SANTA FE, N.M. - Santa Fe's famed summer market season opens this weekend with the International Folk Market, the world's largest folk art market and one dedicated to helping artisans from impoverished nations start their own businesses.
And as the popular market celebrates its 11th anniversary, it is drawing more than just tourists and locals. Organizers say designers from some of the most prestigious fashion brands are headed west to find inspiration for ethnographic prints and one-of-a-king handmade pieces that are increasingly popular in the fashion world.
"We've had many fashion experts shop the market, visionary designers from Donna Karan, Yves Saint Laurent, Anthropologie, and Coach among them," said market founder Judith Espinar. "We keep hearing that the market is a creativity hotspot, a place to exchange ideas and inspire and be inspired-for artists, retailers, collectors, and visitors alike."
This year, more than 160 artists from 62 countries will be selling their work, including includes scarves, jewelry, textiles, basket and host of other art pieces.
The market is expected to draw 25,000 visitors from Friday to Sunday. It brings some of the world's finest artisans from far-flung and often poverty-stricken locales, helping participants with travel costs and giving them training for building businesses and cooperatives when they get home. Over the years it has logged $19 million in sales, 90 percent of which goes home with the artists.
"On a trip to India recently, I was reminded of how hard it is to find high quality, handmade folk art," said Peter Speliopoulos, creative director of the Donna Karan Collection. "I kept thinking about the Santa Fe International Folk Art Market, and what a well-curated selection of the world's folk art is there. In a weekend you have access to the highest quality art, at good prices, from a world of cultures-- and you feel the richness of interacting with the actual artists themselves. It's amazing. "
The folk art event is one of a series of markets taking place in Santa Fe this summer, including markets specializing in Spanish and Indian art and antiques.