Category Archives: Clothing Design

Bargain Shopping and Cheap Eats in Oaxaca

Is it possible to find and buy high quality textiles in Oaxaca at bargain prices? That was my question yesterday as Chris and I returned to Oaxaca city for her last day here on this visit. She loves to shop at thrift stores and on sale. I do, too, but I’m always on a quest for top quality. I don’t know thrift or consignment shops in Oaxaca (except for one listed below) where one can purchase good, gently worn handwoven Oaxaca clothing. I have favorites in Taos and Santa Fe.

Chris wanted to go back to Lake Chapala with a couple of Oaxaca huipiles. So, I named this day of foraging: Low Brow Shopping (more based on pocketbook limitations than taste) and set about to show her a few favorite places where I know the quality is very good and the prices much more affordable than the collectors’ galleries I know about. Often, these are the places that cater to locals, too.

The quest: How can we find a beautiful huipil or blusa for under $100 USD?

As for eating, in my humble opinion, its definitely possible to eat well in small comedors and restaurants that are not on the Andador Macedonio Alcala or adjacent streets like Garcia Virgil, Cinco de Mayo and Reforma. This is the hub of the tourist center and prices are higher here because rents are higher. To find, good cheap eats, go to the auxiliary streets and neighborhoods that are several blocks away. I still rarely, if ever, eat at food stalls on the street, mostly because of sanitation issues.

Three Favorite Oaxaca Bargain Shopping Recommendations (can you recommend others?)

  • Hilo de Nube. These blusas and huipiles are handmade and embroidered in San Juan Guichicovi, a town in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec. The style is very distinctive to the region that offered a type of dress favored by Frida Kahlo. The Oaxaca shop is located at M. Bravo #214, Oaxaca Centro. Here, blouses start at $30 USD. They combine free-form, human-guided chain stitching embroidered by machine. Prices go up based on intricacy of design, and if the garment incorporates hand-embroidered stitching, too. Base cloth is high quality cotton, linen, or sateen. My friend Susie introduced this shop to me and I’m passing it along to you as a go-to spot for bargain-hunting fashionistas.
  • Shop with No Name! I can’t give you a link because there is none. This shop is located just the other side of the Zocalo at Bustamante #119 about mid-block on the left between Guerrero and Colon, near musical instruments and CD shops. It is operated by Lilia Gonzales Bolaños. Telephone: 52-951-169-5965. What makes this shop great is that if you know your textiles, you can find excellent designer pieces hidden on the racks between the lesser quality goods. Perfect for the huntress in you! Look for the whimsical smocked blouses from San Pablo Tijaltepec, gauzy and finely woven cloth from San Mateo del Mar, natural dyes from Pinotepa de Don Luis.
  • Artesanias Que Tenga Buena Mano. Operated by Francisco Hernandez, this little shop is found on Calle de Constituccion tucked into a step-down almost basement location next to Casa Oaxaca Restaurant. Textile offerings are limited but of excellent quality at fair prices. I even saw a piece woven by Teofila Palafox from San Mateo del Mar. Francisco also designs filigree jewelry and there is a good collection of pieces here, as well as funky folk art. Don’t blink or you might miss it.
  • La Selva de los Gatos. The Cat Jungle! An all-vegan cat cafe & pet adoption center located at the corner of Calle Abasolo and Calle de la Republica, features a boutique of gently-worn clothing (I guess this qualifies as a thrift shop) they sell to raise funds to spay, neuter and adopt out stray cats that have been rescued. The vegan cafe serves up reasonably priced fare — eat a play with the cats, too.

Get a Oaxaca Lunch for Under $10 USD

Ok, we are not going to regurgitate the top-level $$$$ dining spots operated by award-winning chefs that show up on every travel site — the ones like Conde Nast Traveler or Travel and Leisure or Food & Wine — that recommend Casa Oaxaca, Origen, Criollo, Los Danzantes, Restaurante Catedral, Levadura de la Olla. At these spots, you can easily spend $25-45 USD per person for lunch, which is fine if you are on a limitless budget or splurge vacation. Here, a mezcal cocktail can cost you $12 USD, too.

At the humble comedors, the food is simple although it can also be complex. Wash it down with a good Mexican beer — Victoria, Negro Modelo, Tecate or Sol — or select a fruit water such as Agua de Pepino con Limon (cucumber and lime), Agua de Jamaica (hibiscus), or Agua de Sandia (watermelon). Good to give your wallet a break from time to time.

  • Cabuche. This has been a long-time cheap eats favorite. Restaurant is owned by Rodrigo Fuentes Moreno who carved out his niche after leaving La Biznaga some years back. Pozole and tacos reign here. Lots of vegetarian options. You can get a big or small bowl of pozole, with white, red, or green stock, with vegetarian, chicken or pork options. The hominy is plump and delicious. My dish with pork was tender and easily chewed. Take your pick of taco fillings: huitlacoche, potatoes and chorizo, tinga de pollo, calabacitas, and more. Hidalgo #1017, in the block beyond the textile museum going away from the Zocalo.
  • Casa Taviche. Go another block further on the left to find this hidden gem that many of us find to be among the best comedors in the city. The Comida Corrida, the three-course fixed price lunch offered by many places, comes with appetizer, entree, dessert and a glass of fruit water for under $10 USD here. Order a la carte and it can be more. Hidalgo #1111.
  • Casa Bestia. I had a delicious brunch here a couple of weeks ago with Carol, Dean, Kay and Winn. It’s billed as an art gallery and co-working space, but it features a lovely outdoor dining area under some amazing shade trees. You can also find hand-made clothing in the gallery. They offer workshops and cooking classes, too. The kitchen serves up delicious gluten-free oatmeal pancakes and excellent lunch fare at moderate prices. Very relaxing. Located in the Conzatti Park neighborhood of Oaxaca. Gomez Farias #114.

Got recommendations for Cheap Eats and Bargain Shopping? Write us here!

What to look for when Bargain Shopping? Tips for discerning quality!

  1. What is the quality of the cloth? Is it 100% cotton or is it mixed with polyester?
  2. Do know for certain that the textile isn’t made in China? So much of what is sold on the street are Chinese knock-offs. Buyer beware!
  3. Turn the garment inside out. How are the seams finished? Will the threads unravel? Are the seams machine stitched or finished by hand? Are the stitches tight and even? A French seam with no exposed selvedge will hold up the longest.
  4. Are the threads naturally dyed or are these commercial threads? Are the dyes prone to bleeding or running (commercial or synthetic dyes will run if they haven’t been pre-washed)
  5. If the garment is back-strap loomed, are there any snags or imperfections? Do the patterns line up or are they mismatched?
  6. If there is embroidery, turn it inside out and look at the embroidered threads to discern whether they will hold up after several wearings.
  7. Can you wash this garment by hand and hang to dry or does it need to be dry-cleaned?
  8. Can the vendor tell you who made it and where it was made?
  9. Do you love it or are you buying it because of price?

Want to buy directly from the maker? Want access to Oaxaca state’s most important weavers who are renowned for their finest workmanship? Come with us on The Collector’s Tour!

2024 Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour

Arrive on Saturday, January 13 and depart on Monday, January 22, 2024 — 9 nights, 10 days in textile heaven!

We go deep, and not wide. We give you an intimate, connecting experience. We spend time to know the culture. You will meet artisans in their homes and workshops, enjoy local cuisine, dip your hands in an indigo dye-bath, and travel to remote villages you may never get to on your own. This study tour focuses on revival of ancient textile techniques and Oaxaca’s vast weaving culture that encompasses the use of natural dyes, back-strap loom weaving, drop spindle hand spinning, and glorious, pre-Hispanic native cotton in warm brown called coyuchi, verde (green) and creamy white. We cover vast distances on secondary roads, traveling to secluded mountain villages. This tour is for the most adventurous textile travelers! For hardy travelers only!

At Oaxaca Cultural Navigator, we aim to give you an unparalleled and in-depth travel experience to participate and delve deeply into indigenous culture, folk art and celebrations. To register, please complete the Registration Form and email it to us. When you tell us you are ready to register, we will send you a request to make your reservation deposit.

Cost is $3,395 per person shared room or $4,195 per person for private room. See details and itinerary below.

Please complete this Registration Form and return to Norma Schafer at norma.schafer@icloud.com to participate. Thank you.

This entire study tour is focused on exploring the textiles of Oaxaca’s Costa Chica. You arrive to and leave from Puerto Escondido (PXM), connecting through Mexico City or Oaxaca. You might like to read about why on the Oaxaca coast, it’s about the cloth, not the cut.

Villages along the coast and neighboring mountains were able to preserve their traditional weaving culture because of their isolation. The Spanish could not get into those villages until the late 18th century. Much now is the same as it was then. Stunning cotton is spun and woven into lengths of cloth connected with intricate needlework to form amazing garments. Beauty and poverty are twin sisters here.

What we do:

  • We visit 7 weaving villages in Oaxaca and Guerrero
  • We meet back-strap loom weavers, natural dyers, spinners
  • We see, touch, smell native Oaxaca cotton — brown, green, natural
  • We participate in a sea turtle release with sunset dinner on the beach
  • We swim in a rare bioluminescence lagoon
  • We visit three local markets to experience daily life
  • We travel to remote regions to discover amazing cloth
  • We learn about Afro-Mexican identity on the Pacific Coast
  • We support indigenous artisans directly
  • We escape WINTER in El Norte

Take this study tour to learn about:

  • the culture, history, and identity of cloth
  • beating and spinning cotton, and weaving with natural dyes
  • native seed preservation and cultivation
  • clothing design and construction, fashion adaptations
  • symbols and meaning of regional textile designs
  • choice of colors and fibers that show each woman’s aesthetic while keeping with a particular village traje or costume
  • the work of women in pre-Hispanic Mexico and today

PRELIMINARY  ITINERARY

  • Saturday, January 13: Fly to Puerto Escondido—overnight in Puerto Escondido, Group Welcome Dinner at 6:30 p.m. Meals included: Dinner
  • Sunday, January 14: Puerto Escondido market meander, lunch, and afternoon on your own. Late afternoon departure for turtle release and Manialtepec bioluminescence lagoon with beach dinner.  Overnight in Puerto Escondido. Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
  • Monday, January 15: Depart after breakfast for Tututepec to visit a young Mixtec weaver who is reviving his village’s textile traditions, visit local museum and murals. We will enjoy a home-cooked meal with a regional mole dish prepared by the family. Travel by van several hours north to Ometepec, Guerrero. Overnight in Ometepec. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch
  • Tuesday, January 16: After breakfast, we go to Zacoalpan, a bygone Amusgo village where Jesus Ignacio and his family weave native coyuchi, green and natural white cotton to make traditional huipiles. They are rescuing designs from fragments of ancient cloth. Then, we have lunch in nearby Xochistlahuaca with an outstanding weaving cooperative that creates glorious, diaphanous textiles embellished with a palette of colorful designs reflecting the flora of the region. Overnight in Ometepec.
  • Wednesday, January 17: After breakfast, we visit downtown Ometepec , then make a stop at the Afro-Mexican Museum to learn about the rich cultural history and traditions of the region populated by Mexicans whose roots are from Africa and the slave trade. We continue to Pinotepa Nacional for a late lunch and to check into our hotel. Enjoy an expoventa and demonstration with embroiderers. Overnight in Pinotepa Nacional. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch.
  • Thursday, January 18:  After breakfast, we explore the Pinotepa Nacional market, the largest in the region, where you may find hand-woven agave fiber tote bags, masks, textiles, and embroidered collars, as well as household goods and food. Then, we travel about an hour to the weaving village of San Juan Colorado for a home cooked lunch and visit two women’s cooperatives working in natural dyes, hand-spinning, and back strap loom weaving. Overnight in Pinotepa Nacional.  Meals included: Breakfast and lunch
  • Friday, January 19: After breakfast, we go back up the mountain to the village of Pinotepa de Don Luis to meet noted weavers who work with naturally dyed cotton. Here, we will see jicara gourd carvers, too, who make jewelry and serving containers. We have lunch with Tixinda Cooperative members who are licensed to harvest the purple snail dye. In this village, the almost extinct caracol purpura snail is the traditional color accent for many textiles. Overnight in Pinotepa Nacional. Meals included: Breakfast and lunch
  • Saturday, January 20: After breakfast, we begin our return to Puerto Escondido, a two-and-a-half-hour van ride. The rest of the day is on your own to explore, relax and pack. Lunch and dinner on your own. Overnight in Puerto Escondido. Meals included: Breakfast
  • Sunday, January 21: This is a free day to return to the market, pack, relax and enjoy the beach across the street from the hotel, or the two swimming pools on the property.  We gather at 5:30 p.m. for our Grand Finale Celebration Dinner. Overnight in Puerto Escondido. Meals included: Breakfast and dinner
  • Monday, January 22: Depart for home. Meals included: None

Note: You can add days on to the tour — arrive early or stay later — at your own expense. We also suggest you arrive a day early (your own hotel expense) to avoid any unforeseen winter flight delays.

Cost to Participate

  • $3,395 shared double room with private bath (sleeps 2)
  • $4,195 for a single supplement (private room and bath, sleeps 1)

Your Oaxaca Cultural Navigator: Eric Chavez Santiago

Eric Chavez Santiago is a Oaxaca Cultural Navigator partner with Norma Schafer. He joined us in 2022.  Eric is an expert in Oaxaca and Mexican textiles and folk art with a special interest in artisan development and promotion. He is a weaver and natural dyer by training and a fourth-generation member of a distinguished weaving family, the Fe y Lola textile group. He and his wife Elsa Sanchez Diaz started Taller Teñido a Mano dye studio where they produce naturally dyed yarn skeins and textiles for worldwide distribution. He is trilingual, speaking Zapotec, Spanish and English and is a native of Teotitlan del Valle. He is a graduate of Anahuac University, founder of the Museo Textil de Oaxaca education department, and former managing director of the Harp Helu Foundation folk-art gallery Andares del Arte Popular. He has intimate knowledge of local traditions, culture, and community and personally knows all the artisans we visit on this tour.

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator Founder Norma Schafer may participate in all or part of this tour.

We have invited a noted cultural anthropologist to travel with us. She did her thesis in a nearby textile village and has worked in the region for the past 15 years. She knows the textile culture and people intimately, too. Together, we learn about and discuss motifs, lifestyle, endangered species, quality, and value of direct support.

We sell out each year so don’t hesitate to make your registration deposit ASAP if you are interested in participating.

Some Vocabulary and Terms

Who Should Attend

  • Explorers of indigenous cloth, native fibers
  • Collectors, curators, and cultural appreciators
  • Textile and fashion designers
  • Retailers, wholesalers, buyers
  • Weavers, embroiderers, dyers, and sewists
  • Photographers and artists who want inspiration
  • Anyone who loves cloth, culture, and collaboration

Full Registration Policies, Procedures and Cancellations– Please READ

Reservations and Cancellations.  A $500 non-refundable deposit is required to guarantee your place. The balance is due in two equal payments. The second payment of 50% of the balance is due on or before August 1, 2023. The third payment, 50% balance, is due on or before November 1, 2023. We accept payment using Zelle, Venmo, PayPal or Square. For a Zelle transfer, there is no service fee.  We add a 3% service fee to use Venmo, PayPal or Square. We will send you a request for funds to make your deposit when you tell us you are ready to register.

After November 1, 2023, there are no refunds. If you cancel on or before November 1, 2023, we will refund 50% of your deposit received to date (less the $500 non-refundable deposit). After that, there are no refunds UNLESS we cancel for any reason. If we cancel, you will receive a full 100% refund.*

Required–Travel Health/Accident Insurance: We require that you carry international accident/health insurance that includes $50,000+ of emergency medical evacuation insurance. Check out Forbes Magazine for best travel insurance options. https://www.forbes.com/advisor/travel-insurance/best-travel-insurance/

Proof of insurance must be sent at least 45 days before departure.

About COVID. Covid is still with us and new variants continue to arise. We request proof of lastest COVID-19 vaccination and all boosters to be sent 45 days before departure. We ask that you test two days before traveling to the tour, and that you send us the results. During the tour, we ask that you do a self-test 48 hours after arrival and then periodically thereafter if you feel you have been exposed. Facemasks are strongly suggested for van travel, densely populated market visits, and artisan visits that are held indoors. We ask this to keep all travelers safe, and to protect indigenous populations who are at higher risk.

Be certain your passport has at least six months on it before it expires from the date you enter Mexico! It’s a Mexico requirement.

On the Oaxaca Coast, It’s About the Cloth, Not the Cut

On the Oaxaca Coast, it’s about the cloth, not the cut. Why? Because lengths of cloth meticulously woven on the back strap loom are never cut. They are squares and rectangles that are joined together at right angles to create a garment. The garment construction never has darts, either. Nor is it form-fitting. Plus, the finish work is all done by hand. Women who weave on the Oaxaca coast and elsewhere in Mexico believe the cloth is a reflection of their souls and has spiritual, mystical symbolism. A cut in the cloth is a travesty that would never be acceptable. In thinking about this, I recall it’s been about fifty years since I’ve seen a self-made button hole on any garment in the USA. I learned to make these in junior high school home economics, but it seems the skill may be lacking now or that fast fashion prevents this attention to detail. I don’t attend the Paris Couture shows, so don’t know if a multi-thousand dollar jacket even has button holes or how they are made!

Years back, for her thesis, the Mexico City designer Carla Fernandez wrote a book, now out of print, Taller Flora, in 2006. If you can find a used copy somewhere and you are interested in indigenous clothing construction and design, you might try to find this online, though the price will be hefty!

So, to go with us on the Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour is to go deeply into indigenous weaving and natural dyeing culture that includes how ancient garments, still made and used today, are made. I’m writing this because in Western fashion, we are so concerned with fit and the shape of our form. If something doesn’t fit right, we are inclined to be self-critical about our body shape rather than the inherent beauty of how it is made. Here, we can focus on the quality of the weaving, the meaningful designs incorporated in the cloth using a weaving technique call embordado or supplementary weft, and the drape of the cloth, rather than if it hugs our body (for good or bad!). This clothing frees us to focus on something else rather than body image.

Often, when people first look at a handwoven textile, they think the design embedded in the cloth is embroidered, a surface design technique of stitching on a piece of plain weave. Not so here! Cloth is woven on a loom that is warped with thread. Then, the weft, or horizontal threads are added row by row. This is a long process and it can take several months to make two, four or six wefts or lengths of cloth to construct a huipil, depending on the desired width of the finished piece. The designs integrated into the cloth are part of the weaving process. Individual threads are added, again row by row, to form a pattern that women keep in their heads. I think it is part of their DNA, something learned from mothers and grandmothers and great grandmothers. The cloth is their heritage.

2024 Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour coming soon! Get on the list. Send an email.

Almost all these garments are cotton, though some can be made with wool. The Spaniards brought sheep to the Americas and native peoples loved the warmth the cloth provided. Before that, everything here was pre-Hispanic native cotton, which we find cultivated and used in villages along the Oaxaca coast foothills. Becoming more rare now is the coyuchi (native brown cotton the color of a coyote), green cotton (pale mint or military green), and creamy white cotton.

All of these must be grown, harvested, picked clean of seeds, beaten to separate and soften the fibers, hand-spun using the malacate (drop spindle), formed into balls, wrapped onto spindles, and then woven into cloth. Even before the weaving begins, this is a labor-intensive process. Often, the white cotton is dyed with natural materials: wild marigold, indigo, cochineal, tree bark, squash pulp, caracol purpura purple snails, leaves and seeds of various fruits and vegetables. The dye materials need to be collected and prepared in dye vats. It is alchemy and chemistry. Then, according to the choice of each artisan, the threads are dyed before weaving or the garment is dyed after it is completed.

As we plan for our 2024 Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour, I write this to give you a sense of the importance of keeping this weaving culture viable. Very few indigenous women, except those in remote communities, continue to wear their distinctive clothing on a daily basis, instead saving them for fiestas and other special occasions. The garment they wove for their wedding will go to the grave with them. This is the reason very few vintage garments exist.

Appreciators and collectors of handmade textiles are doing much to revive interest and support the economy that gives women an opportunity to monetize their skills, encouraging them to continue the traditions. Most often, it is the women who are able to earn a cash income to supplement the work the men do as subsistence farmers. The men all grow the same food — corn, beans and squash — so there is no selling opportunity unless they take their produce to a regional market. It is the women who pay for the education and health care of their children, grandchildren, and aging parents. There is no social security in Mexico. Each family is responsible for taking care of their own.

We wrote a blog earlier this week about being a Oaxaca Fiberista. You might want to look at this for examples of garments, too.

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator : Norma Schafer

Oaxaca Cultural Navigator : Norma Schafer

What is a Oaxaca Fiberista?

My friend Carol Egan from Savannah who has wintered in Oaxaca for almost 20 years uses the term Fiberista to describe those of us who love and wear (and who demonstrate cultural appreciation for) clothing made on the back-strap loom by the very talented indigenous weavers of Oaxaca. Carol is a graduate of RISD (Rhode Island School of Design) and she has an impeccable sense of color and style. Maybe Fiberista is an adaptation of Fashionista, a word that has been part of the Urban Dictionary vocabulary for a while, though likely applied mostly to those who follow haute couture. Fiberistas have an affinity for the handmade textile. We are sewists, knitters, dyers, designers, spinners, embroiderers, crocheters, weavers, photographers, artists, and artisans or we just appreciate the texture of beautiful cloth. We know we have something to learn from indigenous cultures.

Our mantra on the Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour is to gain a greater cultural appreciation for the women and men who make garments from scratch — the talented people who grow native Oaxaca green, white and coyuchi (brown) cotton that goes back to before the Spanish Conquest. This is why we visit remote mountain villages — to see the traditional techniques, uncover the designs (or iconography) in the woven patterns that are an integral part of the cloth, and to show our support by being able to purchase directly to put much needed funds into the hands of the makers.

Next Oaxaca Coast Textile Study Tour will be in mid-January 2024. Get on the interested list! Email us!

We don’t believe that we are appropriating another culture by wearing the garments they make. We believe we are supporting and sustaining women and families. Without our admiration and support, their ancient back-strap loom weaving art form will be lost to future generations. Today, not many women in traditional pueblos are wearing traditional traje (costumes). They have adopted Western-style dress, which enables them to fit in and assimilate into the larger, dominant community. This clothing, usually made with synthetic fibers, is easier to wash and dry, too. So, the huipiles we have gone in search of are brought out only for special celebrations. That is why our visits are so important.

It takes an extraordinary amount of labor to make one of these garments. First, the seeds are picked from the cotton bolls, to save for the next planting. Then, the cotton is beaten with sticks after it is laid on a rolled woven straw mat inside of which is stuffed corn stalks and leaves. It is then hand-spun with a malacate or drop spindle. If it is green or coyuchi cotton, both quite rare, it will be woven in its natural state and not dyed. Sometimes, the native white cotton is dyed with natural pigments — indigo, cochineal, wild marigold, or tree bark, for example. Fine commercial threads, purchased from the last cotton mill in the State of Puebla, will also be dyed. Then, it will be the man’s task to warp the back-strap loom. It usually takes a women three to four-months to make a complete full-length huipil, weaving five to six-hours per day. She will tie one end of the loom to a post or a tree, tie the waist harness around her, get on her knees or sit cross-legged, moving her body to create the weaving tension, swaying back and forth in a gentle motion.

We bring eye glasses with us to distribute. If the brocade or supplementary weft of the designs in the woven cloth is intricate, this takes a toll on a weaver’s vision. So many say they now have difficulty seeing. So, it is a blessing to be able to give reading glasses to the many groups in five communities we visit along our route from Puerto Escondido, Oaxaca, north to Xochistlahuaca, Guerrero.

Think of fashion as an art form, extolls one source I researched. This is not difficult to do on the coast of Oaxaca, where diversity of weaving techniques, colors and designs tell stories of ancient myths and beliefs. Look at the stars, animals, sun, moon, plants woven into the cloth to learn about how rooted these communities are in the natural world and their social history. We embrace this as the world has become more commercialized, mechanized; as our attention spans have shortened with instant information and gratification, as we cannot leave our smart phones behind for even a minute. However, we are careful not to romanticize. The economic poverty is palpable. The talent is immeasurable.

We go deep into Mixtec, Zapotec, Chatino and Amusgo territory. We hear languages uncommon to our ear. We travel to villages where few who look like us dare to venture. Not because it isn’t safe, but because it takes hours to reach a remote destination. The Spanish friars never penetrated deeply into these mountain towns until the 18th century because they were so inaccessible. We are intrepid travelers who are interested in discovery!

What we find are people who want to educate their children, provide them with good food and health care, access to opportunity, who are not interested in out-migration unless all other options are closed to them. They want the same things that we do for our own families. And, this is what connects us.

Traditional indigenous clothing is not form fitting. It is lengths of squares or rectangles that are sewn together using a needlework joining technique called a randa, that looks a bit like embroidery. This means, the garment is not tight-fitting. It is loose and airy, and will drape beautifully if the woven fabric is lightweight. This is style we come to appreciate since this is a different look than we are used to. Sometimes, the skirt or dress can be tied with a belt. In all instances, the stand-out quality is not so much the structure of the garment but the weaving techniques used to create designs woven as an integral part of the cloth. The more complex and dense the design, the more costly a garment will be. Price is often related to the quality of the materials used — finest cotton and natural dyes are what we are looking for.

The experience broadens our view of how we dress ourselves. We know that the New York and Paris runways are not the only source for beautiful inspiration.

The day before our tour ended, we gathered under the palapa by the upper pool at Hotel Santa Fe, for a show and tell. We each brought three pieces we purchased along the way, and we wore one more. We then talked about the experience of where we got these, who wove them, what dyes were used, and what designs were incorporated into the cloth. It was a way to review our visits and to see others’ choices. Being Oaxaca Fiberistas!

Take Another 10% Off Leftovers (Not Talking Turkey)

Still many great pieces remain from recent sales, discounts, markdowns. Browse these links for great gifts, home decor, stylish fashion from amazing weavers of Mexico — mostly Oaxaca and Chiapas.

How to Buy: Send an email to norma.schafer@icloud.comand tell me the item(s) you want to purchase by number, your email, your mailing address and which payment method you prefer: 1) Zelle bank transfer with no service fee; 2) Venmo or 3) PayPal each with a 3% service fee. I will send you a request for funds and then add on a flat rate $14 mailing fee. Happy to combine shipping if you buy more than one piece. These are one-of-a-kind. Note: Thank you for understanding that all sales are final. Please measure carefully.