Let’s Knit Down to It!
Posted on 17 September 2019
An honest conversation about Huaywasi knitwear
As our Fall Winter 2019 collection has officially launched, we decided to dive into a recurring conversation we have been having with customers around our knitwear, and more directly, why its price point is somewhat (let’s be honest: sometimes much) higher than that of our other products. If you’re wondering why our Huancayo headbands cost more than most of our shirts, we’re here to help clear up some confusion :) We’re hoping this article can help customers better understand our knit prices based on two simple principles.
If you think more about the steps and tools used to go from raw materials to a finished product at Huaywasi, you almost always run into a machine intended to help an artisan, whether that be sewing machines, looms, kilns, screenprinting irons, etc. With knitwear, you simply have a pair of knitting needles and the strong, capable hands of our artisan partners Alejandra and Nélida.
When your hands take on the work of a machine, the bottleneck in the process becomes time. Of course knitting by hand takes more time than machine knitting. At Huaywasi we don’t see that necessarily as a bottleneck, but more as a testament to the uniqueness, quality, and artisan dedication put into every piece.
Take our Alejandra Blanket Scarf for example. This scarf is not only our most expensive piece of knitwear we’ve launched this year, but most likely one of the most expensive products we’ve launched in our history, retailing at $208. This might at first glance seem unreasonable for an accessory, but digging deeper into the time spent on the piece you may change your opinion.
Alejandra spent a total of 49 hours to complete that scarf alone (yes, that is over a full week of work!). Our hats, gloves, and headbands on average take Alejandra and Nélida about 9 hours per piece to complete, with scarves averaging higher.
We base our prices heavily on how much we pay our artisan partners, which in turn is based on how much of their time they invest into each product. Does that blanket scarf price tag make a little more sense now? In our opinion, it definitely does!
2. Raw Material
With 2019 knitwear being our second year of exclusively using 100% alpaca yarn, we wanted to share a little background on why alpaca fibers have so many benefits, thus explaining the higher price per cone.
We work with two Peruvian yarn suppliers: Michell and Itessa, both of which are committed to sustainable and ethical production practices. The process of shearing alpaca is extremely ethical compared to other wools and cashmere fibers. An alpaca is shorn once per year in late spring, which provides Peruvian farmers with a valuable source of income. And not to worry, alpacas don’t mind being shorn, it actually helps them to avoid heat stress in summer, commonly referred to as a “cosmetic procedure”.
It is in the farmers’ best interests to let the alpacas live as long as possible in good conditions so they can regrow their wool. Alpacas roam freely most of the year in the Andes, only being captured and gently sheared to be re-released.
Alpaca fiber has been used in Peru for centuries, seen as “the Gold of the Andes” by the ancient Incas, and still remains as an important cultural symbol in the Andes Mountains. Today, Peru accounts for more than 80% of the world’s alpaca population, accumulating a stimulating, economically prosperous industry for more than 120,000 families.
The cherry(s) on top of all of this? Alpaca fiber is warmer, stronger, lighter and softer than other competitors such as cashmere and merino wool. It doesn’t shrink or pill, is hypo-allergenic and odor-resistant, and has the largest color range of almost any natural fiber!
Bringing together all of these amazing qualities creates a sustainable, luxurious thread, and although it’s pricier than synthetic alternatives, Huaywasi believes it is a critical step for our brand towards a greener future with our ever-present commitment to high quality.
Huaywasi’s artisanal touch coupled with the best yarn in the market does not come without a price. We are happy to announce that we have slightly lowered prices this year without undervaluing the artisan’s work (Check out our Ayacucho headwraps for just $34!). We hope the points above helped to educate and explain our prices in a more real way, as we are always striving to keep both our customers and artisans happy!
Check out our latest knitwear collection here and join the conversation below as we would love to continue the open discourse!
Writers & Contributors: Eva Leek and Jill Schneider