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Creating A Voice For Women Artisans With La Peony Clothing

by La Peony Clothing

Design director and founder Melony Huber’s earliest visions of La Peony Clothing were born the day she was approached with an opportunity to reshape a Mexico-based handbag line. 

“La Peony is slow fashion at its best. We focus on quality over quantity, ensuring that each limited-production piece stands the test of time, wear after wear. Our collections carry a message: that kindness toward the earth and its people can coexist with sophisticated, confident style as you capture life’s every precious moment.” - Melony Huber

Just south of the U.S. border lay several historic artisan villages, home to some of the world's most renowned textile artisans and weavers. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the rich textures and bright colors that naturally originate across the region of Oaxaca, Mexico. 

As a sustainable fashion brand, Melony wanted the La Peony’s pieces to be ethically made and incorporate Mexico’s enriching culture. Artisan expert and Professor Cristy Macfarland made that possible by connecting Melony with talented women artisans in Mexico.

What Are Oaxacan Textiles?

The conservation of textile traditions is important to us at La Peony Clothing. Historical and contemporary weaving techniques date back centuries. With Oaxaca being home to several indigenous communities, it's no surprise there are various unique textile traditions. 

In the past, hand-woven and hand-spun garments were primarily used for ceremonies and daily wear. Although the use and function of the clothing and its style have evolved, the creation process remains the same. Some woven goods are created on shuttles and produced on wood backstrap or pedal looms, while others are embroidered by hand. Communities continue to use natural dyes, fibers, and techniques in line with slow fashion. 

Cristy Macfarland: Preserving Traditions in Oaxaca 

We sat down with Cristy Macfarland, an extraordinary professor, entrepreneur, and our International Artisanal Consultant at La Peony Clothing.

What goes into the process of finding textiles and weaves from artisans?

There are a lot of factors to consider: the skills, techniques, materials, work processes, and experience of the artisans. Textiles may come from different origins and have various meanings related to their way of life and community. 

The tools are often made by artisans directly throughout the country. You can find different types, such as the backstrap loom or the pedal loom, as well as their different shapes and capacities.

How closely do you work with the artisans?

I have had the experience of collaborating with artisans from the academic path to entrepreneurship and now consulting with La Peony Clothing.

The work starts by understanding their capabilities, talents, techniques, designs, materials, production times, customs, and ways of life before exploring the possibilities of collaboration.

Why is it important to you that fashion businesses or designers collaborate with artisans?

Trends and new generations set a course in fashion with a focus on slow fashion, but the social problems concentrated in rural areas are always urgent. Fashion is a way to boost traditions and customs and create opportunities for all while following trends.

What is it about the job that inspires you? 

I love being a teacher. It's a talent I discovered very young, and I deeply fell in love with it. Being close to new generations and accompanying them in one of the most important decisions of their lives is inspiring! 

Equally inspiring is collaborating with artisans, learning from their talents, and promoting their work. It's not only extraordinary work full of culture and tradition, but also represents Mexico. As a Mexican, it not only inspires me, it fills me with pride.

What do you appreciate most about working with La Peony Clothing
Collaboration and social impact by opening opportunities for vulnerable groups such as artisans inspire me daily. 

The frequency of the trips depends on the project, the needs, and the objectives. Working with artisans is important for designing and crafting techniques. Understanding the processes and using the right tools can achieve the desired concept and affect the designs.