Gather&See wouldn't be what it is without the amazing sustainable brands that we work with - they inspire us every day and we are so proud to call them our partners. We know that you love to hear the real life stories behind the brands and so we are delighted to bring you a new series of interviews with our brands about how they work, why they choose to focus on sustainability and how the roller coaster of the last year has affected them. First up we chatted with knitwear brand Achiy. Run by a brother and sister, their passion for supporting Peruvian craftsmanship through sustainable practice is an example of exactly why our brands are so special. Read on for the full story....
First of all please remind us, who is behind Achiy?ACHIY is one big family. We (Vivica and Lennard - sister and brother) are a Hamburg based slow fashion label with the mission to take fashion back to its origins to give indigenous communities in their countries of origin (our new "families") the opportunity to make fashion the way it should be - 100% NATURAL, 100% FAIR, 100% UNIQUE and 100% SPIRITUAL.
What was it that inspired you to set the brand up?">ACHIY originated out of the desire to “give back”. I fell in love with the culture, people and textiles of the Peruvian communities during a Volunteer project back in 2014. I was stunned by the colourful and lively clothes and the fact that every pattern has a special meaning. Moreover, what has inspired me most is that the lively textiles lightened up the darkest place. Most of the Peruvian people live in extreme poverty but instead of giving up, they seem to enjoy with all its challenges and transmit and carry that positivity in their clothing.
Unfortunately, we as modern fashion consumers have completely lost the appreciation for clothing. In Germany for instance, the average shopper purchases 60% more clothing than 15 years ago. Worldwide a truckload full of textiles is thrown away every second. Let alone all the environmental damages that are caused by the Fast Fashion Industry.
I took all of the unique and precious experiences that I had in Peru and formulated one goal: to change the resource-damaging fashion production and encourage more conscious consumption. By returning to the origins of textile art and drawing inspiration from the lives and spirituality of indigenous people, ACHIY manages to bring back meaning into our clothing.
You work with wool, specifically alpaca - what is it about this material that you were so drawn to?
Hundreds of years ago, textiles were created in complete harmony with Mother Nature, Pachamama. Therefore, all of our artworks consist of 100% alpaca wool. Alpaca agriculture is deeply rooted in the Peruvian history. From the shepherd who breeds and cares for the alpaca, to the knitters who learned from their parents how to sort, classify, spin and knit the fibres. Alpacas are part of the unique heritage of Peruvian textile art.
Tell us a bit about the people who produce your knits - who are they and where do they make them?
You won’t find any industrial machinery here. Our producers are not unknown grey figures who are exploited for a pittance. We stand for the opposite. For us, our knitters are artists. We consider each of our designs to be a work of art that is shaped by the lives, traditions and spirituality of our partners. So, it is simply a matter of course for us that we produce 100% in the country of origin. As we are guided by traditional production methods of indigenous people, all our pieces are carefully handmade.
In the best possible harmony with nature, we create limited collections with sense, which offer an absolutely suitable answer to the fast fashion industry.
2020 was an incredibly testing year, can you tell us a bit about how the COVID crisis has affected your business and how you have adapted?
2020 was a crazy year. The crisis hit us especially hard since 2020 was our first year in business. Although it was hard to meet people and sell to them in person we took the challenge and expanded our sales online.
Why is sustainable fashion so important to you?
Worldwide the fashion industry is responsible for 10% CO2 emission while airplanes only make up for about 3%. Nevertheless in Germany everybody talks about airplanes instead of fashion when talking about climate change. The fast fashion industry has expanded to a degree that is not sustainable for our environment anymore.
The fashion industry often overlooks the unique materials Mother Nature gives us and chooses cheap and synthetic alternatives. We think it is time to change this. We use only natural materials and follow resource-saving traditional manufacturing techniques.
Finally, what are your goals as a brand for 2021?
The indigenous origin of our fashion gives each of our handmade artworks a unique story. We started with the country of Peru, the mystical Inca culture and the divinely soft alpaca wool. For 2021 we want to further develop our business activity in Peru and expand our endeavor to a new country and its indigenous culture.