As we ease into winter, we're working hard to stay uplifted and remember the vivid colors that add some happiness to the rest of the seasons. We think there is no better way to celebrate color than looking at Otomi fabrics and learning more about how they are created. After all, Otomi was basically created to be adored by the whole Stray Dog Crew.
Also called Tenangos, this tradition of stitching was born in the Hidalgo region of Mexico and has been passed down for centuries. The embroidery style we see today grew from an increased need for income after Mexico suffered severe droughts in the 1960s.
We can't celebrate the beauty and craftsmanship of this tradition without bringing up the increased appropriation (and sometimes outright plagiarism) of their patterns, imagery, and style. This has been at the center of disputes with major companies like Nestlé, Carolina Herrera, and Benetton. (Our designer, Jane Gray wrote an article about Otomi Copy Cats back in the day, too)
This centuries-old practice is steeped in history, talent, and tradition. It's important for us to pay respect to these artisans and ensure they are paid fairly for their inimitable work.
For these artisans, making a living is more important than adding their mark to the fashion or decor industries. "Those who do the heavy labor of needlework earn less than $10 to embroider a square about the size of a small cushion."
Our daughter Stella in 2010 on a trek in Tenango de Doria (a town of Hidalgo, where the Otomi tradition originated)
Stray Dog + Otomi
In 2010, we decided to embark on a journey to include Otomi embroidery in our collection. At the time, it was an arduous decision to invest time and money in educating our audience on the amount of work involved and the rich history behind the designs. We even had the pleasure of taking a trek on the winding dirt roads through the Sierra Nevada Mountains to source production and ensure that the Otomi people would directly profit from their handiwork.
Despite the logistical challenges of working with indigenous people, these designs became quickly loved. We are humbled and proud that the Otomi people have partnered with us to include these pieces in our line. We hope each day to promote and celebrate their art while providing and preserving their jobs and income.