Motivated by the belief that ethics and aesthetics can join hands, channelling culture via design

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A responsible business drawing on ancient values and textile traditions led to the creation of an alliance designed to amplify Peruvian brands on the global stage.

‘All we knit is love’

Ayni is the belief of ‘today for you, tomorrow for me’ in the ancient language of the Incas. The word embodies the concepts of cooperation and reciprocity that are central to members of local communities – a way of living with the belief that giving comes before receiving.

The ayni philosophy is the thread that holds the fabric of our value chain together. AYNI is based in Peru, a country with an ancient textile tradition dating back more than 5,000 years. Every single garment is made in Peru by Peruvian artisans and using only the finest Peruvian materials, such as pima cotton and alpaca wool.

This responsible business model is based on reciprocity and mutual benefit, allowing everyone in the value chain to be part of a deeper sense of purpose. Our main purpose is to create, inspire and empower, driving social, economic and environmental impact while contributing to creating a more responsible ecosystem of fashion that favours people and the planet. We believe we all have a better chance of being happy and successful when we can dedicate our lives to the things we love and feel passionate about. In our case, we are motivated by the belief that ethics and aesthetics can join hands, channelling culture via design.

Photo credit: AYNI

‘We create pieces that cultivate heritage based on the philosophy of reciprocity with love as our driving force’

The AYNI family includes more than 250 artisans from more than 10 different workshops, from Lima to the high Andes cities of Cusco and Puno. Most of the knitters (92%) are women, who, on average, support families of five members.

In 2012, we established the AYNI Certify programme in collaboration with the Peru Ministry of Employment. We have trained and certified more than 2000 artisans in Peru and Bolivia, giving them official recognition for their arts and labour. The certification centre is a way of giving back, and there is one important element that connects everything and everyone in the value chain: love.

Garment made by AYNI
Photo credit: AYNI

At AYNI, we consider design and craft as equal. Craft practices and social design processes are our key areas of innovation. We transform and translate culture and heritage through contemporary yet timeless design that is understood and appreciated in our modern complex lives around the world. It’s part of our DNA to communicate through our collections, using storytelling to share our values and create awareness about arts, crafts and good practice while we encourage our customers to wear their values.

Empowerment is of extreme importance at AYNI – the empowerment of women in particular. Many of AYNI’s artisans have now become workshop leaders, role models for future generations and living testimonies of how ‘empowered women change the world’ – the slogan of Fondation Chanel, and one we can relate to.

In 2017, one of our AYNI projects was selected for support by Fondation Chanel, in collaboration with CODESPA. The main objective was to enhance social and economic inclusion for women in the Lake Titicaca region in Peru and Bolivia through their craftsmanship. Part of the project was to train and certify more than 300 artisans in the labour skills of handcrafts and knitting, encouraging specialisation and strengthening the understanding of quality standards and international demands, while preserving textile traditions and highlighting the talents of the artisans. This enriching experience fostered new opportunities for all parties. One outcome was a capsule collection that was launched in September 2018 in Bergdorf Goodman in New York, where AYNI was invited for a special event. Selling our line in the prestigious department store was a dream come true, and seeing our designs in the windows facing Central Park and Fifth Avenue an achievement and a motivation to continue our work.

This responsible business model is based on reciprocity and mutual benefit, allowing everyone in the value chain to be part of a deeper sense of purpose

The AYNI brand has received both national and international recognition as an innovative company creating high social impact by optimising traditional techniques, developing new yarn compositions and experimenting with natural-plant based dye to combine impact with competitive advantage, driving more sales and differentiating our products. To continue expanding the AYNI family and including more artisans in our value chain, we must first and foremost be a sustainable business, increasing sales and strengthening our brand positioning. AYNI´s vision of tomorrow’s luxury in the world of fashion and lifestyle has already attracted key international partners such as Moda Operandi, Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman, as well as many retailers in the US, Europe and Asia. The brand is often featured in the international press, from Bloomberg and NY Journal to British Vogue, Vogue Italy, Paris and Latin America, US Elle and Harper’s Bazaar. AYNI is also frequently featured on trend forecasting platforms such as WGSN and Fashion Snoops as a trendsetting brand to watch, and is included in the brandsharing platform TAGWALK, also known as ‘the Google of fashion’.

Laerke Skyum & Adriana Cachay
Photo credit: AYNI

All these achievements and experiences led to the idea of creating the Peruvian fashion and textile cluster FAIR (Fashion Alliance for Innovating Responsibly). We have always strived to be changemakers and to actively participate in the development of the industry and the complex ecosystem of fashion and lifestyle. We align many of our goals with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and believe strongly in the power of creating alliances and partnerships to achieve those goals and deliver impact.

AYNI has gathered together some of the most important industry players, from suppliers of primary material to manufacturers, brands, universities, ministries, public and private institutions. Today, AYNI is one of the 30 founding partners also represented on the board of directors, leading initiatives with the common goal of improving the competitiveness of the sector and internationalising Peruvian brands. We want the label ‘Made in Peru’ to be associated with quality, innovation and good practice, while encouraging more conscious lifestyles and consumption.

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