From the Oaxacan mercado to the global luxury market, Elise Durbecq and Gillian Tozer are putting Mexican-made bags on the map.
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On a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico, New Yorkers Elise Durbecq and Gillian Tozer fell in love with the structured market bags they saw the local women carrying around. “We recognized the beauty, technique, and tradition,” Tozer explains. Having already worked together at Opening Ceremony, the duo launched TRUSS soon after, collaborating closely with artisans to create high-fashion designs using traditional techniques.
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One of their bags takes a full day for a skilled weaver to complete. “People come to the market in Mexico and haggle for a blouse that took months to make, even though it’s the same quality as something made in a French atelier,” Durbecq says. “If we don’t pay artisans properly and treat them with respect, the next generation won’t want to learn.”
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In addition to supporting small businesses, TRUSS donates a percentage of its profits to Fondo Guadalupe Musalem, an organization that works with girls to continue their education through high school. “We thought we’d stay out of trouble for a summer, go to Oaxaca, buy some bags, and sell them at the Brooklyn Flea,” says Tozer. “But as soon as we became aware that this tradition was dying out, we had to take it to the next level.”
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