Ricardo Medina makes beautiful shoes with his hands. He fashions sheets of leather and rubber that used to be tire tread into perfect little loafers, laced sandals, and boots. This description is factually correct, but not enough for a man who wants to translate a life-lived through a pair of shoes. Sharing in a millennial context means everything from flaunting Kingworthy ass-cheeks on Instagram to posting gratitude memes (ugh, don’t). It often has to do with eliciting a sense of envy about the life you don’t have, about the life you wish you were living.
There’s some room for envy here: Ricardo works from his sun-filled Mexico City home. You don’t. His shoes are shipped and worn across the globe. Are yours? Plus, Ricardo has better hair than you do. He just does. But instead of trying to stoke your jealz, he’s trying to give you a piece of his world. As a young artist traveling and living off cash for drawings, Ricardo was fascinated by indigenous culture. His designs are a convergence of his continued love for Apache and Native American styles and his aesthetic background as a National School educated painter and lithographer. For example, his Nahuati Running Sandals are similar to those used by the Tarahumara in Northern Mexico. “The laces are basically the same,” says Ricardo, “The pieces along the arches that hold the laces are my own creation.” The sandals are an almost delicate shape, a shape that begs to be paired with bathing suits, and wide-brimmed panama hats, a shape that begs for sun. The long ankle laces feel decadent, borderline balletic. Still, the hewn leather and simple sole reference an historical functionality. Somebody used to run in these.
Ricardo describes the “Botines,” low slip-on booties with no snaps or laces, as an “homage to Native Americans in Mexico.” Like all of his wares, the “Botines” have a hand-cut rubber sole. They’re made with hand-cut leather pieces, held together with hand-shorn leather laces, and shaped by Medina-made molds. “Some shoemakers send out to have their molds made and don’t give recognition to the people that have the skill,” Ricardo says, “My molds are made one by one by me. It’s taken me years of dedication to get them just right.”
He happily puts in the extra time, hand-sewing the “Botines” with his signature triangular stitching, leaving each shoe imprinted with his techniques and his experience. His shoes weave together a sense of the past and his present. In fact, it’s the shoes that brought his family together. “My wife, Miriam, and I met one evening in Coyoacan when she stopped by my shoe stand and was fascinated by my roman–styled sandals, the ‘Romanos,’ She ordered a pair... We have been together 11 happy years." That’s a hell of a meet-cute. Now, to add to the aspirational blog post that is the Medina life, Ricardo and Miriam make shoes together in their home studio. The collection is called Harebac, for their two sons Hararec and Baruc. There’s not enough space in this article for the thousand heart emojis required to describe this scenario.