In a globalised world of fashion that increasingly seeks inspiration in local traditions, the business plan compiled by the Bolivian businessman Franz Beltran is a characteristic example. As director of Beltex Jeans and finalist in the BiD Challenge Award 2007, he hopes to incorporate a hint of Bolivian weaving tradition into Western jeans with the Mestizo line. Not only will Beltran create employment opportunities for young female weavers, but cultural heritage will be saved for the future in a new form.
The BiD challenge is a global competition organised by Business in Development, asking participants to submit appealing business plans that are intended not only to make a profit, but to improving the living standards in developing countries. The jury will determine which of the 24 finalists can use the prize money to put their plan in motion on 4 December 2007.
As one of the finalists, Beltran primarily focused on creating jobs for young mothers in the Asociación de Artesanos Andinos, giving them independent income. These women will receive sound training in producing the ancient weaving techniques while learning to survive in the often women-unfriendly Latin American machismo culture.
Literally translated as half-blood, the Mestizo jeans models will be produced by Beltex Jeans and subsequently decorated by the women with hand-woven patterns. Each of the symbols and colours used has its own meaning. Beltran explains: "Before script existed, weaving patterns acted as a means of communication for social, political and spiritual expressions. Images of animals, for example, stand for the desire of power, ultra-human qualities and fertility." By using various combinations of signs, symbols and icons, each pair of Mestizo jeans will reflect a unique piece of Bolivian history.
It will soon be clear whether Beltran's business plan will receive the BiD Award. Although his Bolivian jeans are currently primarily worn by young women from Argentina, they may be popular items in Dutch wardrobes sometime in the future.