When Mariana Villeme was studying fashion in Mexico, she was once asked to make a collection inspired by a little community named Gualupita. Little did she know at the time that it will be the starting point of a life project : Jauja. Working side by side with local artisans from different communities around the country, Mariana founded this fair trade social entreprise focusing on the insertion of traditional textile artisans into the contemporary textile process.
The team members are Uriel Ramírez, mexican fashion designer, Mariel Tapia fabric designer, and 30 women between 19 and 50 years old who come from two different communites: the Temoya community and the Santa Mónica Tulancigo community. Both communities are “Otomíes” or “Hñahñu”, as they called themselves, an indigenous ethnic group located in the central area of Mexico’s territory. The name “Otomí” is a Nahuatl word that means “Bird shooter” or “the ones who walk with arrows” and refers to the military alliances they made with the Spanish to conquer most of the territory. With an ancient tradition of warriors, the women always stayed at home taking care of the children and the house errands, not being able to get a job outside their house, even today. Nowadays the traditional textile artisans don’t have a regular income; they usually make house clothing or crafts that are very time consuming and hard to sell at reasonable and fair prices. Most of the women make their pieces and go to the city to sell them. Somedays they succeed and others they have to come back empty handed.
Jauja is building a link between artisans and designers by coming back to Mexican roots through this beautiful ancient embroidery technique. In ancient Mexico, every girl was taught at an early age how to weave and embroider, preserving the technique and iconography from their family and community. Women from any social class knew how to embroider, the only difference being the materials and complexity of the designs. Thanks to the oral tradition some of the techniques and imagery have been preserved, but less and less people want to keep doing it because it is not seen as a profitable occupation.
By professionalizing this savoir faire, Jauja offers the possibility for emerging designers to explore new territories in their creation and, at the same time, creates a regular source of income for these forgotten communities.
Kilometre has been working with Jauja since the very beginning of the brand. In both ways, the collaboration is compatible. Jauja embodies every value we believe, from the power of tradition to the luxury of craft. Gathering our different cultures and knowledge, we are trying to build together a meaningful fashion.