Meghan Markle Was Spotted Wearing A Pair Of Mexican Huaraches That Cost $225 While In South Africa
The Duchess of Sussex was spotted out in public on official business for the first time after giving birth to baby Archie. Meghan Markle was seen earlier this month, during the royal couple’s 10-day trip to South Africa, wearing a pair of tan-colored Mexican Huaraches. Naturally, we were excited to see the Mexican footwear staple on such a prominent figure. Here’s everything we know about the royal’s choice of shoes.
The sighting of the royal baby made headlines across the globe, but for us, it’s what was on Markle’s royal feet that caught our eye.
credit Instagram @brothervellies
The Duke and Duchess of Sussex’s began their first overseas trip as a family on Mon., and according to the couple’s official Instagram account, their 10-day South African tour will focus primarily on “community, grassroots leadership, women’s and girls’ rights, mental health, HIV/AIDS and the environment.” Their busy calendar and lots of visits to various places around South Africa kept our news and social media feeds packed with Royal family content. Meghan Markle’s down-to-earth styling choice, however, grabbed our attention the most.
Meghan is known for defying royal fashion protocols with her down-to-earth fashion choices.
Credit Instagram @royalsussex
She was seen sporting a pair of black jeans and a Madewell denim jacket —yep, this royal wears Madewell too. The #ootd was pretty on point for the occasion, a casual visit to Monwabisi Beach in South Africa, where the couple learned about the work that the organization ‘Waves for Change’ does supporting local surf mentors who provide mental health services to vulnerable young people living in under-resourced communities. The Duchess rounded out her beach day outfit with a white J. Crew button-down shirt and last, but definitely not least, a pair of tan-colored huaraches.
The woven sandals worn by the royal are traditional Mexican pre-hispanic shoes.
Credit Instagram @tachmonkey
Huaraches are a popular style of handmade, pre-Columbian footwear, that is said to have originated from the Mexican states of Jalisco, Michoacán, and Yucatán in particular. Typically associated with Mexican farmworkers, huaraches were popularized in the US due to 60s hippie culture, and continue to be popular with both Mexicans and visitors to the country.
The Duchess of Sussex’s choice of footwear was not at random. Royals’ outfits are carefully thought out.
credit Twitter @aideefrescas
Being part of the royal family comes with a lot of traditions and rules that affect the clothes they wear and how they wear them. Megan’s shoe choice was not at all coincidental. The tight fashion protocols given to the royals make it important to note that Markle’s huaraches were not just chosen at random.
The huaraches are made by Brother Vellies, a brand that makes “traditional African footwear”.
credit Instagram @brothervellies
With the goal of introducing the rest of the world to her “favorite traditional African footwear”, while also creating and sustaining artisanal jobs within Africa, Aurora James founded footwear and accessories label Brother Vellies. James’ label creates luxury items handmade in South Africa, Ethiopia, Kenya and Morocco. Their boots, shoes and sandals are all designed in styles that “maintain the spirit and durability of their ancestral counterparts.”
The luxury ‘slow-fashion’ version of huaraches is way more expensive than the price you might get on the streets of Mexico.
Listed on the website, Brother Vellies states that the shoes are; “a little update to our favorite handwoven braided leather sandal. Made in México. The name ‘huarache’ comes from ‘kwarachi’ in the Purépecha language spoken in the highlands of Michoacán.” And as much as we love seeing Mexican and Latino elements represented in the highest spheres of fashion, consumers should know that the pre-Columbian shoes made in Mexico are not items of luxury, but traditional footwear made and sold by indigenous people all over the country. The Brother Vellies pair will set you back a whopping $225. Now, we know it’s not a “high price” to pay for a pair of ‘slow’ eco-conscious fashion find. But we’re fairly certain that these shoes “made in Mexico” are made by the same artisans who sell their own footwear on the streets —at a much more reasonable $250 Mexican pesos.
For luxury ‘slow fashion’ brands, supporting local artisans comes with a higher price tag.
credit Instagram @brothervellies
The Slow Fashion movement has grown steadily since the late 2000’s and has never been as relevant and on-trend as it is now. A reaction to Fast Fashion, championed by high street giants such as H&M and the recently bankrupt Forever 21, the growth of Slow Fashion has been driven by a wide array of independent designers seeking to place the customer’s focus on durability and quality rather than the immediacy of micro-trends.
A habit of slow fashion brands is to hype certain concepts and products as new and innovative, when in fact, they have been thriving for long before Slow Fashion as a concept became mainstream. In this case, huaraches, have been the footwear of choice for indigenous people in Mexico for centuries before it became a fashion staple to buy for $225 dollars.
For Mexicans everywhere, huaraches are part of culture, so we can’t help but feel a little bit skeptical about the luxury version.
credit Instagram @mexicansole
It’s hard to track the manufacturing process and to find out whether the financial profit that the shoes are raising is being destined to support the artisans and their local communities. Or if they are at the very least, receiving fair compensation for the work they put into the artisanal shoes they’ve known for generations, and which are now being sold to NYC’s elite at a luxury price point.
We celebrate Meghan Markle for bringing under-represented fashion pieces to the mainstream, and possibly making ‘huaraches’ an “it shoe” for the season. But huaraches have been a part of Mexican culture since time immemorial and we can’t help but feel a little skeptical of where the hundreds of dollars that these shoes are raising are going. It seems to us, that if you want to recreate the royal’s look, you could save yourself some $$$ and take a trip south of the border to buy yourself a pair of handmaid shoes that will profit the artisan directly —and enjoy some bomb food and sights while you’re at it.