Bolivia is where it all started for us over a decade ago. Here we discovered a little known wool fibre that comes from llamas living in the highlands of Bolivia reaching altitudes as high as 5,000 metres. Which would explain why the local indigenous people poetically refer to these as the fibres nearest the sky.
The quality of the fibre is utterly exquisite. It’s a natural wonder unsurpassed anywhere else in the world.
It’s here where we make our Aiayu knitwear.
For us, our Bolivian connection is so much more than a story about a remarkably high quality llama wool. It’s also the story about a unique country and its indigenous people. How they have survived the high altitude of the highlands. The rainy summers and dry winters. Sharing the surroundings with these amazing animals and at the same time, earning their livelihood from them – for centuries.
OUR APPROACH IN BOLIVIA
When we first visited Bolivia In 2004, it was a troubled country. Rich in resources and raw materials but ironically, the poorest country in South America.
It was undeveloped and in need of export opportunities. We saw great potential. Their local knowledge of knitting, artisan skills and the availability of the llama wool itself … It was all exactly what we had hoped to find.
At the same time, we saw this as the ideal opportunity to establish a responsible, sustainable production - right from the start.
Together with our local llama wool producer and partner, along with aid from the Danish Foreign Ministry, the existing wool production was expanded to become the first knitwear factory in Bolivia. Soon spinning, dyeing and knitting facilities were constructed and suddenly we were up and running. It was all very exciting. But what we’re most proud of is the fact that we helped facilitate a supply chain that’s completely in-house. And from a business perspective, completely transparent.
Everything was built according to European standards in terms of protecting the environment, as well as the workers’ and their rights. In fact, it became the first factory in La Paz to implement a water recycling plant, cleaning 100% of the water from the factory and reusing 75% of all water. It is the only factory in La Paz with a WRAP certification and the sole producer of this exquisite material in the world.
By concentrating our efforts on exploring on one material with one producer, we have an in-depth knowledge and understanding of the potential of llama wool - and the unique skills of the local artisans. The result is a focus on offering the best of the best based on an eco-conscious concept that benefits both you, the consumer enjoying our products, as well as the people who make them.