Very Ancient/Very Modern

Chamuchic’s artisan-made line of accessories turns traditional backstrap brocades into contemporary fashion.

Chamuchic’s name says it all: it combines Chamula, the name of an indigenous Mexican ethnic group, with chic – a French word appropriated by the fashion world.  

In both process and product, Chamuchic moves between Mexican weavers and the global fashion market. The company works with five backstrap weavers from San Andres Larrainzar, as well as a dozen talented seamstresses and other team members, in the highlands of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas to design and create fashion accessories that reflect today’s trends in color and form. “We collaborate in each step of our process. This way everyone shares responsibility and feels related to and proud of the end results. Proof that our system works is the exclusivity all our artisans give us – something that really doesn’t exist in their culture,” comment Chamuchic captains Karla Breceda and Claudia Munoz. 

Their line of clutch purses and accessories is made of traditional Chiapas brocades. “For many years, traditional textiles from Chiapas have been undervalued as a result of a sort of Colonial classicism. I think they deserve a place in the wider fashion market not only for their beauty, but for their importance in Mexican (and human) heritage. Let’s not forget that they are also well made and perform well in a fashion context,” says Karla.

The Mexican contemporary design market, which is experiencing an important boom in recent years, has embraced Chamuchic. Fashionable 25 year olds sport Chamuchic bags with as much enthusiasm as their equally fashionable mothers. This very ancient craft form looks perfectly at home on the very contemporary streets of Mexico City and elsewhere.

“Most of our pieces are made with a backstrap loom with the old brocade techniques of San Andrés Larráinzar, Chiapas. There are many traditional motifs still woven there, and we have picked 5 of them to use in our pieces: Corona, Yaxchilán, Rombos, Universo Tradicional and Ollita de Barro. The first one, Corona (which means crown) has almost become our signature motif. It is thought to be an evolution of the traditional Mayan diamond symbol of the Universe, an icon that over time, with Spanish influence, integrated a cross-like shape at its center,” explains Karla. “We edited the traditional color palette of over five different colors down to two. The change makes the pattern more visible and wearable.”

In August in their booth at Artisan Resource, a special handmade section of the NY Now wholesale trade show, Chamuchic will debut a new line of decorative pillows, also made of backstrap-woven fabrics. “We have three new pillow collections from new groups from Zinacantán, Aldama and San Juan Cancuc -- all in Chiapas. After working with their amazing brocaded motifs, we just couldn’t resist bringing them to New York. Their color palettes are richer than in our accesories line, especially in our special combination of stripes and brocaded geometrics. We are also rescuing some ancient Mayan motifs from vintage huipiles to give ancient Mayan patterns a new look,” says Karla, clearly looking forward to sharing them with customers this summer.

Visit Chamucic’s booth at the Artisan Resource® section of NY Now®, a wholesale trade show for the gift, home furnishings and accessories community.  See www.artisanresourceny.com for more.  For more information about Chamuchic: www.chamuchic.com.

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