“Manteros” is a term used in Spain to pejoratively call people who sells things in the streets.They use a “manta” (a blanket or big piece of cloth) to put on top all kind of products, sun glasses, bags, socks, perfums, hats, etc. Normally the “mantas” are carried by young black africans who arrived to Spain by boat, risking their lives when crossing by sea to the mainland or the Canary Islands. Everyday you will see them carrying big “mantas”and wearing sport shoes so that they can easily scape from the police. Always in groups, discrete, smiling, even when selling in the streets means earning at most 30€ after 12h of work in the street.
With the years the police pressure increases, they get arrested, their “manta” with all the products gets confiscated, and in many cases their criminal record will not be clean and the consecuence is that the process to get the papers and be able to work gets harder.
But some years ago, a group of “manteros” in Barcelona decided to get organized in “Sindicato Popular de Vendedores Ambulante” a peddler union, and fight for their rights, to work, to stay, to start a new life without having to do anything illegal. It’s been three years since they started and now, they have just launched their own collective brand “Top manta”.
The goal of the brand is to dignify the meaning of “mantero”, they are doing nothing wrong, the brand challenges big companies and supports people, denounces the racism and persecution that they suffer daily, their idea is to provide a way of living for many not just them, its in memory of those who are dying in the Mediterranean sea, breaks the inner borders of a city like Barcelona, breaks the rules of the market by putting into value other values like solidarity, and is the reminder for all the rebel cities, new local governments and new municipalisms, that is in their hands to end with violence, punishment and jail suffered daily by the “manteros”.
A cooperative has been created by the union and it will be the one to distribute their products, for the moment T-shirts and sport shoes, and their goal to provide an alternative for the marginalized people, to help the more than 400 “manteros” that live in Barcelona and enable a legal and dignified job.
The logo represents with what they earn their living(the “manta”), the transport used to arrive to Europe (the boat) and the waves (the sea) which reflects all the difficulties they have to go through since they left their countries of origin, having to face not only the risks of the way but also discrimination, racism and exclusion.
“Top manta” brand is an “anti-brand” since the goal is not to individualize the consumers but to find in a collective way solutions for daily life by making decision and fighting together.