Our schizophrenic summer..


A few weeks ago we were at the Hampton Court Flower Show. Our 7th or 8th time so we are old hands at it now. It’s amazing how times change and events evolve. The Gala evening used to be such an elegant affair, with the ladies in pretty dresses and strappy high heels, tottering around on the uneven varied floor surfaces of earth, wooden planks, matting and grass - what you would expect at a flower show in the grounds of a castle.
 I used to be bemused at how inappropriately the ladies came attired but benefited hugely from the fact that they never came prepared for the cold evening in their summer floaty numbers. Often the men would come rushing into the tent, credit cards waving and snap up our wraps and shawls to appease their shivering wives.
Three years in a row we had torrential rain in the evening (which was always forecast, as I was prepared with wellies and raincoat) but still the ladies persevered with how they imagined they should dress at a Summer Flower Show Gala with champagne picnic. That was a few years ago and the Gala isn’t such a smart affair anymore. Perhaps the visitors have learnt from experience and ruined shoes. I miss the glamour and their blind optimism for the evening and now regret my judgemental bewilderment. It is after all that determination to enjoy our summer, whatever it brings, that Brits are known for and thank goodness for it!

The life of a fashion designer...

The life of a fashion designer is often surreal. Mainly because of the calendars we have to follow. Most of the industry is constantly working 12-18 months ahead. Try imagining and attempting to predict what the rest of the world will want to wear in summer the following year wrapped in layers of Alpaca sipping a hot chocolate. It can be challenging even for the most imaginative who are at least immersed in only one collection at a time.

For those of us who design, produce, sell, market and try to build a brand, we must feel comfortable flitting between at least 3 seasons minute to minute day to day. The season we are selling and wearing now, the season that is going live imminently and the following that needs to be created including committing to the raw materials many months in advance (which of course involves looking back at many previous seasons to remind us of those all important patterns of activity).
If someone were to ask me which part of my education helps me the most in this creative life that I have found for myself, I would have to say it is my maths degree! If I wasn't comfortable with numbers and tables I don't know how I would do half of my job, which involves constant analysis. Tables of sales that confirm my own feel for what appealed to customers most the season before. Tables of yarn stock leftover showing which colours need to be topped up, added to the range or dropped.
Tables of stock here and now across the pond to see on which continent we have sold out of our signature pieces that we carry year to year….

Clothes that last forever..

I was catching up with my lovely friend Carlota the other day talking about the challenges of growing a small fashion label (Carlota had a beautiful clothing store in Knightsbridge, London for many years so has lots of industry experience). In the midst of our conversation she sounded perplexed and said "but your clothes last so long and wear so well, that is a challenge..!” She was talking about the summer jackets of mine she's been wearing constantly for at least four years and the fact that they still look so perfect...

I’m so proud of the quality of the clothes we produce but it did get me thinking about the advantages and disadvantages (not many disadvantages to you!) of clothes that last forever… 


Advantages

1. Well the obvious first. Value for money! No need to feel guilty about your purchases as they will pay for themselves many times over. One of our customers recently told us about how her beloved well worn Funnel Neck Jumper had been spirited away for a whole new life by her 18 year old globe trotting model daughter. So effectively you could be buying a family heirloom!

Peru Stories: A sneak peek behind the scenes..

Each year Carina travels to Lima, Peru to our workshop. It is there that her new designs for the year come to life. Each artisanal piece is then hand finished in an ethical, eco friendly environment.

This is a glimpse of what goes on behind the scenes before the collection lands on UK soil..
Our workshop is a happy one. We pay the top rate for all our workers because we value their skills. Their journey to work is a pleasant one as our workshop is in a safe part of Lima, whereas bigger factories tend to be in remote parts, which can be dangerous. Everyone takes great pride and care in their work, which we hope comes through in every piece we produce.

Thank you so much for your continued support. It means the world to us.
Very best wishes,
Carina & the team

What is the difference between an Alpaca and a Llama?

A classic Trivial Pursuit (Genius Edition BTW) question.  Do you know the answer? Firstly, you can start off by telling your fellow contestants that an alternative name for an Alpaca is Llama Pacos (but let’s use the Alpaca word for ease): Alpacas and Llamas belong to the Camelid family – A Llama is about twice the size of an Alpaca and was bred to be a pack animal.  Alpacas were purely bred to be domestic animals.  Although Alpacas dwarf the Llama, Alpacas produce far more fleece, or to be totally correct, FIBRE, than that of a Llama.  Alpaca fibre is lustrous and very silky in texture, it is warmer, doesn’t ‘ball’ up like wool, and, if said wool tends to make you itch, Alpaca fibre will not.
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For centuries the Incas have valued Alpaca fibre as a commodity more valuable than gold or silver.