Part II Mexican Fashion — does the right thing!

After my last agitated post commenting on Mexican designers who don’t acknowledge their sources of ‘indigenous inspiration’ or give them any credit, I thought thought I might post Adele, of Latin Threads Trading, comments. She comes from a design company which has been working in Mexico for awhile – making high quality products for the mid range-market. (see link bottom of page).

I agree with arguments on both sides of this discussion…it is a complex issue with no easy answer re. wages and respect of native traditions.

As for culture degradation, a friend who has worked many years in Chiapas with indigenous people once said to me, “The indigenous people see the commercial work they do for us as work, like going to a job every day. What we do with their product doesn’t matter to them as they have their own vibrant work that they do for themselves.” In my experience working with indigenous artisans, I would tend to agree. As for cutting up tired traditional garments and repurposing them, when I ask the indigenous women we work with what they do with their old and spoiled clothing, they tell me they throw them away. Why not preserve these remnants and enlighten the consumer with something that is both beautiful, cultural, AND functional?

It is our mission (Latin Threads Trading) to create sustainable employment at fair wages for indigenous artisans doing what they do best, the traditional crafts of their respective villages. It is a long road, fraught with problems on both sides of the equation, one that requires time, patience, and cultural sensitivity. There is no excuse for not acknowledging the contributions made by these people within the fashion industry, but that is another discussion.

But there’s good news! Designer Carmen Rion of Mexico City has worked with indigenous artisans in a number of her collections and happily acknowledges them. This seasons designs are inspired by the chales or mocheval/ capes of Zinacatan in the highlands of Chiapas. I’m including a video of the Pasisaje Mocheval Exhibit of some of Carmen’s most elegant and inspired mochevales at the Franz Meyer Museum in D.F. You’ll notice  Zinacatan embroiderers in their full traje/costume enjoying the fruits of their labor. They were also included in the fashion show (See the second YouTube video). And although they might be too humble to say so, I’m sure they feel pride in being included.

4 thoughts on “Part II Mexican Fashion — does the right thing!

  1. Love it! I was in Zinacantan, Chiapas, 2 weeks ago and I continue to be amazed at how vibrant their textile tradition is. Their colors and designs evolve continuously. It is hard to believe that as recently as 40 years ago these people were wearing white tunics and that they have successfully integrated the sewing machine and synthetic materials into their art form.

  2. When I read your post the other day, I was a little distressed because my opinion is exactly as stated by Adele of Latin Threads Trading. She expressed it beautifully. Thank you! I love this vibrant art and if there is a way I can buy a piece of it and wear it with pride in New York City, I will.
    Thank you for a wonderful blog-

  3. Enjoy the visual images and discussion. “As for culture degradation…” Yes. When we were in Santiago, Guatemala the indigenous people had cut up some of the traditional fabric and made pillow covers out of them. I bought two. Wish I had bought more. They are on a couch in our living room and are probably the only exposure most of our friends and neighbors here in Minnesota will have to these beautiful hand dyed, hand woven fabrics. I have a weaving, textile design background. The first time I was in Guatemala I couldn’t believe it – these very poor people by our standards – were wearing hand dyed, hand woven, hand sewed clothes. And now that “fashion” has made it to runways. How can that be bad?

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