When former Miss Guatemala, Alida Boer started her collection of hand-embroidered bags by women in her native Guatemala, what was to come was everything she’d hope for. Alida had the dream of bringing to the world the most refined textiles with an ancient heritage and a social conscience. We were able to catch up with Alida and hew new creative director, Edgar Navarro, during New York Fashion Week Fall/Winter 2016.
Boer, who held the Miss Guatemala title in 2007, was inspired to launch her line after seeing the reaction the local material received internationally. “The bags use “huipil,” the fabric from “the blouse, the local garment,” says Boer. As with anything that is handcrafted, the bags are an eye catcher, “I took it to London, and I was wearing it one day with jeans, and everyone stopped me asking ‘where did you get this?’” Boer said.
The bags go with everything and are one of kind, rich looking and the quality of the embroidery is something you’ll find in Paris. The techniques that are used are learned from generation to generation of weaving of the now five hundred women that work on each bag from their homes.
“Each textile has a story behind it, each piece of fabric is made by an artist” says Edgar. They call it technicolor and four regions which are the most colorful regions in Guatemala are chosen when compiling their elements. Every region has its unique designs: the fine embroidery covers geometric shapes, animals, landscapes, flowers and, in some cases, narrates stories and legends.
Each bag, depending on the complexity and fabric of it, can take anywhere from four to six to create. The most complicated ones can take up to a year per Edgar.
Maria’s bag supports women from underdeveloped communities with training in sewing, embroidery and design, and by providing jobs with fair pay.
The bags can be found at the Maria’s Bag flagship store in Guatemala, the U.S. and in London. Please visit www.mariasbags.co.uk for more information.