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.
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.
At US$1,195 the Basket Weave Sandal by Proenza Schouler makes quite a statement not only for its heel, but for being probably the most expensive Huarache in the world.
What I don’t understand is why is it so hard for international designers and brands to give credit the the Mexican craft of Huarache footwear. Just a nod would do, I understand if they would rather not call their US$1000 footwear Huarache, but maybe call it something Mexican, or the name of the weave, that in this case is the “Harana” by Huaraches Cisneros from Concepción de Buenos Aires, Jalisco.
Huaraches Cisneros – Concepción de Buenos Aires, Jalisco
THIS POST CONTAINS MUSIC – ADJUST THE VOLUME OF YOUR COMPUTER ACCORDINGLY
A quick apology to readers of Huarache Blog for the slow progress and few posts during the last 6 months. Besides the fact that new Huarache related information is becoming harder to come by, it’s mainly due to another interesting Huarache related transition that I’m making.
I can’t reveal too much in this post besides the fact that although the journey has become a bit more challenging, the rewards just keep accumulating.
Despite my slow posting, I still sell the best classic Huaraches like the ones you see on my feet tapping away to the classic “Caminos de Michoacan” song.
They don’t make Huaraches like these anymore, not even in 99% of Mexico. The increasingly rare traditional 3-4 months tanning process makes them virtually last a lifetime and age beautifully. Its because traditional tanning is considerably more labor intensive and expensive that only a handful of people still continue the tradition. In recent months I’ve been very lucky to wear Huaraches made from such freshly tanned leather, that compared to regular leather has a unique glow and richness..by comparison it’s almost like the difference between a freshly grilled steak to an old dried up one.
I prefer such artisanal leather, unfortunately its un-industrially long processing lead times are not currently feasible in the traditional 50 point margin, low inventory, high volume business model.
Although footwear made from leather tanned with this 3-4 month pre-industrial method has become virtually impossible to find, you can still snap up the few pairs of Huaraches that are still made using this method HERE
Thanks for reading Huarache Blog and stay tuned as I hope to bring you some good Huarache surprises in the coming months!
These “Tamazula” Huaraches are a real rarity and are today made on request by only one Huarachero in Mexico. I have been fortunate to be able to order a limited number of Men’s sizes and have them for sale in my úkata store which you can access clicking the VISIT MY STORE icon in the top right of this page.
Finding the Huarachero after seeing a pair of his Huaraches for sale in Tamazula, Jalisco (see that post HERE) was a real investigation, especially as he doesn’t even live near Tamazula and understandably none of the Huaracheria owners in Tamazula were willing to tell me his name either.
And even after find him, Sr. Solano the huarachero never gave me his phone number. Although each time I visited him I always found him busy weaving Huaraches, with his seemingly busy huarache making schedule I was surprised to discover that he only makes Huaraches part time.
Like most Huaracheros he has his own workshop, his lasts, his sewing machine and has his local clients, but surprisingly most of his time is taken up as the caretaker of his local church. Its a mystery to me why a Huarachero of such talent chooses caretaking work over making his remarkable Huaraches. Thoughts of miracles, vows and answered prayers go through my mind, but maybe for Sr. Solano money and Huaraches aren’t everything, after all he’s also well into his 70’s.
It was touching to hear Sr. Solano talk about putting love into making his Huaraches, a philosophy so distant from today’s monetization and commodification culture even amongst other Mexican Huaracheros. Its clear that for Sr. Solano focusing on service and quality is very important. Maybe that’s why he offered to make me only 6 pairs of his unique “Tamazula” Huaraches, because he realistically didn’t have time to make me more.
Interestingly Sr. Solano’s Huaraches are made using vegetable tanned leather from Curtiduria Gonzalez in Colima. Sr. Solano is one of those crafts persons I wrote about who travel across state just to buy the right leather. Because not every leather can be cut so thinly so as to make his “Tamazula” 16 Vuelta Huaraches.
I’m also excited for this rare opportunity to show you in detail the tanning process of the leather of these “Tamazula” Huaraches. Its not often that consumers are able to witness the tanning of the leather in their products. Check out the “Tamazula” Huarache artisanal tanning process HERE
Like all good Huaraches the “Tamazula” sole is made from only the central/tread part of a recycled car tire (although the sole tread patterns are matched, the design on your pair of Huaraches may differ from the one in the photo).
The Huarache “Tamazula” is made entirely by hand and uses no glue.
The mysterious green colouring on the toe is a unique and traditional detail of the Tamazula Huarache. When I asked why it was there, I was told “that’s the way its always been”.
The fit of the “Tamazula” is little wide and are perfect if you have wide feet, or are a half size.
$30 DHL shipping to USA, Canada and Mexico.
I recently came across the 1939 US Patent 2,161,472 for a Woven Shoe with a Huarache Construction (where the upper is woven into the sole using a strip of leather).
The illustrations show some details of the anatomy of a Huarache which I find quite interesting.
I also think the drawings show the construction process quite well.
Click on the images for a close up high resolution view.
To read the patent document click HERE