When channeling a designer’s inner creative genius, Guatemala certainly provides a fertile ground for inspiration. Fusing fashion with heritage, young designers are embracing Maya traditions to create haute couture collections, like Morralito’s fashion accessories and home décor.
Ana Tanner and Argenis Nunez, the co-founders of Morralito, found their creative nirvana in the Western Highlands of Guatemala, in Quetzaltenango, home to the country’s best-known Maya textiles, where the handwoven fabrics are not only beautiful but culturally meaningful. Using beautiful, high quality and vibrantly colored Guatemalan Mayan textiles, the skilled artisans employed by Morralito lovingly craft each item by weaving and looming the textiles using the traditional back strap loom which is tied around their waist.
The back strap loom technique has been passed down from Guatemalan mothers to their daughters since ancient times. It requires great skill and artisans devote years of time and effort to hone the skills they need to produce their exquisite work. At one point, skills like the back strap loom technique seemed to be in danger of dying out. However, thanks to organized weavers communities and fair trade programs, interest in this treasured cultural legacy is growing; every day increasing numbers of artisan women in Guatemala’s rural southwest take an interest in learning it. With the help of fair trade programs, they are now able to share their delicately lovely creations with buyers around the world and earn a fair wage for their work, thus ensuring this treasured Mayan heritage craft will be preserved for generations to come.
In the southern foothills of the Sierra Madre mountains—the other side of the mountains from where the textiles have been woven, craftswomen are waiting for the textiles to start making the final products. All the leather cutting, sewing and stitching are hand-made. “Because of the richness and complexity of the design, it takes nearly a month to finish each piece. “Each piece tells a story from the loving hands that crafted it. The Guatemalan artisans weave all of their creativity, experience and spirit into every small detail. We believe that each item has a life and soul of its own, but also a quality beyond comparison, able to touch, seduce and please our clients,” said Ana
Ana is also concerned about minimizing Morralito’s impact on the environment and only uses sustainable forest wood in her collections and Azo-free dyes. Azo dyes have been shown to damage ecosystems when discharged into the water and may pose health risks to humans.
For more information: www.morralitos.com.