IX Style is a new socially conscious fashion brand that currently sells Mayan style Huaraches, while donating 15% of profits to provide clean drinking water to Guatemalan communities that have none.
IX pronounced “eeks”, is the Mayan word for water.
Started earlier this year, IX Style will turn 15% profits to affiliated charities in Guatemala that run projects which create water filtration systems and wells. Not only does this initiative aim to offer a healthier life, but also to reduce the time spent collecting precious water from distant sources. Thereby providing people with more time to study, or work and a better chance to break the poverty cycle.
For more info check out the IX Style website HERE
A few weeks ago Bill Gates mentioned the importance of prioritizing the development and distribution of technology for basic things like “child survival” in the third world, over the projects of global connectivity proposed by Mark Zuckerberg and Google.
Although its hard to side with his point of view because essentially all help is good help. From the comfort of our smartphone interconnected world its also hard to imagine the daily hardships endured by about 90% of the world’s population. Its hard to imagine the hours spent walking for miles just to collect dirty water, or fire wood to cook with. How can anyone find time to study, work and least of all surf the web, when so much time is dedicated to the most basic needs?
And just the other day when I wanted to add a Huarachero to the online The Huarache Directory, surprisingly he told me he didn’t have a phone, let alone access to the internet. It never occurred to me that the average daily wage in Mexico is about US$4 per day, which means that some Mexicans are working for even less (like many people around the world). So assuming the internet will one day penetrate to the deepest and remotest parts of the planet, the question is will those living there be able to afford access to it?
Jamay is a small town on the eastern corner of Lake Chapala in Jalisco. It is known for its eyelet decorated Huaraches style especially for this one below called the “Guandarria Finito”.
I was able to find a small family “Taller” Huarache workshop, Father, Mother and 2 Sons all dedicated to the craft of making these Huaraches.
Like all woven Huaraches the “Guandarria ” can be made with different numbers of weaves and increased sophistication.
Also very sophisticated is the “20 Vueltas” Petatillo Huarache, which is woven exclusively by the lady.
Then there is the “Jamay Pachuco” that quite different to the similarly named Huarache style from nearby Sahuayo.
To make an order call Huaracheria Jamay in Jamay, Jalisco at Tel. 392.924.1230 (don’t forget the international dialing code for Mexico)
Sr. Alonso makes a “Petatillo” Huarache that has a unique Huarache weave. The name can be translated to “brick weave” and probably has roots in the Nahuatl word petlatl which is a traditional palm woven mat with the same weave.
But unlike petate matting you won’t find a “Petatillo” Huarache like this anywhere in Mexico outside of a 50 mile radius from his workshop. Because weaving a “brick weave” flat mat is one thing, knowing how to weave the same brick design over a 3 dimensional last, into a sole using just a single strip of leather is another.
Sr. Alonso is a humble man, I once asked him if he would be interested in collaborating with a small Canadian brand that had approached me, but he respectfully turned the offer down telling me “I’m getting old, I should be working less and not more”.
Nonetheless I was recently able to make a small order of “Petatillo” Huaraches from him to share with interested readers. You can buy them by visiting my store at the top of the page or clicking HERE
$30 DHL shipping to USA, Canada and Mexico.
I was immediately struck by his Petatillo” design for it’s sophisticated balance of thick ruggedness and complex weave. What’s more these Huaraches use no glue, they are made using only natural tanned leather, rubber and nails! The rubber outsole is made from a thinned out recycled truck tire that uses chord instead of metal ply.
These are probably my favorite Huaraches, I like the last shape very much, but I especially enjoy how intricate they are and yet also handmade with only a few essential tools and materials. What’s more, like many traditional Huaraches they are also made without the use of any electrical tools. Like some of the best cooking they show how much can be achieved with so little.
These Huaraches are also known as ” de campo” meaning for the field. The tight weave keeps the Huarache flexible and the foot protected while also allowing it to breath. Unlike most Huaraches the base of this “Petatillo” heel piece is nailed into the sole, this is to prevent stones and dirt from getting in under the foot.
It takes about 1 hour just to weave a pair of these Huaraches, which doesn’t include the time spent cutting strips and parts, pressing the insole leather to get it flat and stiff and nailing the insole and sole.
The vegetable tanned leather comes from a local tannery and though it is as rugged and natural as it gets, Sr. Alonso does a good job at thinning it down to a wearable thickness.
You can check out how this leather changes colour on a previous post titled “My Petatillos – Huaraches Get Better With Age” HERE
For more information about the process to make this “Petatillo” Huarache and my small challenge finding Sr. Alonso, check out a previous post titled “To Make a Huarache” HERE
Gracias Sr. Alonso!
I was lucky to drop by Taller workshop of Huarachero Antonio Granados last week to see a few new Huarache styles that he makes.
The recent wins at the yearly Huaraches Competition in Sahuayo had earned him a few orders some which he was busy finishing.
Below is the Huarache “Peinetón” named after the Hair Comb type leather tongue.
The Huarache “Petatillo Cerrado Combinado” is another example of how he also weaves different coloured strips of leather.
The Huarache “Marta Combinado”.
The Huarache “Pachuco 20 Vueltas”.
For more Antonio Granadas Huarache designs and contact details click HERE
Sr. Magaña is one of the friendliest and soft spoken individuals I know. Its a real pleasure to sit with him in his workshop and to talk about the traditions of Huaraches in the small town of Tonila in Southern Jalisco.
Like most Huaracheros in Mexico, Sr. Magaña is the last remaining one in Tonila. His sons Enrique and Telesforo still help out, but have recently found more stable factory jobs to support their families.
Nowadays the door to Sr. Magaña’s workshop is mostly closed, business is very slow. Although he still gets orders from retailers in Colima for his special Huaraches with white uppers, the profit from those 5 pairs barely covers his gas costs so he turns them down. He makes a few Huaraches for local customers and the odd leather repair on saddles and chairs, but mostly he works on his small plot of land just outside town.
Then before the town fiestas he and his sons make mini Huarache key rings to sell to tourists and relatives visiting from the USA, or other Mexican cities.
Mini Huaraches that are all woven the traditional way on tiny whittled lasts.
The workshop is full of signs that Sr. Magaña once lived and breathed the craft of Huaraches.
He still stores old dusty Huarache designs from back in the day before the use of rubber soles.
Huaraches that were once sold in separate parts at the market and the wearer would weave their own upper at home over their foot instead of a shoe last.
Because these Huaraches are no longer used, nor made and because they seem to be the bridge to the modern Huarache weave, it was important for me to document them as best as I could.
I asked Sr. Magaña if he would show me the process and so he kindly set about cutting a pair of rubber tyre soles for me.
To allow weaving into the sole, slits are first cut into the sides, then animal fat it spread over the surface where the weaving holes are to be punched from. This design prevents the leather strips from contact and abrasion with the ground.
Once the holes have been punched into the top surface of the sole the Huaraches are ready to be woven.
The vegetable tanned leather is cut into strips which are soaked in water for weaving.
The Huaraches de “Gamarra” as they are know are then woven onto the foot and are worn until the leather dries.
Recently I found a couple of traditional but now rare Huarache styles, hidden away in Huaracheria Luz at the Mercado de Abastos in Oaxaca, owned by María Santiago Martínez and her husband.
Both are styles from the nearby Valles Centrales, but are rarely made nowadays. In fact you won’t find them for sale at the main Valles markets of Tlacolula and Ocotlan.
The Huarache “De Punta” with the traditional pointed toe that was typically worn by men in Etla, apparently no longer sells because locals now prefer less traditional styles.
The original “Oaxaca” Huarache is nowadays another a rarely made style due to it’s high weave count which makes it too expensive to sell at market retail. Worth noting is that the increasing cost of vegetable tanned leather has also contributed to raising Huarache prices.
SECOND ARRIVALS – The úkata “Pihuamo” by Huaraches Martínez – The Finest Pihuamo Huaraches in MexicoPosted: September 11, 2013
The design of these classic Huaraches originally comes from the small town of Pihuamo in southern Jalisco.
José Martínez makes hands down the best quality “Pihuamo” Huaraches you will find anywhere. They’re very far from your typical transmission oil/diesel dyed field Huarache.
José Martínez leather lines all his Huaraches with a thinner and softer leather using a traditional pedal powered sewing machine. In fact none of his Huaraches are made using any electrical tools. The only use for electricity is to power the radio. What’s more, given all the natural light that fills the “Taller” workshop during the working hours even the lights are hardly ever turned on, making the carbon footprint from his business minimal.
He also organically tans all the Huarache leather himself to his exact specifications and thickness for a consistently high quality. Personally tanning each batch with tree bark for 4 months compared to 3 weeks for industrial vegetable tanned leather and 1 day for chrome tanned leather.
Echoing other traditions as making fine wine, or whiskey, the thick insole leather of Martínez Huaraches is tanned using local Encino Oak bark. I can’t think of a more natural material to be walking on.
By popular request I’m offering some “Pihuamo” style Huaraches from Huaraches Martínez which you can buy HERE and also in size Mens US 12.
$30 DHL shipping to USA, Canada and Mexico.
The outsole is made from the most hard wearing central treaded part of a truck tire. Soles made from the central part of tires are nowadays rare because modern tires have metal belts that cannot be cut. To maintain his high standards José Martínez searches out only old school tires that use chord belts and doesn’t compromise by using lower quality sidewall rubber for his Huarache soles.