What do Mexicans and 1960’s hippies have in common? No, it’s probably not whatever it is you were thinking. The correct answer is huaraches!
Huaraches are a hand-made leather sandal with a unique braiding. Originally a staple of Mexican culture, the huarache gained popularity in the 1960’s in the United States as part of the hippie lifestyle.
Today, most huaraches come from Michoacan, where there are hundreds of artisans working daily creating different styles for every generation. The shoe is such an important part of Mexican culture that Sahuayo, a city in Michoacan where you can find the biggest huaraches markets and stores, is known as “The Huarache City”.
It’s no surprise that you can find huaraches in a variety of Mexican cities, but how about the United States?
Espiritu is a high-quality Mexican huaraches brand that is based in the United States. Founded by lifelong best friends Oscar Yapor and Francisco Alvarez, the two Mexicans have created a California based brand that preserves the traditional Mexican techniques for creating huaraches.
I had the opportunity to speak with Oscar and what impressed me most about him is his commitment to giving back to the Mexican community. I really admire how Espiritu works exclusively with Native Mexican artisans and makes sure each of their shoes are organically sourced and ethically made.
How Espíritu started
It all started when the two lifelong best friends traveled to Michoacan, Mexico and came back with tons of souvenirs, including a pair of authentic huaraches hand-crafted by the natives of Michoacan. Walking the streets of their old hometown of Denver, Oscar and Francisco received non-stop compliments about their new sandals with everyone wanting to know where they bought the huaraches.
Seeing the opportunity, Oscar and Francisco decided to import some pairs of huaraches to the US and sell them at a local street market.
The sandals were an instant success, and the two Mexicans quickly realized the potential of the business and decided to create Espiritu.
The main difference between Espiritu and other huaraches brands is their commitment to promoting the work of the Mexican artisans. Every Espiritu sandal is created and packaged by the Mexican artisanal community, providing more work opportunities to an often overlooked group of people. They also make sure to pay each worker fairly for their highly skilled work.
Now that you’ve met the Mexican sandal brand making a cultural splash in the American fashion industry, take a look at all their amazing handmade huaraches at Espiritu.com, where you can find a variety of styles and colors that you’ll absolutely love!
If you want to learn more about the brand, watch the interview we had with their founders here!