KNITTING A BETTER FUTUREby Blog Editor, Selvedge
What is one of the most important socio-economic necessities of this century? According to NGO Hands on Peru, it is working towards gender equity and the empowerment of women. Aiming to empower women into the Peruvian labor market, Hands on Peru founded CHIMUK, a social impact, ethical & sustainable fashion brand where women empower other women to develop their talents in textile crafts.
Chimuk works directly with women who have never had the opportunity to acquire any professional training; recognizing that the freedom to choose a path of personal development is essential for human dignity - specifically economic freedom - which can prevent violence, poverty and associated physical and mental health problems.
In 2016, Katie Baric, a 24-year-old USA citizen and public health expert, and Rosa, a 28-year-old Peruvian nurse, arrived in Villa Los Ángeles, a marginalized neighborhood near the World Heritage Site Chan Chan, on the northern coast of Huanchaco, Peru. Seeing that the community did not have access to basic health services, they built, with great effort, the first Center for Public Health in Peru, a pilot project to improve the health conditions of the area. After a few months, they saw how the community became actively involved in the programs, with their ongoing participation being the greatest achievement that would eventually lead to behavior change.
From the very first stages of the project, the economic, emotional and personal empowerment of women has been one of the primary objectives of the organisation.Two years later, the Chimuk brand was born.
One of the lessons learned through Chimuk is that when a woman is able to develop a talent and give value to it, she can find her own value in society. This epiphany can then add color to her life and then become a catalyst for her own personal development. Through cultivating employment, you can cultivate dignity, and through fostering talent, you can foster self-esteem.
Each artisan highly values their participation in Chimuk, as the brand positively impacts the wellbeing of these women and their personal satisfaction. Chimuk is a strong sisterhood and behind each handknit garment there is a face, a name, and even a family, that represents perseverance & dedication.
Laura araujo, Design and Production Coordinator at Chimuk says, "The real beauty of the project is to see the emotion and pride in the artisans when they are discovering what they can create with their own hands and skills".
The north of Peru is the guardian of great cultural wealth, the cradle of highly organised civilizations. The recovery of traditions, techniques and visual art of the pre-Columbian "Chimú" culture has been a great added value for the social impact brand. Through their knitted designs, they convey the story and legends of the Andean settlers, which are always characterised with an immense respect for the sea, the land, and the “apus” (mountain peaks).
Recently, a find in the Archaeological Citadel of Chan-Chan revealed clay plates from the Chimú culture that represented their agricultural fields from an aerial perspective. This not only aroused curiosity, but also encouraged the design team to look at these motifs from a different point of view and ultimately inspired Chumuk’s “Rebirth” collection. Agriculture plays a central role in Villa Los Angeles, because it offers employment and socialisation, as well as notions of living with / and adapting to nature. “La Siembra” or “The Sowing” reflects a post-pandemic rebirth.
In remote co-creation workshops by the Swiss agency “Toqapu Consulting”, and with the design team headed by Laura Araujo from Trujillo, these Chimu archaeological motifs were abstracted and reinterpreted, so that the artisans themselves could elaborate their own creations. The result is a captivating collection of knit winter accessories made of alpaca fibres and organic cotton, with a contemporary character that does justice to the historical aspects of these millennia-old works, transporting them to the 21st century in a subtle way.
Find out more about Chimuk and their new collection "Root of Rebirth" on their website: www.shopchimuk.com