I am Olivia, a Fashion and Textile Design graduate from London. After undertaking an art foundation at the London College of Fashion, I moved to Bristol for 3 years to complete my degree.
I have worked with London-based design companies Zandra Rhodes, Liberty Art Fabrics, Nicole Farhi, Alexander McQueen and now Threads of Peru!! I am joined by my coursemate Hannah, working as the Textile and Product Design volunteers for the past month.
Researching nonprofit organizations, the prospect of working with a textile related charity had me really excited! I specialized in fabric manipulation, but had never actually had a chance to weave. I was keen to learn more, understand the technique and materials used and bring new ideas to the table.
We have been conducting a market research report, familiarizing ourselves with the competition in the high-end shops of Cusco, looking for gaps in the market and studying how to apply innovations locally and worldwide.
After traveling from distances near and far, the weavers in Chaullacocha all gather together with their colorful balls of naturally dyed yarn to begin working.
Our objective has been to connect traditional Quechua textiles with modern fashion trends, looking at design, colour, pattern placement and construction to help Threads of Peru become a more trend-aware and fashion-forward brand with a view to ultimately increasing sales.
I have spent the past year working at The British Museum practicing my language skills and meeting people from around the world daily and was enthusiastic to become the tourist.
We visited the weaving communities of Huaran, Chaullacocha and Rumira Sondormayo in the Andean mountains. The onomatopoeic Quechua spoken there was fascinating and poetic to listen to. Meeting the people whose traditions have been practiced for thousands of years compared to my studying of textiles at university was a wonderful and enlightening experience.
Nothing beats working at an altitude of over 4,500 meters than a nice bowl of hot soup made of the freshest local ingredients!
The time it takes to spin metres and metres of yarn and weave beautiful cloths shows a patience completely unknown and taken for granted in a Western society and was remarkable to watch. It was a huge privilege to be invited into the homes of the weavers and gain such a unique insight into their lives. Never have I ever appreciated the true taste of the many potatoes that were taken almost straight from the ground and cooked for us. Nor have I tasted a fresher fish, caught right in front of us and cooked into a delicious soup and ready to eat half an hour later.
Eugenia Huaman Quispe, warping and weaving vibrantly colored guitar straps for an order pickup in July.
Interacting with the weavers and helping out with workshops and pedidos has enabled us to understand the limitations and obstacles Threads of Peru faces when working with communities who live up to 4,200 meters above sea level in the high Andes, where there is no electricity and the only way to communicate is over the radio.
I would like to thank Threads of Peru for this opportunity. It has been a delight to work with Dana, Sarah and Stephanie. We are sad to be leaving, but look forward to seeing the new products come on the website and Threads of Peru continue to grow!