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.
For the past 3 years Huarache Blog has been documenting and promoting the craft of Mexican Huarache footwear. This year I will also be developing a specialty e-trade business to offer more immediate support to the craft of Huaraches.
Introducing úkata, an online Huaracheria selling only the best Huaraches in Mexico. Rare designs crafted by the most talented Huaracheros. Timeless Huarache styles that have been made the same way by the artisan and his family for generations. Footwear with a low environmental impact, made with naturally processed and recycled materials.
Click back in February for a more detailed post on úkata and to visit the online store.
Durante los últimos 3 años Blog Huarache ha estado documentando y promoviendo la artesanía de los Huaraches Mexicanos. Este año voy iniciar un negocio de comercio internet para ofrecer un apoyo más inmediato a los Huaracheros y a la artesanía de los Huaraches Mexicanos.
Presentando úkata una Huaracheria en línea de los mejores Huaraches en México. Huaraches excepcionales hechos por los mejores Huaracheros.
Si algúno Huaracheros talentosos quieran vender sus huaraches en el internet, por favor pónganse en contacto con Huarache Blog escribiendo un comentario con sus correo eléctronico en la parte inferior de este artículo (Enter your comment here…).
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 town, 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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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.