Natural Fibers and Dyes

Written for animaná’s facebook page, published on 6 May 2016:
Our supply chain begins with the sustainable breeding of the four types of South American camelids — two of them wild (guanaco and vicugna) and two domesticated (llama and alpaca). Guanacos and vicugnas are protected species that live in the heights, and the latter are bred in semi-captivity to obtain the finest and most precious wool. Wild herds of both animals are moved towards pens, through a process called “chaku”, where their soft fleece is manually trimmed with scissors.
We also work with industrially spun fibers, but only in their natural shades or naturally dyed, without any chemicals. These natural fibers acquire their colors from the elements provided by the same land that saw them come to life. Flowers, seeds, fruits and tannins provide the necessary colors for both the traditional and fusion designs. The fibers are dyed in trays of hot water that are later drained off and left to dry in the sun, and they are then pressed to eliminate imperfections. As a result, the products respect the unique quality of each fiber: their softness, delicacy and comfort. Natural fibers are an excellent renewable resource, being 100% biodegradable and carbon neutral. For orange, blue and red colored garments, natural dyes are used to enhance the color effect. Other fibers we work with include Andean silk, organic pima cotton (in its natural colors which range from neutral to yellows and browns), merino wool, chaguar, and other natural raw materials such as onyx, nickel, and silver. Artisans spin the fibers by hand and dye them with pigments obtained from native plants, reviving the techniques inherited from our rich history.
Here we present the traceability story of an animaná product, from raw materials to the end- product:
  • Our supply chain begins with the sustainable breeding and shearing of South American camelids in a free environment within the Andes.
  • Classifying and separating the fibers by color, length and thickness is a fundamental stage of the process, after which begins the cleaning of the fibers in pools of hot water and special soaps containing natural elements from the Andes.
  • In order to dye the fibers, we work to recuperate the art of the natural tints, as this knowledge has dissipated in many regions due to extensive use of anilines. The very old from remote villages recall original dyeing techniques from the communities we work with in Peru.
  • The fibers are then manual yarn-spun together with floor, vertical and waist looms. The spinning is defined according to its composition. We look for uniformity in fibers, colors, composition and length.
  • In order to warp the textiles the threads are manually placed in a way which forms the design. Once collocated on the loom the manual weaving begins. One-by-one knots are made with each thread. The pressing is also done manually to eliminate any imperfections (missing threads, knots, etc.) until the textile is perfected, rolled up and ready for sale.
  • The design of each product allows the raw materials to speak for themselves. We believe in recovering the savoir faire of our ancestral techniques, while keeping contemporary design aesthetics in mind.
Through our use of natural fibers and dyes, we demonstrate that luxury fashion, quality and aesthetics are possible through sustainable development and can work in harmony with cultural heritage traditions.

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