Chaleca strives to generate better incomes for knitters in Bolivia while providing lasting exclusive knitwear
We believe that making a top quality garment requires skills, craftsmanship and finest raw material. This is why all our garments are not available in stock at all times. Inspired by quality and function we make classic and sustainable knitwear.Historically, women have not been paid a fair share for their craftsmanship and in our time of fast fashion prices and wages are pushed to the bottom. When we started Chaleca 2012 one source of inspiration was the business model of the Swedish company Bohus Knitting. Through exclusively designed, hand knitted cardigans, the company enabled women to earn an income during the great depression and onwards (1939-1969) in Bohuslän at the Swedish west coast. Our knitwear is designed in Sweden and knitted by women in Bolivia. Through Chaleca we hope to contribute to their empowerment.
All garments are designed in Sweden and produced by women in the knitting collective Comunidad Andina Suma Satawi, located in El Alto, La Paz in Bolivia. The women make the garments on hand knitting machines and the most exclusive pieces fully by hand. The knitwear are produced at their common artisan studio or from the women’s homes. We keep in close contact with our knitters without middle men. Through the knitting collective the women get to earn their own income. We are proud to be able to pay a fair share in return for the high quality craftsmanship.
Most of our garments are made from 100% alpaca wool that comes from llamas and alpacas in the highlands around La Paz in Bolivia. The animals’ fibers provide alpaca wool that is way superior to other types of wool as it is both light weight and warm. Bolivian alpaca wool has a soft and silk-like nature which gives the garment shimmering and a similar fall as silk fabric. It lasts longer than any other luxury fibre. Alpaca have evolved over thousands of years in the high Andean mountains where winters are cold and harsh, and the summers hot. Alpaca wool is also famous for not itching or causing allergies, and is friendly to babies and people with sensitive skin. In addition alpaca is a sustainable choice of fibre with low environmental impact. The alpacas graze freely with minimal impact on the land. Our alpaca yarn is spun and dyed at the local spinning mill Coproca Bolivia. The alpaca animals graze freely in the Bolivian highlands. The suppliers of the fibre only use hand shearing technique for taking the fibre from the animals, which is not harmful. The spinning mill uses eco-friendly washing and dyeing processes. For washing the fibers a detergent approved according to Öko-Tex standard 100 is used. The colorants used are the same kind we use ourselves when we dye by hand in Sweden, and that we know is not harmful for our knitters, customers or environment. These are biodegradable auxiliary products from an international manufacturer, which is member of Ecological and Toxicological Association of Dyes and Organic Pigments Manufacturers (ETAD). The spinning mill does not hold any environmental certificate because of its relatively small operation.
For our most exclusive cardigans we have developed a unique own yarn consisting of Corriedale wool and angora – a light weight, super fine yarn that gives warmth, softness, halo and fluffiness to the knitwear. Corriedale is an old cross breed sheep that produces a lovely, fine yarn soft enough to wear next to the skin. Our Corriedale wool comes from sheep grazing in the Falkland Islands and is of high welfare. The angora fibres are from angora rabbits at Seidenhase, a farm in Germany where the animals are treated with respect, fed with local natural grains and shaved gently by hand. This yarn is spun at The Natural Fibre Company, an English spinning mill licensed for organic production and dyeing by The Soil Association, a standard equivalent and harmonised with the Global Organic Textile Standard (GOTS). The yarn itself is not certified since the raw material has no organic certification.
To compensate for our negative impact we strive to climate compensate all emissions from freights from our supplier and to our customers. We climate off sett through supporting tree planting and renewable energy projects verified by the UN and certified according to the Gold Standard. (An independent quality assessment of carbon dioxide emission reduction projects with social criteria in addition to the environmental.)
As with all knitted wool garments, the rule of thumb is they will last longer if you spot clean and air them instead of washing them. The humidity in the air helps the fibres to recapture its resistance to dirt and odour. When you wash your garment, we recommend hand wash or machine wash at 30°C with no spin and use mild wool detergents. The garment should be dried flat on a towel. Take care of stains as quickly as possible. For stains that are not easily removed, start with treating the stain with bile soap on the affected area. Wait about 20 minutes before washing it by hand or in the machine.