We sure love stylish sustainable knitwear and eco chic layering, and though were are experiencing a steamy summer here at Inhabitat central, we could not help but to be impressed by this gorgeous warm and fuzzy collection by Indigenous Designs. Handcrafted by Peruvian artisans operating under fair-trade guidelines and community-based artist training programs, the quality of these all-natural fiber garments is exceptionally high not to mention totally wearable. Fourteen year old Indigenous Designs is proof that sustainable style begins with the best raw materials and a vision to make a difference, both locally where things are made, as well as globally where the demand for environmental accountability and social responsibility has resonance with the fiber and discerning tastes of informed fashionistas.
“If you want to end up with a top-quality product, it’s absolutely necessary to start with premium raw materials,” said Scott Leonard, CEO and co-founder of Indigenous. “We work with the best of the best certified organic cotton mills in Peru. They adhere to the strict environmental processes while producing an exquisite yarn of consistent quality, which is evident in the essence of our fashions.” Case in point is the Ruffle Cardigan, by Indigenous, made from Fluffy Frise organic cotton yarn because of its “light weight, soft hand and subtle loft”.
Artisan knitting cooperatives use the locally sourced fiber specifically to help promote and sustain rural Peruvian farms and communities. The raw organic cotton filament is purchased in bulk and spun into yarn at the most notable boutique mills, specializing in mélanges and premium finishing. The certified organic cotton yarns are delivered to trained knitters on a type of micro-credit loan that constantly resets as orders are completed, thereby eliminating out-of-pocket expenses. Out of the camaraderie of artisan friends and families (knitters may work from home but often choose to knit in groups of six to 60).
To take part in the fair-trade initiative, interested participants may enroll in free training sessions – even if they are not experienced knitters. In these sessions, artisans are provided with complimentary sets of knitting needles and are led through open costing exercises that outline the value of their work in the fair-trade market. According to Reynolds, after completing their training, the women will generally earn up to two times more through the fair-trade arrangement than they would have otherwise.
Indigenous Designs are available at retailers including Dillard’s higher-end concept stores, Whole Foods and REI.