Slowly the poncho is reappearing on international catwalks, as part of the coats that we surely want to wear next winter. Their Latin American origin and their quality of being timeless (without losing style) makes them a very attractive and versatile garment to cope with low temperatures. But without a doubt, one of the best reasons to acquire a poncho It is a great investment, it is because it is a garment that you are looking for revalue artisan work and South American textile techniques.
When we talk about sustainable fashion, the search to reduce the environmental impact of garments leads us to have a more humane look that respects production times, that is why the ancestral knowledge of the original communities of different Latin American regions is gaining more and more value. The poncho is the perfect synthesis of this. It is one of the most emblematic and recognizable garments in Latin America, which still retains its artisan quality and reflects the textile heritage that we have.
The fact that they are gaining a greater role in international collections is an opportunity to rescue the artisanal and sustainable values that this garment carries with it. This is of great help when it comes to achieving the perpetuity of textile techniques and that these precious ancestral knowledge are not lost along the way.
Where does the poncho originate and how is it made?
Typical of Latin America, the poncho It is an ancestral garment that was used by different pre-Columbian peoples, from Mexico to Argentina. Although it is believed that it is typical of the Andean peoples, different versions of the poncho Throughout the entire south of the American continent, such is the case of Daisy Wende: the Bolivian designer who created the women’s poncho in the 60s. One of the benefits of this garment, which remains to this day, is its simple and almost intuitive cut, which favors its realization avoiding surpluses or waste. We can say that the ponchoAs it is a piece woven on a pedal loom, it does not generate any waste, it is zero-waste For nature.
Its versatility allows it to be woven with an infinity of yarns, which vary in thickness and origin, since llama yarns, sheep wool, alpaca and cotton can be used. Historically, the design of each poncho it fulfilled a very special role, since it represented a specific community, functioning as a kind of uniform. Nowadays, the challenge to make these garments sustainable is in the textile traceability, in being able to ensure that the one acquired is made in an artisanal way, under conditions of fair Trade and respectful with the environment.
The return of the poncho to the catwalks in a sustainable way
The first step was taken Gabriela Hearst, in the recent Autumn Winter 2021 collection, with which she debuted as creative director for Chloé. Three ponchos, with different designs, opened the catwalk, declaring the triumphant return of this garment that reflects Hearst’s Uruguayan textile heritage with the bohemian and chic spirit that characterizes the French firm. Through styling, the ponchos seen in Chloé they give us the guideline that they are also a great complement to quilted garments that are in trend. The path traveled in the sustainable fashion from Gabriela Hearst, who has worked in his firm with communities of weaving artisans such as Manos del Uruguay, set the precedent that this will be the axis that guides his work in Chloé.
In the same way, the Italian firm Stella Jean got back the idea of poncho hand in hand with a group of artisan women from the Umbria region, with whom she has already been working on previous collections, promoting their traditions. In addition, in this Autumn Winter 2021 collection, Stella Jean she connected with a group of artisan women from the Kyrgyzstan region, through the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), seeking to preserve and promote the work and ancestral knowledge of these communities under a contemporary perspective.
Where to find handmade ponchos in Latin America?
Different firms in Latin America take the poncho as a reflection of his own idiosyncrasy and as a garment that raises the pride of being Latin American. The Bolivian firm Juan de La Paz is a great example of this, as well as the Warmi, the Argentine spinning mill that revalues the artisan work of the Puna region. Also, the Peruvian firm SAME or those made by the artisan collective of Uruguay hands They are timeless and handcrafted, made to last over time.