Buenos Aires City Buses

People will stop you on the street to ask where you got your bag. Viva Zapata at its best. Hyper-urban, all-terrain, forever, easy-going, chameleonic! Made of the same vinyl that covers the seats of the buses of Buenos Aires, the colectivos, the most popular and colorful form of public transportation in Argentina’s capital. The straps are manufactured for use in the heavy window shutters found throughout Argentina, so you know they’re built to last. Neither colectivos nor shutters are easy to find in New York. Is that why native, adoptive and temporary New Yorkers have been falling in love with these bags?

No buses were harmed in the making of these bags.

Colectivos add some color to a somewhat grey city. The different lines can be told by their numbers but also by their characteristic combinations of colors and patterns, which allow for locals to easily tell them apart. Up until not too long ago, colectivos were adorned with a stylized type of drawing called fileteado, whose beauty and artistry contributed to the mythical stature of these giants that still roam this city of small cars in their modernized form. Two of the main characteristics of …Viva Zapata! bags are directly inspired by the colectivos’ interiors: durability  and colorfulness. Colectivos are multicolored inside out, and the upholstery of their seats can often be bright blue, vivid yellow or striped red and white. 

Buenos Aires is a fast-paced metropolis, full of diversity and passionate people, but also packed with tensions. A mix of indigenous, black and Spanish in pre-modern times, it received a massive wave of immigrants from impoverished European countries during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Later, the cultures from neighboring countries like Perú, Paraguay and Bolivia, added on to the mix of an already rich concoction of Italian, Spaniard, Polish, Jew and German. Porteños walk fast, talk fast and are often impolite. But they also look at you in the eye and are open enough to share their deepest joys or frustrations with a stranger. Buses are a microcosm of that large picture: young and old, light and dark, nice and rude. Like in any form of public transportation, certain rules have to be followed when one boards a bus. Whether those rules are followed or not says a lot about people’s mood on that particular day: bus etiquette becomes a barometer for the city’s temper. 

Ask any porteño and you will probably get the sense that these buses inspire a love and hate relationship. Colectivoscan be loud; everywhere you turn there’s one of them, even on small side streets pressed against smaller sidewalks; their drivers work long hours, they are often rushing and therefore ill tempered. And yet, a colectivo will most likely be there when you need it, comfortable and affordable, and if you get lucky you might even get a smile from the driver…  

Let …Viva Zapata! put a smile on your face as well. 
Come on board!