Los MEXAS is the project of some young creators who start from the artisan design of a traditional Mexican shoe and whose benefits are partly directed to the empowerment of women in the state of Michoacán.
With the door open and sitting in the sunlight, the ‘encorreladoras’ can spend up to two hours braiding and rolling up long strips of leather to finish a pair of huaraches. The craft of these women draws a stamp that is repeated in several cities of the Mexican state of Michoacán and keeps alive the tradition of these shoes with more than 500 years of history. They were observed and listened to by Jess and Borja, a couple of former co-workers who have redesigned this creative handcrafted footwear to launch it in Europe and thus return all that they have learned to these women with a social project in the Mexican region. They are the creators of MEXAS, an innovative footwear that has a clear identity and is committed to responsible production.
If Chavela Vargas was clear that “Mexicans were born where they wanted to be”, these two young entrepreneurs went to A Coruña and Gijón. “I lived in Mexico City for two years and fell in love with the country, its culture, its people and the way they live and see life, and that’s what we want to transmit with our brand,” she says. “Every time Jess returned to Spain she wore huaraches on her feet. Her friends and acquaintances would see them and ask her to bring them a pair, and not only that, but many would repeat them,” explains Borja, who also has family ties to the country of the Aztec culture. Now, based in Madrid, they are shortening the more than 9,000 km that separate them from Michoacán thanks to this project that, due to fate, was launched days after the state of emergency decree.
This type of closed flat sandal is striking because of its original and fresh wave, as well as its comfort. In fact, they say that if they had to give away a pair now it would be to “those people who endure long days during these days, to make them a little more bearable”.
So they were very clear that betting on a brand that follows this artisan method was much more than motivating as a plan for the future. “We want to maintain this tradition and add a unique design with colours and braids adapted to the European style. But it is key to respect the product”, both maintain. For the latter, it is “fundamental” that the foundation of the brand is responsibility with the “hands” that make these huaraches possible, “the heart and soul” of the MEXAS.
Huaraches that go “beyond
“All this would be empty without a strong social commitment, both when it comes to respecting the environment and providing decent working conditions to the artisans,” says Borja. “Bearing in mind that this is a product manufactured mainly by women and for women, it made perfect sense to help women in Michoacán who did not have their basic needs covered,” Jess explains.
As they indicate on their website, for every sale of a pair of MEXAS, a percentage goes to Mujeres Aliadas. This NGO has several action programs: among them, the empowerment of Michoacan women through talks and workshops, as well as the approach to sexual and reproductive health care. “The lack of resources and education in the area is alarming: there is a lack of hospital beds to assist with births, midwives, education. All of this translates into untreated illnesses due to not attending the gynecologist, problems in the health of the babies or alarmingly high rates of cesarean sections,” both detail.
These two creators believe in a model of “transparent fashion industry”, so all the information about the development of the product as well as the social project is set out in detail on their website.
Author: Miriam Najibi, El Correo