STARTING FROM SCRATCH
Bolivia is where it all started in 2004. Here we fell in love with a remarkable people whose legacy of craftsmanship with llama wool – an exquisite yet little known material to outsiders – inspired our journey to build a sustainable supply chain which would respect the Bolivian people and planet.
Bolivia is a stunning, diverse, and rugged country. It has a population of 11 million and almost 50% of its citizens identify as indigenous, belonging to 38 recognized indigenous groups and speaking over 37 official languages. Bolivia’s ecosystems are equally unique, ranging from wetlands and forest in the lowlands to high plateaus and peaks in the Andes mountains.
There is no Aiayu without the incredible fiber of llama wool. All of our Bolivian products are made from this base material. Llamas are indigenous to Bolivia’s highlands and the local people have expertly cared for, worked with, and created beautiful garments from llama fiber for generations.
BUILDING A SUSTAINABLE BUSINESS
When we began searching for production partners in Bolivia, we found that while there was a long history of handcrafted llama wool products, there were no existing facilities to create knit products on a large scale.
But we still felt strongly that all production should be done in Bolivia as their connection to llama wool is irreplaceable and we wanted to provide economic opportunities to this community. So we decided to take on the challenge of building something truly sustainable from the ground up.
Partnering with the Danish International Development Agency and a Dutch non-profit, Aiayu was able to build the first knitwear factory in Bolivia – which has now become a model for sustainable production in the country.
We built everything in our Bolivian facility according to the highest standards, protecting the environment, the workers and their rights. The factory was the first in La Paz to implement a water recycling plant, cleaning 100% of its wastewater and reusing 75% of it. It is also the only factory in La Paz with a WRAP-certification, a leading certification in responsible manufacturing.
We are exceedingly proud that with the help of our partners, we have brought this wonderful material and the Bolivian legacy of craftsmanship to customers around the world.
THE ART OF KNITTING
We make both handknit and machine knit llama wool products. Our handknit items are individual works of art. Each garment is “signed” with the initials of the Bolivian woman who made it as a personal greeting from her to you.
Each design can take up to several weeks to complete. All of our machine-knit items go through a piece by piece quality control process and are always carefully finished by hand.
All of our items are made with incredible care, passion, and attention to detail – using techniques that have been passed down for centuries. Our years of experience with the same material and manufacturer have led to a consistency in quality that you can count on.
ABOUT LLAMA WOOL
Our llama wool is sourced directly from small family farms in the Bolivian highlands where the llamas roam freely and gently graze in their natural habitat.
Llama fiber is long and hollow, not only making it durable and resistant to pilling, but also extremely effective at insulation. It is naturally hypoallergenic as no lanolin is added during processing. One llama sheds 2-3 kilos of raw wool per year, but only the highest quality fibers from this are selected to be used in Aiayu products.
Llama wool comes in 14 beautiful colors – ranging from lighter whites and greys to darker brown and black shades. To minimize our use of dyes we always try to integrate these natural colours into our collections.