Textiles Shopping In The Chiapas Mountains

Here at True Tribe HQ we have a lot to think about when it comes to creating the best sustainable swimwear possible. From sourcing recycled materials and streamlining our green manufacturing process, our team works tirelessly to blend globally-inspired design with modern sustainability for luxury with a clear conscience.

This season, we want to take you on a journey to discover the inspiration behind some of our printed shorts. In the rural, hilly villages of central Mexico, intricate woven prints and the primary reds and blues of the ancient Mayan cities adorn tapestries, murals and ruins. This wild and undiscovered region of Chiapas hides unspoilt beauty, dense jungle, ancient mesoamerican cities and a heritage of colourful craftsmanship. A world away from the party resorts of the Yucatán and the modern culture of Mexico City, Chiapas remains a quiet destination that calls to the true adventurer, nature lover and craft enthusiast.

 

Start your journey in the cultural heart of the region, San Cristóbal de las Casas, a UNESCO world heritage site that can’t help but charm you. Imagine beautifully kept colonial streets lined with brightly-coloured houses, local women selling handmade textiles and a sweeping mountain background. The altitude (almost 2,200m) will take your breath away, so take a few days to rest and recuperate, taking in the beauty of the Sumidero Canyon, Chiflon waterfall and el Arcotete park in the cool mornings.

This artisanal city also boats some of the best coffee found in all of Mexico, so there’s no excuse not to hop between the many cafes to experience the finest beans from all over the region throughout the day. The markets in San Cristobal are also not to be missed. Spend an afternoon winding through the artisan market outside the ex-convent of Santo Domingo to pick up traditional blankets, jaguar wood carvings and woven baskets to adorn your home.

For expertly crafted, woven textiles, the hill town of San Andres should be your first stop. The local craft of back-strap weaving and brocading has been perfected here over the decades and the artisans here are widely regarded as producing the finest work. Look out for wool cushion covers, wall hangings and rugs in the signature colourful diamond weaves - each piece can take a month or more to weave by hand and makes for a unique souvenir with an authentic story.

Head out of town to San Juan Chamula to experience their weekly Sunday market, full of wool animal figurines and homespun textiles. As it’s only 6km from home base, it makes a fantastic shopping day trip when many of the main markets in San Cristobal are winding down for the week. 

For adventures further afield, make your way through the mountain villages that scatter Chiapas, on your own or with a tour, for a first-hand look into the history, practices and traditions of Mayan textile weaving. Each town has its own patterns and weaving styles so it’s best to visit a few to find your favourite. Chamula specialises in line patterns for a more refined look, the intricate and colourful patterns of Tenejapa and Magdalenas offer details seldom seen elsewhere, while the pared-back floral designs found in Huistan are perfect for gifting.

Sellers are often happy to haggle but don’t expect to come away with a discount of more than 10-15% as most of the vendors are selling their wares to sustain their families and villages and can’t afford to come down too low. With prices being affordable to begin with, take enjoyment from choosing which colours to match and getting lost in the souk-like mazes rather than spending too long worrying about making a deal.

Finish a productive day (or several) of shopping with traditional Chiapaneca food, a bowl of Pozol de Cacao (a refreshing cacao drink) and scenic views over the highlands. Our Chiapas-inspired printed shorts will see you through waterfall swims and forest hikes but make sure you leave plenty of room in your suitcase for everything you’ll want to bring home with you.

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