Ambassador: (Benny) Sungbin Hwang
Representing: Embassy of Mexico in Korea
Month: February 2020
Update: Breaking Barriers of Tradition by Alberto Lopez Gomez
Gender equality issues might seem resolved around the modern era, however, it is still a serious social norm in various places on Earth. Mexico is one of the places where the roles of men and women are strongly assigned. Lopez came from the Los Altos region of Chiapas. Historically, a Maya country where it is rural and has a strict traditional community. Lopez was specifically living at the small Tzotzil community of Aldama, in this community, women were assigned to do women’s work such as needling, washing, housework, and art. Men were toiling fields, doing strength work.
In 2014, Lopez at the age of 25, questioned the gender social norms that are happening in Mexico. Thus, he decided to challenge traditional social norms to become a designer himself. He was hoping that their parents would support to go against the social norm in his country, directly quoting Lopez, “It took me a while to tell my mother that I wanted to learn to work on a backstrap loom. She was surprised because no man had ever done this, but she supported me from the first moment.” With their parents’ support, he spread the news by notifying the newspaper company. Now being public, Lopez faced some challenges of ignorance and disapproval from people. Everyone said this is highly against the social norm, hence he will not be successful. Lopez answered with ignorance.
Lopez continued his journey, he woke up and worked 14 hours a day, allowing him to hone his techniques, throughout hard-working. He moved on to grow as a founder of a design business at the tourist destination of San Cristóbal de las Casas. With his location, more than 130 Tzotil artisans brought textiles from fair prices, with equal treatment. Six years later, his long-term practices and talent were recognized. He had a chance to present his work at Harvard University and New York’s prestigious fashion week. This step was a huge step up to Lopez, his goal of breaking the barrier of gender work social norms were now internationally being recognized. Here is the timeline of the events:
In January, he traveled to Boston and gave a speech about the cosmology of traditional Tzotzil huipils. Tzotzil Huipils was the square or rectangular garments common in central and southern Mexico and are often highly decorated with woven and embroidered patterns. These designs are linked to the traditional beliefs and customs of a location.
This month, in February, Lopez officially declared he is a designer, not a farmworker. In New York Fashion Week, he and along 150 women weavers from his region presented the designer line called K’uxul Pok. The world considered this event as a turning point on social norms, and an important event to promote the traditional textiles of his region globally.
Until the present day, even right at this moment, Lopez continues to work against the notion that weaving is only for women. He is a designer, and he is a global leader that started small but now internationally recognized. He started inside his town, a small community to challenge the social norm, and practice designing, then he grew domestically to present his designing. Now presented on the world stage of the New York fashion show, he was internationally recognized as a designer and global leader that leads the changes in gender social norms of jobs. This article will finish with Lopez’s quote about his goal. “My goal is to let people know about my work and the work of my associates, even though people sometimes are envious or critical. I learn a lot by being able to give my associates encouragement.”
“Chiapas Designs on the Runway at New York Fashion Week.” Mexico News Daily, 4 Feb.
“Chiapas Farmer Turned Weaver Heads to New York Fashion Week.” Mexico News Daily, 9 Jan.
García, Beatriz. “The Indigenous Designer Who Is Set to Rock New York Fashion Week.” AL
DÍA News, 10 Jan. 2020,
“New York Fashion Week 2020 / Solo Runway Alberto López Gómez Indigenous Fashion
Designer of Aldama Chiapas.” Eventbrite, 2020,
Benny Hwang is a senior at Korea International School, Jeju Campus, with a passion for policy and people. He intends to attend university in the United States, where he will major in international relations and public policy.