I’m so excited for today’s blog post, because I’ve teamed up with La Viajera to share their one-of-a-kind handmade pieces!
In Spanish, La Viajera means “The Woman Traveler”, which is one of the many reasons you’re reading about this brand on “Dress Well Travel Often”. It’s rare to find a brand that aligns with mine so incredibly much. The owner’s email signature says, “Y ahora, donde vamos?” Which in Spanish means, “And now, where are we going?” It makes me smile because every time a trip of mine wraps up I’m already thinking about the next great adventure.
In addition, La Viajera’s colorful, hand-woven, and patterned pieces match so many of the things I love in my personal wardrobe. They also remind me of the many places I explored with my family growing up.
So what even is a mochila? Mochila in Spanish is technically translated to “backpack” or “knapsack”, but in the Colombian context refers more to a bag/purse. The mochilas are the heritage of a native Colombian people known as the Wayuu, located in the La Guajira Peninsula of northern Colombia. The mochilas are handwoven, without a loom, each one with unique colors and geometric patterns encompassing the vision of its weaver.
An individual weaver makes each mochila and can take twenty or more days to complete; it is a true labor of love. The art of weaving is a skill that is passed from generation to generation. It is known as a symbol of creativity, intelligence and wisdom to the Wayuu people.
The traditional mochila is made with a hand woven cloth strap. Changing the cloth strap to leather and adding the fringe gives the bag an updated, modern look, making it completely wearable day in and day out. The owner of La Viajera, Kate, works with a local DFW leathersmith to create leather straps and fringe for the Wayuu mochilas. Leather is applied in small batches using full grain odd lot leather pieces hand selected to match best with the mochila.
Admittedly, I’ve never been to Colombia myself. But my senior year of high school, my family and I visited an indigenous municipality in Mexico’s southernmost state, Chiapas. Chamula is home to the Tzotzil Mayan people. The women there make traditional clothing, blankets, and other souvenirs out in the street in front of their famous church of San Juan. I remember walking through the village with my family and thinking, “Am I in a different world?!” It is not only a humbling reminder that I am privileged, but also that there are cultures long preceding me all over the world that deserve to be remembered and preserved.
As you can see from the pictures, I also have a “monedero” (coin purse) and a “sobre” (clutch bag) from La Viajera. Each is hand-woven and unique, just like the mochilas. How fun is my sobre to enhance a classic LBD.. or to add to a bright yellow dress for summer?! These pieces will definitely be making it to Italy with me next week. I can’t wait!
I will always appreciate La Viajera for giving me these pieces of culture from the Colombian people, and hope that you too, will find a piece that speaks to you.
In collaboration with La Viajera. All opinions are my own.
Photos: Madison Katlin Photography
Black Top- Old Navy; Denim- Nordstrom; Bow Slides- Steve Madden; Mochila- c/o La Viajera; Monedero- c/o La Viajera; Sobre- c/o La Viajera; Hat- Nordstrom; Sunglasses- Ray Ban; Earrings- BaubleBar; Cuff- David Yurman; Watch- Movado; Necklace- Nordstrom