SAN CRISTOBAL DE LAS CASAS, Mexico (Reuters) – Indigenous weaver and fashion designer Alberto López knew that he wanted to be a traditional weaver from the beginning, but there was a problem: the artisans who worked on the looms of his village in the lush mountains from southern Mexico they were all women.
Alberto López, a Mexican indigenous fashion designer and weaver who makes traditional garments with elaborately embroidered patterns, checks a blouse in his shop in San Cristóbal de las Casas, in the state of Chiapas, Mexico, January 15, 2020. REUTERS / Isabel Mateos
Undeterred, Lopez, a Mayan Tzotzil, convinced his mother to let him get away from the cornfields, the expected place for men like him, and embrace his passion for making traditional embroidered blouses known as huipiles and other garments.
“I am doing what I want to do, representing my people, and especially my female colleagues,” the 31-year-old woman told Reuters.
Later this month, Lopez will show his art at a conference at Harvard University and then at a show that celebrates the indigenous style in New York on the eve of Fashion Week, where superstar designers like Tom Ford and Vera Wang promote their new lines.
A world away in San Cristóbal de las Casas, a beautiful colonial city famous for its indigenous Mayan culture, López makes handmade huipiles with cotton or wool threads and natural pigments to create patterns full of color.
“In each place you leave your mark, you leave your soul,” he said.
He explains that huipiles, traditionally for women, but a garment that he also likes to wear, can take up to a year to manufacture and require meticulous attention to detail.
Work may also require a type of dialogue. ” Sometimes I have a conversation with my threads. I feel that the thread also feels what you are doing, “he said.
With a smile of complicity, he adds that he does it when there is no one else, especially when the thread is being difficult.
“I say it,‘ Oh, why do you do that? Why do you fight?
Lopez attributes his American invitations to a viral video of a German documentary last year, and said he had to fight to get a passport and a visa to make the trip.
“I will explain the worldview behind each garment,” he said proudly.
The name of his shop, Lopez’s K’uxul Pok huipiles collection will be shown at the show “American Indian Fashion Through the Feathers” in New York on February 2, days after he speaks at a thematic conference in Mexico at Harvard.
Reports by José Cortés; Written by David Alire García; Editing by Sonya Hepinstall