Upon venturing through the Gothic side of Barcelona, I came across one of the most fascinating shops I’ve encountered in quite some time. Barcelona is full of these one-of-a-kind, quirky, independent shops with compelling décor and one-off pieces, but this shop caught my eye with something completely different. That fucking bag!
Caboclo, meaning, “a person of mixed Indigenous Brazilian and European ancestry,” was the name of this shop- and this shop was filled with leather! Leather shoes, leather jackets, leather belts, accessories, and bags!
But the bag that caught my eye wasn’t just any ordinary leather handbag. In fact, this leather bag was a cross-body bag in the shape of an owl, made from natural donkey hide and the front flap with donkey fur, for added seductive texture. The stitching was sewn in yellows, greens, reds, and blues, shaping the satchel into a truly artistic piece of work.
The rest of the store was constructed with recycled wood behind handmade shelves, which were hung by recycled leather belts. Plants, neatly placed around the shelves decorated the shop along with photographs of artisans and a funky painted, repurposed skateboard. Character and stories of the past screamed to be heard through the crevices of all the recycled décor, pulling you eagerly into the little ecological leather showroom.
Not only does this design company recycle materials throughout their design process; they recycle traditional design methods and manufacturing cultures as well. Through researching cultures and communities around the world, along with the traditional materials used and ecological alternatives, they come up with brand new ideas. As they learn about original methods of construction from these communities, they implement their plans. With the help of updated product design techniques, these traditional gems become prototypes, which are tested in Caboclo shops and later sold to partners.
Caboclo’s shoes especially exemplify this innovative approach to design. With manufactory processes dating back to the 16th century, artisans from Ceara, northeast of Brazil, craft their shoes with chrome-free leather treatments and natural pigments and colors. Instead of using the traditional rubber soles, however, Caboclo recycles tires as their sole material. Even the tools used for crafting these inventive tire soles were developed throughout the project of their own creation. More than 30 different models have been constructed using these techniques.
Through this innovative, social approach, artisans become entrepreneurs, learning the intricacies of managing a business, so that they can continue to sell to other markets. This foundation of alliance and mutual respect is what has allowed this company to grow since the dawn of their existence in 2006. They now distribute to shops in a wide variety of countries including Spain, Germany, France, Italy, Finland, Japan, and the USA!
So if you are someone who appreciates the finer things in life, or someone who simply likes to wear something different on your arms, shoulders, back, waist, feet, or all of the above, go ahead and check out Caboclo for yourself. Share the handbag hysteria with me and shop away!
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