“Craftsmanship is something rare and very valuable,” said Jenna Lyons, J. Crew’s creative director, who was not at all surprised by how quickly the bags went. “There are few things that are still made by hand, much less in a technique that is handed down through generations and is a means of support for a community.” On top of that, she added, “It’s a beautiful bag.”

But there is more to it than that.

Recently, the mochila has become something of a cult item, toted around town by fashion editors and It girls, and the subject of chatter on style blogs. “It seems to be the iconic tribal bag,” said Anne Slowey, the fashion news director of Elle, who has picked up a few on her travels. “The perfect mix of practical, exotic and chic.”

Much of the craze can be traced to November when the Vogue editor Lauren Santo Domingo organized the Mochila Project. For it, 40 designers, from Alexander Wang to Oscar de la Renta, were each given a traditional bag and asked to rework it in their own style. The extraordinary results — the Calvin Klein was trimmed in snakeskin; the J. Mendel, in fur — were then auctioned off at a charity event in Miami that left those nowhere near South Florida somewhat envious. Fortunately, at least one label produced its design: Proenza Schouler will release medium, large and clutch versions of its PS1 bag, fashioned from mochilas, as part of its prefall collection.

“We had wanted to do a fabric PS1 for a while, but hadn’t found anything we wanted to use,” said Lazaro Hernandez, of Proenza Schouler. “Then this project came along, and it was perfect.”