FW20: Inspiration + Process

We are so thrilled to finally get to share the Fall/Winter 2020 Collection with you! We are swooning over these 10 beautiful bags featuring all-natural plant dyes. The line includes two brand new models... yoga anyone? That's right, we are over the moon excited to offer the MZ Yoga Bag! We caught up with MZ Design and Production Manager Ana Cris to learn more about the inspiration and process behind the bags. 

What is the inspiration behind the colors and designs in the FW20 Collection?

Ana Cris: The inspiration for this line was working with the traditional natural dyes. Natural dyes soften the palette, in comparison to their aniline counterparts, but offer shades that are muted, beautiful and cohesive, perfect for fall. This time we focused on shades of greens, blues, amber and purples achieved with primarily cochineal, indigo, moss and walnut shells.

For this line we worked with Ludivina and Isabel, two artisans who are experts in developing colors from plants, minerals and even insects. Due to some complications with Covid and limited access to the village where the artisans live, we had very little time to experiment in creating and perfecting the color samples. Even so, in less than two weeks, the colors were ready.

How was the process of creating the new models with the leatherworker Fernando?

It was fun and challenging. Fernando is a skilled leatherworker who lives in Guadalajara. Usually we work with a leatherworker here in Oaxaca, where the artisans and I are located, which is much easier logistically. However, Fernando has different capabilities, and with him we were able to explore new bag designs, such as the yoga bag and mini backpack.  Fernando is meticulous and detailed. He has an impressive understanding of leather and the qualities of the material, and the resulting bags are always superb. 

All the work had to be done remotely, but we had frequent messages and video calls. I sent him some sample wool tapetes to make prototypes of the models. In the samples phase there are always changes. Some of the weavings and details of the bag models had to be adjusted in design and size before the final products were ready to be produced.

Was there anything challenging or gratifying about designing and producing this line?

Once we determined the colors, each artisan decided to reproduce them on their own. The biggest challenge of working in this way was getting consistent colors from one artisan to the next. It was difficult because producing natural colors is something very personal, like cooking from a recipe. Each individual has learned to do it in different ways and sometimes the results vary. 

At MZ we understand that this is part of the Zapotec tradition and we respect and accept the way the artisans want to work. Although it was challenging at times to achieve uniform colors in different dye pots, the result was eight beautiful colors that will never be exactly the same. But that is beautiful too, as nature always surprises you. 

Which is your favorite bag?

This time, the Shadow Violet Tote stole my heart. The pattern is very simple but I love how the colors look together, and how they contrast with the leather. Plus the detail of the wool tapete as an exterior pocket!

Anything else you'd like to share?

I feel very lucky to work with the MZ team. We went through very difficult times with Covid, and there are many companies that had to close permanently. Although it was difficult to develop this line, I think that not only I, but also the artisans are grateful that there is still work for us. I hope this line is successful and if someone decides to buy a bag they know that it was created with a lot of effort, dedication and love.

Explore the FW20 Collection!

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