Alpaca sweater in Argentina
In 2018, I live in a shared apartment in Buenos Aires. After a trip my roommates took to northern Argentina, they brought back some alpaca sweaters that immediately piqued my interest. Fascinated by the designs and quality, I set out to find out the origin of these sweaters. Little did I know at the time that this would become the beginning of a long adventure….
The journey took me first to Salta (northern Argentina), where I found the patterns of the sweaters of my roommates. At the textile markets I informed myself about the origin of the sweaters and wanted to know who was making them. Unfortunately, I had to learn that the sweaters are not made in Argentina, but from Peru or Bolivia by many different families. Saddened but equally determined by my intention, I returned to Buenos Aires.
Odyssey through Peru
Always with my project in mind, some friends asked me if I would like to travel with them to Peru. I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea and the chance to find the origin of alpaca sweaters in addition to a great trip motivated me.
The trip led me first to La Paz (Bolivia) from where I traveled on to Puno (Peru) to meet my friends who had traveled before. If I had known then that I was already so close to the origin of the alpaca sweaters…
Through a few more stops, I finally found the sweaters again in Cusco. There I asked at the textile markets where I could find the families/manufacturers of the alpaca sweaters. From small street vendors I then landed at the local wholesaler. Here it turned out that the sweaters are not made in Cusco. At least there I could buy a colorful assortment of sweaters, which I shipped to Germany. I put individual sweaters on sale in various online portals. Through this I checked if there was any interest in the sweaters at all.
From the trip to Peru I first returned to Buenos Aires without having found out the origin of the sweaters. But even this setback did not discourage me. A few months later, I decided to contact all relevant industry representatives as well as local authorities by e-mail. Unfortunately, this did not lead to the desired result either. Finally, I met a friend in Buenos Aires whose uncle works in textile export in Peru and could help me.
Professional development of Incasol
With the help of my new contact in Lima, I was able to realize the first delivery of 60 sweaters in 2019. Back in Germany and with the active support of my roommates and friends, the first real article photos were taken. After initial good sales, more sweaters could be ordered. Still as a side project, Incasol developed very positively compared to the previous year. Due to this development it was planned to spend more instead of less energy and time for 2021.
So, despite complicated Corona regulations, I traveled again to Peru in March 2021 with company. The goal was to finally find out where the sweaters are made. We wanted to find out who is behind the sweaters and how they are produced. After numerous stops, hellish trips on Peruvian roads, unpleasant acquaintances with people and animals, but also incredible nature, interesting characters and culinary highlights, we actually found the faces behind the unique alpaca products. After a month of traveling across Peru, we found ourselves at the doorstep of Efrain and his family, who live near Lake Titicaca. We were warmly welcomed and they gave me detailed insights into the production process and everything that has to be considered. We immediately understood and appreciated each other. Since this meeting all Incasol products are exclusively handmade by this and other friendly families.