Do you find inspiration in nature? 🍃
The moody soul of the ocean… the rolling green hills of the hinterland?
The simplistic beauty of our natural surroundings is the driving motivation behind local designers:
In our latest blog feature we chat with Anita and Ursula from the Andean Collective, local designers who have brought their cultural experiences from the across the world, home to Byron Bay, Australia.
Andean Collective create feminine everyday women’s wear using raw textured materials, drawing inspiration from the Andean Mountains of Peru.
Read what they had to say below…
The Hills: Can you tell us how the Andean Collective was born and how you both came together to create the label?
Funnily, we met via the online world. Ursula had contacted me to have a chat about a possible collaboration and we instantly clicked.
She wanted me as a model, and when I told her about my background as a pattern maker and bag maker, we found that we were complementing each other perfectly on a professional level.
We started having weekly meetings around creating and realized quickly that our values; such as ethical production and slow fashion, were aligned.
We share a passion and deep love for handmade pieces, integrating knowledge of the old and modern world. Using the ancient traditions of Peruvian embroidery, weaving and mixing it with modern designs, wearable all over the world.
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Happy Artisan day!✨ Today is a very special day for us, we are celebrating a very unique day in Peru with all of our team of talented artisans. We are very grateful to have each of them in our Andean family, sharing their talent to the world whilst empowering women from remote areas in Peru. Thanks to all of you who are making this real and appreciate the story behind each of our products 💕🌈 . . . #slowfashion #textiles #handmade #love #artisan #embroidery #peru #women #ethicallymade #handcrafted #monday #fashionrevolution #byronbay
The Hills: What inspires the direction of the Andean Collective?
Andean Collective believes in fair trade by giving high value to the artisan’s work, basing our principles on a slow fashion movement.
We are strongly committed to heritage, by preserving this ancient weaving tradition and showing the world Peru’s finest embroideries and textiles.
With each of our designs, our aim is to empower women throughout the Andean mountains. They put magic through their hands and make the Andean Collective real.
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Feels incredibly good when you come back home after a year and still find these smiles on each corner. The most magical place in the world, the Andean mountains 💕We are so excited to start showing you beautiful places around Peru, also new pieces arriving soon plusss a big surprise next month! 🙈🙌 Cant wait!! Xx
The Hills: Ursula, you were born in Peru; tell us more about your deep connection with Peruvian traditions and heritage?
When I was 10 years old, my Mom and I moved to the city of Cusco, which is the capital of the Inca empire, located in the middle on the Andean mountains. My Mom’s job with the local communities, involved us in their traditions, designs and heritage. We immediately fell in love with this Andean culture.
I was very lucky to grow up in this beautiful scenery surrounded by talented artisans, friendly people and astonishing nature.
I remember one of my best friends was a local girl named Justina. We were constantly playing around her house, where I started to learn more about their traditions. Her aunties were always spinning the alpaca wool before weaving it on a traditional hand loom. Others were dying with different flower pigments. I couldn’t believe the textiles they were producing, one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by nature and ancient stories.
At school, I was taught Quechua – the native Peruvian language. One of the biggest aims of my teachers was to show us how to connect and appreciate the Andean culture, the heritage that we were losing each year due to modern civilization.
On the other hand, inspired by this culture, my Mom started to design clothes and bags combining fine Italian leather with Andean textiles and did so for more than 10 years.
This unique experience of more than 7 years, inspired us to create Andean Collective.
The Hills: We would love to hear about the process and your Byron Bay design studio.
I have been working for various Byron based labels such as Spell, Liberated Heart and Chasing Unicorns, amongst others using my skills as a Dressmaker.
Having set up my own studio at home, we started working more together from there, until we decided to become partners: Anita Ghise Collection x Andean Collective.
“The aim for me is to create simplistic feminine clothing for everyday wear”.
“Inspired by a love of nature and the ocean, we are using beautifully textured raw materials to create effortless, handmade clothing with love for the free spirited woman”.
I have drawn inspiration from nature, my everyday surroundings such as the beautiful Byron coastline and the lush greens of the Byron hinterland, where I am residing.
Most of our designs are created following the same line which is working directly with Andean women from a remote community throughout the beautiful handwoven details and embroidery.
Empowering women is powerful, especially in underdeveloped areas like the Andean Mountains of Peru.
We work with talented weavers, encouraging them to show their capacity which will not only benefit her individually but the whole world at large.
“When women support each other, incredible things happen”.
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A little bit of @andean_collective to spice up this cool rainy day ❤️ We now have more sizes in the Andean Collective linen dresses. In both sage green and musk pink 💗 We are in love with these fair trade woven rugs and cushions too! Perfect added with our own handcrafted bee wax candles 🐝 Rainforest pottery from possum creek Byron hinterland Aaannnd Mick’s amazing handcrafted wood turned candle holders made from reclaimed fence Pailings to take a little piece of Federal home with you. #andeancollective #byronbay #hinterland #homewares #mothersday #buylocal #supportlocal #artisan #australianmade #fairtrade
the hills: Anita, you have a background in the fashion industry on a global level, we would love to hear about your journey…
It’s quite a long story, and I’m going to try and keep it short and simple, haha.
I was born in Romania, women traditionally started from an early age to crochet, sew and embroider their own clothes. I grew up wearing only hand made pieces from my grandmas, aunts and Mum. I was obsessed with fabrics and creations since I can remember.
Due to political circumstances we had to escape and went to live in Germany for a while, where I learned the art of sewing.
My Mum and I had been travelling through Europe selling art pieces made of glass from Romania, for a long time. Since, I never felt home in Germany and my journey took me somehow via Australia to Argentina where I studied fashion and Dressmaking at university. That’s how I gave my life long passion a label and obtained a university degree.
Working for various local labels, I learned the art of shoemaking by hand, in a small workshop.
I started my own little brand for custom made bags and shoes. Which went really well, but my restless soul took me back to Europe. Where I worked with a small brand in Germany, we had a showroom with 2 collections per year. Customers could pick their style and we would customize it to their preferences; size, fabric, colour. Using only what came from nature, such as cashmere, linen, silk, wool and leather.
Again, I became restless and from previous experience I knew that Byron Bay was the only place that made me feel like home so I took a plane and left my life behind again, embarking on a new journey.
Shortly after I returned, I started working as a pattern maker for Liberated Heart, Spell and other smaller projects.
Always studying – as a foreigner it’s not that easy, haha – I collected a Diploma in Marketing, Business and Project Management along the way to complement my Fashion Degree.
And who would have thought – fell in love pretty much right away, which was over three years ago… not planning on leaving, this is my home now – but I am always open for inspiration from far away places, such as Peru, where the Andean Collective originated.
It is always such an honour when a fellow designer embraces our designs and rocks them as good as this!
💕 Thank you Anita & Ursula for sharing your inspiring stories with our wonderful Hills customers xo
Follow Andean Collective: @andean_collective
The Hills Emporium photo ©️ Matt Mooney
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