It’s just after sunset in San Miguel de Allende, and a delightful desert chill is already descending on the colorful cobbled town. Here, in the heart of Mexico’s central highlands, I’ve arrived at the home studio of the Sonora-born hat designer Alejandra “Suki” Armendariz.
After sharing cocktails across the street at the rooftop bar, Bekeb—helmed by her partner, the famed mixologist Fabiola Padilla—my friends and I stumbled our way uphill to her workshop, only a few blocks away. Winded, we passed through a thick wooden door of an unassuming façade to arrive at the studio, a subterranean room lined with well-worn cowboy saddles, geometric-patterned flannel tops, and antique silver and turquoise metal belts.
Norteño music blasts from the speaker as Armendariz grabs beers from the refrigerator. She pops the cap off a bottle with her dusty leather boots and hands it to me; a smile sweeps her face at her trick as congratulatory applause ricochets throughout the room.
In between sips of my beer, Armendariz tells me how she launched her home studio four months ago as a pathway for visitors to San Miguel de Allende to learn about the region’s traditional cowboy culture and customs.
Clad in an all-black sombrero of her design and jet-black pants held in place with a thick leather belt with a gold buckle, Armendariz explains how she prefers to utilize one of three materials to create her hats: Bolivian wool, Mexican rabbit fur, and Mexican palm leaves.
During bespoke experiences not too dissimilar from the one my friends and I are now enjoying, she even guides guests through the creation of their own hat, with the option to have a more interactive experience by shaping and steaming the brim themselves.
San Miguel Times