APLF LEATHER & MATERIALS+ | 31 March - 2 April 2020, Hong Kong

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Five Millennia of Sustainable Fashion in the Andes of Peru
  • Date:

    14 Mar 2019

  • Time:

    14:00 - 15:00

  • Location:

    Main Stage, Hall 3E South Concourse

Fashion is as old as the wardrobe, which became unsustainable when wearers began outliving their clothing. The 18th Century European Industrial Revolution made yarn and cloth cheap, facilitating over consumption and waste, skyrocketing demand that in turn fueled poverty and social unrest in sweat shops and mills in the West.

Sustainability is not just about balancing the equation of supply and demand, environment or resources, but of human and cultural equality, dignity and self-sufficiency. Distributing demand where brands can promote economic and political stability is often far more important that mitigating a carbon footprint or switching from one luxury fibre to another, as pricing and fashion dictate.

North American anthropologist and Naturtex organic textile entrepreneur James M. Vreeland, Jr. was inspired by the ancient history of luxury fibers and fabrics from the Andes of South America, site of the oldest textile fibers discovered world-wide. For over 3 decades, Naturtex has striven to put people first in a developing country where ancestral fibres of naturally pigmented native cotton and alpaca are still produced almost exclusively by peasant and indigenous communities.

Since 1984, these communities have collected their fibers under both organic and fair trade regimes while situated in some of the harshest regions of the world—the severe desert coast and above 4,000 meters in the windswept Altiplano. Naturtex in turn transforms these unique fibers into luxury yarns, fabrics, apparel and accessories in Lima, Peru’s capital with a population over 15 million. Home to arguably the most extensive, sophisticated and diverse industrial textile industry world-wide, Peru highlights a textile tradition rooted in thousands of years of innovation in technique, design and social relevancy.