At this year’s Pitch Night, we got hands-on with the bags of Jaguar-undi—a family-run start-up that sources traditional textiles from various regions across the Americas (Latin and South) and stitches them together into unique handcrafted bags. Their aim isn’t just to create quality accessories, they also want to demonstrate how symbolically beautiful it can be when the disparate fabrics from multiple heritages unite.
Federika Tovar, one of the family members behind Jaguar-undi, tells CH about the company’s origins and inspirations: “Our family has been collecting Latin American handicrafts for the past 30 years. We have traveled and visited many indigenous communities in Venezuela, Panama, Colombia, Peru and Mexico. We developed an eye to spot excellent manufacturing and design,” she says. “My grandmother worked very closely with the Wayúu tribe, a nomad tribe that moves in the Peninsula de la Guajira located part in Colombia, part in Venezuela, helping to establish workshops and promoting that knowledge of their handicrafts be continued from one generation to another.” From there she notes, “Jaguar-undi goes directly to the source. We buy directly from different communities that produce the handicrafts and therefore travel extensively throughout Latin America. We also attend handicrafts fairs and shop at local markets.”
“We have our own workshop in Venezuela where we re-create and enhance our products. We work as a creative team that approves design ideas by consensus. We also work directly with other workshops in Colombia and Peru, providing the materials to be used for each product.” On the subject of unity, Tovar explains that “we believe that our ancestors shared a land without borders and were united by a common thread. We unite traditional skills with innovative design. Our products are a result of a creative collage that unites harmoniously a variety of textiles, producing an ideogram of Latin America United. We try combining a variety of references, disciplines and influences to produce something new out of something old, our products go through a process of re-contextualizing and re-invention.”
For the family, inspiration stems from more than just textiles. “Diana Vreeland coined a phrase ‘The eye has to travel.’ We find all elements that define a culture to be inspirational. We like to search for inspiration in contemporary art, local food markets, colors, popular arts, pre-Colombian art and mythology,” Tovar shares. “We try to discover the soul behind every object that has been handmade by an artist. Picasso was strongly influenced and inspired by African art that led him to evolve and discover Cubism. We are inspired by all things that reflect our Latin heritage and the story behind every object that makes it unique.” This inspiration is evident in their bags—where attributes unite for an attractive product with a heartfelt message.
Jaguar-undi is currently in the process of setting up their e-commerce site, which will be in operation this December. Until that time, the NYC-based brand notes that they can “cater to anyone interested in any of our products via email or personal rendezvous.”
Images courtesy of Jaguar-undi