Last week we introduced our latest collection, a small and refined line of eight new bags in gorgeous earthy hues meant to transition easily from season to season. All of our collections are a true labor of love from start to finish, and we want to share the journey with you - from concept to finished production.
The first step is always designing. Our talented artisan partners collaborate closely with our design manager in Oaxaca, Ana Cris, to discuss colors, patterns, and handbag styles. We meet several times as a team throughout this stage, offering feedback until we finalize which designs will be made into samples, and ultimately make up the new line.
For this line, we tried something we hadn't done before- an earthy, elegant palette for summer, straying from the usual bright or pastel tones of past seasons. Our handbags are expertly crafted to last a lifetime, so we wanted to offer a collection that could easily transition from season to season.
Dyeing, Weaving, Sewing + Leatherwork
Once we've finalized the designs, the artisans begin to dye the wool. The yarn is boiled over wood fire with the dye, and a fixative (such as lime juice) is added, and then the skeins of colored yarn are hung to dry in the sun.
For the Summer '21 collection, it took a few rounds of dyeing to get the right colors. Throughout the dyeing process, the water in the pot is reused for at least three batches. When this cycle is completed, the ashes from the burning wood are used to alter the PH levels in the water so that it can then be used to water the artisans' gardens and plants.
Once the yarn is ready, the weaving begins. The artisans use bi-peddle treadle looms, using techniques that have been handed down through generations. The finished wool panels are called tapetes.
When the tapetes are completed, they are sent to a local leatherworker who adds leather handles and other finishes. Then they go back to the weavers, who then sew in the zippers and linings.
Meet the Makers
Weaving is an ancient Zapotec craft that has been passed down from generations to generation. The makers behind the Summer '21 Collection all come from the Santiago artisan family of Oaxaca, whom we've been partnering with for over a decade. They are immeasurably talented and we're honored to share a bit about them.
Malena + Hugo
Malena and Hugo have been together for decades, and they work together in a fluid, collaborative process. Malena learned how to weave form her mother when she was 10 years old, and has passed down the tradition to her own children.
“The advantage of weaving for work is being able to stay home with the family.” says Hugo. “Our goal is always focused on our children, that they can continue studying and graduate from the university.”
Maria Luisa + Jose Luis
Maria Luisa comes from a family of four generations of weavers, and Jose Luis began weaving when they got married over 20 years ago. Maria Luisa enjoys every part of the weaving process, but it’s combining colors that really makes her artistic heart sing and her tapetes are studies in subtle and complementary color-blocking and traditional patterns.
“This work is very pleasing,” said Maria Luisa, “You weave practically your life into it. Each piece is just that, a stage … a piece of your life.”
Rocio + Omar
Rocío and Omar have a vibrant youthful energy, and they have shared over 25 years together. Rocío learned the art of textile dyeing and weaving from her mother.
“Weaving is a beautiful and noble work that allows me to care for my kids but still fulfills my dream of being creative. It’s what I love to do,” she says.
Rocio is a true artist who loves the creativity of creating unique patterns and combining colors in new ways. She says that designing is her favorite part of the process and loves getting to see her idea become the final product.
Antonia + Tomás
Antonia and Tomás live and work in a family compound along with Tomas’ parents and the families of two of his brothers. Life here centers on the extended family, and they very much value the support that this offers.
Antonia started out dyeing yarn for her other family members to weave and then began to design as well, with Tomás working by her side. Typically Antonia initiates the design process, Tomás weaves the samples; they tag-team the entire process like that, until the product is tagged and shipped!
“When he completes a step, I take up the next one and so on. We share everything, including work, caring for the children and the house,” said Antonia.
You can view the collection here, and stay tuned for more new lines debuting throughout the year. Have a beautiful summer!