Alpaca poncho from Ecuador

Ecuadorian Alpaca blankets and the artisans behind them

A guest post from Ecuafina

If you ever look at Pinterest it is almost impossible not to notice what is IN and what is NOT in clothes or how to decorate your home. It is common to see designs from all over the world. One of the things that is becoming a trend is ponchos, a traditional piece of clothing from the Andes. Ponchos are traditionally often worn during horse riding because they offer a lot of freedom of movement. In addition, they protect against the cold. Ponchos are so well-loved that they come in all shapes, sizes, and colours.

Usually the producers of the ponchos are artisans who also make scarves, alpaca native blankets and sweaters. In the Ecuadorian Andes the principal material is alpaca wool and cotton. They use ancestral techniques, which have been slightly updated over the years but maintain the technique and are mostly made by hand.

An Ecuadorian Alpaca plaid on display in a home
Alpaca native plaid, living room decoration
Alpaca native plaid
Alpaca native plaid, perfect for a picnic. Courtesy of Ecuafina

How to make an alpaca plaid

So did you know that it takes a month to make an alpaca plaid by hand? After the wool of the alpacas is shaved off, without any harm to the animal, their wool is spun to a thread. With this thread, the plaids, scarfs, sweaters or blankets are made. It’s fascinating to watch, because it’s true craftsmanship.

Chemical free

Every product in our web shop is made without any machinery and the wool doesn’t get any chemical treatment, nor is it dyed with chemicals; our artisans use dyes only derived from plants! A very pure process, but also quite an intensive process, which makes the products a bit more expensive, too.

An Ecuadorian artisan making a blanket
True Ecuadorian artisans. Courtesy of Ecuafina

The people behind the products

The people behind this process are very humble, like Rodrigo who is an artisan who works with his wife making textile products. They also have in their small garden some animals and vegetables that they can sell.

There are many stories of makers like Rodrigo, some of whom who don’t know how to read or write or have too much electricity where they live. Between them it is very common to work with their neighbour, so in the end they create a community business.

Even though their circumstances are not always the best they want to keep improving their quality of life, and they show that effort by being good hand workers and creating the most beautiful blankets and clothes. It’s a tradition that passes from generation to generation.

Ecuadorian artisans making blankets
Rodrigo, displaying some of the techniques that have been passed down generations. Image courtesy of Ecuafina

Why Fair Trade

We think it’s very important that people know more about and are conscious of the people behind our products, and understand about fair trade and why it’s important.

So that’s why at Ecuafina one of our goals is to educate our shoppers, and when you purchase our products you are helping our artisans.

We make sure the artisans that work with us have a stable income, and this stable income increases security for them and their future. For us it’s very important to maintain a balance and give women the same opportunities that men have, without any discrimination. That’s why we work with around 120 women who also make plaids, ponchos etc.

Because of the fair wage, people can better provide for themselves and their families, besides a fair wage, the people also can improve their healthy working conditions.

Our relationship with all of our artisans is very important to manage transparency, so we are involved as much as possible with the process, are there if they need anything and so we build confidence with them.

Ecuadorian artisan showing off her Alpaca blankets

Also by buying Fair Trade products you are not negatively impacting the environment. Fair Trade products come with strict environmental requirements so that the products do little or no harm to the environment. For more on why Fair Trade is so important, see here.

And why alpaca

Our products are made mostly of alpaca wool and this wool has great qualities for example: durable, environmentally conscious, animal friendly, warm and isolating, hypoallergenic and naturally water resistant making a product easy to maintain, long lasting and very sustainable.

For more information or to get in touch with the team, see here: 

IG: @ecua.fina
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