BRINGING TRADITION TO THE FUTURE
New York Fashion Week 2020 marked the dawning of an undeniable Mexican indigenous presence in high fashion. A designer named Alberto López Gómez made his debut at the “American Indian Fashion Through the Feathers 2020” show.
López is the innovator behind the brand K’uxul Pok, a Tzotzil title that means “living garment.” His Tzotzil designs were on full display during his presentation at the show, as his runway models were draped in huipiles—traditional loose-fitting tunics—that he had crafted and embroidered by hand. López has transcended his humble beginnings as a campesino, or peasant farmer, and become an esteemed designer who captivates American audiences with his wondrous culture.
Mexican indigenous fashion professionals have made strides in their industry by embracing and drawing inspiration from their cultural background, resulting in truly remarkable works of art.
Karen Vega made history as the first Oaxacan model to be featured in Vogue Mexico, a significant milestone in her thriving career. Vega’s profound reverence for Oaxaca’s indigenous clothing fostered her interest in fashion, and her career began in childhood when she modeled dresses composed by local designer Pompi Garcia.
Still wearing Garcia’s creations at the age of 18, her wardrobe has expanded to encompass a multitude of Mexican designers, including the Oaxacan Rocinante. Vega aspires to use her status as a public figure to continue bringing her culture to the mainstream fashion industry, a goal made even more possible by the burgeoning fashion community in her home village.
Herrera and Brandon-Hanson
Jesus Herrera and Gabriel Brandon-Hanson are a married designer couple who have also taken inspiration from Mexican indigenous clothing. When they moved to Herrera’s country of origin, they visited its southern states, which piqued the duo’s interest in Mexican vintage fashion. Their travels compelled the couple to collect pieces from different areas and transform them into new garments.
Once running an Etsy boutique, the couple has now built a successful brand by employing the talents of business people and artisans across Mexico. In the same vein as Gómez, Herrera and Brandon-Hanson’s signature items are their huipiles, which are made available to wearers of all genders in honor of the grand Indigenous third-gender tradition called muxe.
Mexican indigenous fashion may currently occupy minimal space in the fashion industry, but trailblazing accomplishments by creatives determined to share their culture’s innovation with the rest of the world has ensured that traditional clothing will appear on more runways.