador de calzado y traten de imaginar un futuro donde la mayoría de la gente no practica deporte y apenas hay interés en los zapatos deportivos. Talvez porque las generaciones más jóvenes prefieren jugar videojuegos avanzados que se han convertido en una forma más interesante de sentirse dinámico.
Y si sólo unas pocas pequeñas fábricas se quedaban haciendo zapatos de deporte. Diseños de calzado interesantes, únicos, sofisticados y técnicos, pero realizados en su mayoría solo para unos pocos mayores de 50 años que todavía disfrutan de patear, o lanzar una balón en los fines de semana.
Si sentía que el deporte era saludable para el cuerpo, la mente, el trabajo en equipo y el espíritu comunitario; apoyarías la industria del calzado deportivo, a pesar de saber que se había vuelto culturalmente impopular, o irrelevante?
Es cierto que este escenario parece extraño y poco probable, pero creo que es más o menos lo que le ha sucedido con los Huaraches, simplemente dejaron de ser relevantes. Algo que me doy cuenta ahora puede suceder a cualquier cosa en cualquier momento.
Al igual que los tenis son los más populares hoy en día, hace 50 años la mayoría de los mexicanos llevaban Huaraches y no creo que nadie imaginara que podrían desaparecer porque eran tan mexicanos como las tortillas, o el tequila. Por lo general Huaraches, como la comida se hacían localmente y se podía comprar directamente de muchos talleres y artesanos en la ciudad. No solo, el cuero estaba curtido con ingredientes naturales como corteza de árbol y agua.
Hoy sólo quedan unas pocas fábricas, talleres y artesanos de Huarache, ya pesar de la reciente moda del Huarache, muchos ubicados en los pueblos y ranchos continúan cerrando por falta de demanda y la vejez de los artesanos, cuyos hijos han ido a trabajar en otros trabajos.
Es posible que a largo plazo el costo de perder pequeños talleres familiares de Huarache sea compensado por los beneficios de un sistema industrial y una sociedad tecnológica más centralizada y eficiente. ¿Pero, puede alguien imagínese México sin tortillas ni tequila? O un mundo sin deporte, ni zapatos deportivos. Es la paradoja del progreso; ¿pero debrian el pasado y el futuro ser mutuamente excluyentes? ¿Y Puede existir armonía entre ambos?
Si trabajabas en la industria del calzado y pensabas que el Huaraches podría ofrecer beneficios adicionales de moda, salud, sociales y culturales, ¿qué harías?
I was recently interviewed about Huaraches by Put This On, a process which I enjoyed very much.
CLICK HERE to read the full interview. Thank you Derek.
The úkata+ Oaxaca are probably the softest woven Huaraches you’ll ever wear and not only, they will also mold to the shape of your feet.
It’s my first Huarache design and took me many samples to fine tune, mostly because soft woven leather surfaces don’t like to keep their rounded shape (this footwear is unlined). This I learned also depends on the last shape and the weave angle. My first last supplier lost patience threw in the towel after about 6 rounds of revisions, I revised the weave angle in about double that number of samples and will post photos of each unique iteration soon, pointed lasts, textile strips etc.
Its taken me over 1 year to get to this stage, not only because of sample making (these Huaraches really are woven from one single continuous weave), but also because I also source only the best materials myself. Walking the surreal tyre recycling neighborhood in North Guadalajara to find a supplier for a 5mm recycled truck tyre sole, to finding the softest leather, tanned in a drum with Acacia tree extract and water solution. The last 2 years have been one long treasure hunt and how many tales I have to share. Now all thats left is some grading for other styles, QC, negotiating pricing and production schedules.
The ukatamas website is also almost ready, but for the next few months or so I will be selling small quantities of úkata+ Huaraches from MY STORE in the top left of this page as a sort of preview of what things to come.
The úkata+ Oaxaca Huarache last was designed especially for an anatomical barefoot fit with no heel, its unique shape also allowing the soft leather weave to expand evenly to accommodate even wide feet comfortably with no pressure spots, or ugly sudden changes in appearance of the weave. The traditional Oaxaca Huarache weave was adapted by me also to fit my rather wide feet (as you will notice in the photos).
I included some traditional and sometimes forgotten features that make Huaraches better; a lasted the heel for a better fit, that is also taller and easier to grab when putting on the Huaraches and of course the hand carved symbols traditional on Oaxacan Huaraches.
And from the same woven strip of leather I also added a loop as part of the upper weaving sequence, to easily put the Huaraches on quickly.
Warning: These Huarache will mold to your feet and you may never want to take them off again. I’ve worn mine almost every day for the last 2 years and not just in warm climates.
If you have narrow feet, please order half a size smaller.
NEW SHIPPING OPTIONS AND LOWER SHIPPING RATES – FREE SHIPPING AVAILABLE TO THE USA AND CANADA.
At this time I have only mens sizes, but more sizes and a nice website are expected this Summer 🙂