Alternative's 2014 spring collection taps into Peru's ancient textile traditions. The eco-fashion brand has created six new sustainable fabrics derived from a single type of organic cotton. "Cotton originated from Peru in 2500 BC, in Pre-Incan times," said Erik Joule, President and Chief Merchandising Officer of Alternative. "The combination of a superior cotton strain and a high level of craftsmanship embedded in the Peruvian people were a factor in our decision to support Peru."
The "Made in Peru" project is the result of a partnership between Alternative and Peruvian textile makers to create fair-trade clothing. Although the designers are working with traditional fibers, the style of the collection is fresh. Joule told TreeHugger that the designs are inspired by ultra-modern cities like Tokyo and L.A. "We are inspired by the fact that beauty emerges amongst chaos in both Tokyo and Los Angeles, Alternative is rooted in simple and beautiful aesthetics which can offer a respite from our chaotic world."
The collection includes basics for men and women, such as tee shirts, hoodies, shorts and button downs. A few more unique pieces stand out, like the Tokyo-inspired Edo Cape (shown below) and Sachi Top.
To help tell the story of these garments, Alternative produced a collection of short videos.
The garments use all-natural dyes. "There are plants like the Pepper tree and Coffee leaves that give very beautiful muted tones whereas a parasite like the Cochinella is vibrant in its reds and purples," said Joule. "Fibers are also a big consideration with plant-based dyes, the fiber must be natural, cellulose based like linen, silk and cotton as well as animal fibers like wool."
For some of our readers, looking for a locally made clothing brand is a top priority. However, Alternative embraces the global economy, and attempts to navigate around its pitfalls by maintaining transparency. "In many instances locally sourced product is the best answer, like regarding food for example," said Joule. "We do live in a globally connected economy and leveraging the best cotton in the world and manufacturing it within that nation supporting its people and economy is also a sustainable decision from a human point of view."