Designers Andria Crescioni, known for designing Loomstate's zero-waste anarok, and Courtney Cedarholm debuted their collaboration with Peruvian non-profit Awamaki on January 27, at the Textile Arts Center in New York City.
As I anticipated, the design team has revealed a surprisingly fashion forward daywear collection that successfully pairs traditional Peruvian textiles with modern, wearable styles, proving that Awamaki Lab is moving beyond its infancy. TreeHugger gets the scoop on the difficult yet rewarding design process, and more, in an interview with the designers, below.
At Awamaki Lab, the designers worked with impoverished Quencha women weavers and develop contemporary clothing for a western market using fair trade textiles. Notable pieces include the Qusa Tee, a wardrobe staple with a handwoven fabric pocket detailing, the cropped Cacao Jacket that boasts contrasting patchwork textiles without overwhelming, and the fashion forward Patacancha Anorak, which has a Peruvian spin to a classic Barbour coat style.
TreeHugger: Can you describe the collection in three words?
Andria Crescioni: Casual, considered, and natural.
Courtney Cedarholm: Nostalgic, evocative, and pastoral.
TH: Tell me about the materials this season.
AC: A main focus of the collection is to showcase traditional, hand-woven textiles from the Patacancha Valley. Each garment incorporates an element of hand-woven textile, from an entire pattern piece to a trim. Supplementary woven fabrics and yarns, including cotton canvas, flannel, and poplin, were sourced in Peru, as well, and the alpaca yarn knitwear came from a farm in Arequipa.
TH: How was the design process similar or different compared to past design experiences?
AC: In Peru, the initial research step was similar but the overall design decisions and fabric developments were dictated by the handwoven textiles we were working with, as well as the materials available to us. Each pattern piece had to fit the width of a pasadiso, or traditional table runner, and they also couldn’t be overly complicated to allow for realistic production capabilities. Courtney and I created the samples along with our sewing and knitwear co-ops, which was the first time I’ve collaborated on the execution of a garment.
CC: We were both coming right out of school at Parsons in New York where the focus was completely on aesthetics and we where had access to anything and everything. We really had to change gears in Peru, where there were limited resources and a certain set of skills within the women's co-ops. We had to design within that and it made us think more creatively because the restrictions forced us to find new solutions.
TH: Has this experience impacted the way you design? How so?
AC: Yes. The personal experiences I shared with the women involved with Awamaki is something I want to carry into my work going forward. I love the experience of working directly with an artisan and getting a first hand look at a different way of life.
CC: Yes, I now know I will always need to be aware of designing to a high aesthetic value as well as making sure that every step in the garment creation process is causing something positive.