Colombia: Indigenous Artisans and Fashion Designers Unite to Create from the Origin

Four indigenous artisan groups and four fashion brands in the country are initiating an alliance that will enhance Colombia’s ancestral knowledge. With the union between ethnic artisans and fashion and/or accessory designers, two collections will be created, developed under participatory design processes that promote the exchange of knowledge, techniques and experiences.

Photo Ricardo Gomez Angel
Photo Ricardo Gomez Angel

An initiative led by the Ethnic Line and the Program Moda Viva, of Handicrafts of Colombia, with the support of the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism.

This process began with a three-day workshop in which designers and artisans exchanged their productive histories, made known their trades and techniques, and created together the pieces that will carry the identity of the two creative groups.

The artisan groups, made up of about 100 artisans, are from Wayúu (La Guajira), Camentsá (Putumayo), Misak (Cauca) and Pastos (Nariño). The designer brands are MAZ, by Manuela Álvarez; Religare, by Manuela Peña; Valerio, by Lizeth Pardo, and Wonder for People, all with great interest and experience in working with ethnic communities.

“For Artersanías of Colombia it is vital to articulate the artisan sector with the creative industries, in this case, with the fashion sector. This is a project that is strengthened with the national policy of the Orange Economy, which proposes to establish a dialogue between the traditional and the contemporary, a sum of creativities and talents to enrich the work and benefit both artisans and designers,” said Ana Maria Fries, Manager of Crafts of Colombia.

The results of this creative and productive alliance will be known in two moments: at the El Retiro Shopping Center in Bogotá, from August 20 to 25, with a commercial exhibition in which the four artisan groups will show their collection, one hundred percent artisan, developed hand in hand with the designers. Also, in this fair, six other indigenous groups will exhibit textiles and accessories made with ancestral techniques.

On the other hand, the second collection, which will include not only artisan but also industrial processes, will be exhibited as part of Expoartesanías 2019, along with the other collections developed by the Moda Viva Program.

The protagonists

The four indigenous communities:

  • Wajapü,

A group made up of artisans from the Wayuu indigenous people, located two hours from the municipality of Maicao. They stand out for the elaboration of blankets and accessories with the fleece technique, which reflect the symbols and drawings that they also weave in their backpacks. For the last 2 years, the group has consolidated its handicraft production unit, improving the quality of life by establishing handicrafts as a source of livelihood for their families.

  • Doris Jajoy – Ancestral Art,

Doris Jajoy, a native of Sibundoy, Putumayo, now lives on the outskirts of Pasto, where she has organized the Ancestral Art group, made up mostly of indigenous youths that she and her family have welcomed to train them not only in artisan work but also in other professional areas. Motivated by exalting the culture of their people, the artisans make guanga weavings and chaquira accessories, with references from the territory where they come from.

  • Hajsú,

Group of the Carlosama indigenous reservation in Nariño, made up of 25 weavers of different ages, who express their feelings through warp and weft. Its products, which stand out for their color, are garments that evoke Andean thought and culture.

  • Misak Spiral,

The 20 Misak women of this group express their creativity through the elaboration of jewelry and handcrafted fabrics such as ruanas, chumbes and backpacks, woven pieces that enhance the richness of their handcrafted tradition and that they themselves shine in everyday life.

Allied brands:

  • MAZ, Manuela Álvarez

This Colombian brand founded by Manuel Alvarez, who has a solid interest in merging the technical knowledge of tailoring with the knowledge of craftsmen, generates pieces that evoke sophistication and cultural value.

  • Religare,

Manuela Peña is the creator of the brand Religare established in Medellín, whose philosophy is the creation of timeless pieces linked to the concepts of beauty and elegance, the connection with nature and the wisdom of our ancestors.

  • Valerio,

With a strong interest in product development with artisan groups, Lizeth Pardo builds Valerio, with the interest of enhancing traditional trades through pieces that tell the history of our country.


  •  Wonder for People,

This Colombian brand of espadrilles, footwear and handbags, since 2015 develops pieces in alliance with artisan workshops located in different areas of the country, taking care of the sustainability of the social and economic impact they generate with artisans.

The initiative is made possible thanks to the Program to Strengthen Entrepreneurial, Productive and Commercial Craft Initiatives for Ethnic Groups in Colombia, in partnership with the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism, and Handicrafts of Colombia, with which for more than 4 years has been able to strengthen the productive units of ethnic communities and that in 2019 will have a strong focus on the textile and fashion sector.

Author: BC Noticias