TAFA: The Textile and Fiber Art List

Thursday, July 3, 2008

KUSIKUY Slow Fashion Pulling Ahead

by Tamara Stenn
KUSIKUY is Slow Fashion.
"Slow Fashion exists in a thoughtful, sustainable apparel market."
- Treehugger Blogger

Slow Fashion garments are carefully hand made of locally sourced, natural materials. There is minimum (if any) processing of these materials. Materials are natural, intact, just as nature intended them to be. This leads to garments that are made with premium fibers, ones that are not weakened through chemical processes and ones that will wear well and last longer.

Kusikuy sells yarn and hand-carved buttons on their website.

KUSIKUY's Andean alpaca is the perfect example of a slow fiber. Our free range, indigenous herds produce the finest alpaca in the world. KUSIKUY sweaters last an average of 10 years and can be machine washed hundreds of time. Slow fashion labor practices are fair. Tailors and knitters are careful experts in garment construction and are paid well for their expertise.

Slow Fashion is also sustainable. Being locally sourced and hand made, cuts down on transportation and helps to grow and support communities. KUSIKUY's indigenous knitters are also organic farmers. Today they are more dependent on sweater production now that the tropical glaciers are melting and drying up. These glaciers once provided water for Andean crops. Now the underground, glacial-fed aquifers are gone. Crops can no longer be grown and a life sustaining income is lost. Knitting has helped to replace some of this lost income through knitting work. Buying fibers direct from local herdsman also extends the earnings made by the community.

Kusikuy Knitters in Bolivia

"Slow Fashion also rejects the trend-focused planned obsolescence that has driven the fashion industry for decades," explains Elaine Lipson, writer, artist and sustainable textile expert. Lispon also explains, "Slow Fashion emphasizes lasting design and craftsmanship, so you can buy fewer clothes with a longer life. Design and color palettes are compatible from season to season, so you can build a wardrobe instead of replacing everything in an increasingly rapid and wasteful cycle. Brand loyalty and quality replace quantity." More information (and books) on slow fashion, organics, and fashion can be found at Lipson's website http://lainie.typepad.com/redthread/2008/01/slow-cloth-fash.html

Slow fashion saves you, the consumer, time and money. No longer you have to spend time and gas traveling to stores constantly shopping for clothes. Slow Fashion clothes last longer, look nicer, and in the long run cost less. Plus you now have favorite clothes you look forward to wearing, have a relationship with, and remember. (Note: How many items do we forget are even in our closets because we never wear them? They are too hard to clean, the color is off, we are waiting for the style to come back in fashion, etc.).

Here's an example: Lets say an average factory made wool sweater costs $35 and lasts a season. Then stitches come apart, it pills, stretches, shrinks, and in general is no longer is in style. So another sweater is purchased the following year at the same throw-away price of $35. In six years $210 and countless hours and gas have been spent on buying and replacing "cheap fashion" sweaters. The average KUSIKUY hand knit, luxury quality, alpaca sweater costs $185 and lasts not six but 10 years! So KUSIKUY sweaters are actually much "cheaper" than the un-sustainable throw-away fashions that we may normally buy.

And the savings is not just in your own purse, but in your world too. By buying a KUSIKUY (or any) Slow Fashion garment, you are saving your world from throw away garments entering landfills, the carbon contamination from overseas shipping, and the use of slave-like labor practices often associated with cheap, factory, "throw away fashion" manufacturing.

Slow fashion is mindful, careful, consumerism that fosters positive relationships with the world and its people, of which we all are a part.

Founded in Bolivia in 1997, KUSIKUY was developed by US Peace Corps volunteer, Tamara Stenn. Upon finishing her work with the Peace Corps she returned to the United States to earn a Masters in Intercultural Management from the School for International Training. Inspired by fellow Fair Trade counterparts, KUSIKUY has grown from a small home based business to become an international internet retailer and wholesaler.

In 2004 KUSIKUY became a proud member of the Organic Trade Association and expanded its line of hand made natural clothing to include EKO certified organic pima cotton. Tamara saw a need for more support for the development of organic clothing cooperatives. In 2001, AYLLU, Inc. a 501c3 non profit, was created to help with grass roots development in the Andes and the education of consumers about of benefits of using Fair Trade and organic products. In June 2007 KUSIKUY's headquarters town, Brattleboro, Vermont, became the 2nd Fair Trade Town in the USA. This initiatve was created and backed by KUSIKUY and AYLLU.


1 comment:

  1. It's wonderful to discover this inspiring blog! Thank you for quoting me and for linking to my site.

    Elaine Lipson


“Sing like no one's listening, love like you've never been hurt, dance like nobody's watching, and live like it's heaven on earth.”

“Whatever you say, say it with conviction.”

(Both by the master, Mark Twain)

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