The Future Is Handmade

International Women's Day celebrates women everywhere and the contributions we bring to society. To mark the occasion, we bring you an extract from the current issue about a woman who is working at the forefront of ethical fashion:

Carla Fernandez's work is about transforming tradition into contemporary art. She does it through fashion and through collaborations with artisans and artists all over Mexico. She looks with the eyes of an activist at the immense treasure that Mexico can contribute to the world by sharing its traditions. ‘Haute couture is found in the mountains in Mexico, in the heights of Chiapas, in the Mixteca coast, in the canyons of the Tarahumara where people have 5,000 years of experience in their craft… Clothing made by hand is more than just fashion; it’s an expression of our essential humanity,’ the designer affirms.

Her motto ‘zero waste’ defines her processes from the roots to the final creations and it is deeply connected to her knowledge of indigenous Mexican dress. Through her travels and research, and from her passion for everything Mexican, Carla came to understand Mexico’s pre-Columbian way of constructing clothes, which involves using every part of the fabric.

Carla documents and preserves the rich textile heritage of Mexico's indigenous communities, while simultaneously making it avant-garde. She travels extensively throughout Mexico and works in tandem with artisans – hand spinners, weavers, embroiderers and garment-makers – going beyond the realm of fashion design. Her work empowers communities, mostly women by respecting, highlighting and taking their work forward. Her production is ethical and revolutionary in its respect of intellectual property, a movement against viewing artisans as sources of labour. She has also compiled a robust archive of textile traditions for future generations. For Carla, textiles are a binding force and a new way to embrace the future.

You can read the whole article by Marcella Echavarria in the current issue. Images by Ramiro Chaves.

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