Mexico City ~ Mexico
Carla Fernández (1973, Saltillo Coahuila) is a fashion designer and cultural historian who is documenting, preserving, revitalising and bringing to contemporary relevance the rich textile heritage of Mexico’s indigenous communities.
Combining her passion for beautiful clothing and a deep respect for the artisans and communities who produce traditional textiles, she founded an ethical and sustainable business that includes a fashion label and a unique mobile design studio, Taller Flora (Workshop Flora). Travelling throughout the country, Fernández works closely with hand spinners, weavers, embroiderers and garment makers to document their age-old techniques and processes such as backstrap-loom weaving, natural dyeing, embroidered motifs and unique geometric structuring, pleating and folding. Then, working collaboratively, they adapt and transform these concepts to make striking contemporary clothing.
The business produces both a high quality fashion collection of refined, singular modern design and a commercially produced prêt-à-porter line. They also make appealing and practical clothes for the communities of producers, including a hand-woven indigo-dyed denim popular with village youths. Their range of attractive, comfortable and hard-wearing school uniforms for Oxaca State has led to abandoned factories being re-opened under worker-run management and increased local employment.
Carla Fernández promotes environmentally responsible production processes and the economic development of indigenous artisans and their communities by ensuring that her co-workers are recognised and paid for their intellectual property. She shares her methodology and spirit as a designer-anthropologist through talks, exhibitions and publications such as her book The Barefoot Designer: A Handbook.
Carla Fernández is honoured for creating stunning contemporary fashions by collaborating and adapting traditional techniques and styles; for empowering communities, especially women, by channeling their knowledge and skills into modern design; for reinvigorating Mexico’s indigenous textile traditions and establishing a detailed archive as a lasting legacy for future generations; for devising an ethical production model that fully respects the intellectual property rights of indigenous individuals and communities; and for demonstrating the important cultural, social and economic role of textiles and design for a country and community.