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Designer Spotlight

Pa-cha-coo-tee

14 November 2013
Carry Somers with hat weavers

Pachacuti, which means ‘world upside-down’ in the Quechua language, was set up in 1992 by Carry Somers in an effort to redress the inequalities in the fashion industry through Fair Trade.

Whilst on a research trip to Ecuador, Somers witnessed the exploitative nature of the wool trade due to the low levels of literacy and numeracy of the producer groups. Vendors overcharging on the weight of wool purchased, and arson attacks on co-operatives who posed a threat to intermediaries were all common practice. Outraged by the exploitation, she took inspiration from Anita Roddick’s autobiography, and set about making a positive impact within the fashion industry.

As the first company in the world to be certified under the World Fair Trade Organization(WFTO) Sustainable Fair Trade Management System, Pachacuti continues to push the boundaries in their commitment towards social, economic and environmental responsibility throughout the entire supply chain.

Most recently, Pachacuti were amongst seven organisations worldwide to be approved by the WFTO under the new Guarantee System. This highly prestigious label required the brand to conduct in depth risk assessments of their producer groups whilst measuring their adherence to the Fair Trade principles and creating action plans for improvement. Additional stages required peer assessment by fellow UK brand People Tree, and a further independent audit of both their UK premises and their producer groups in Ecuador.

This new label is evidence of Pachacuti’s ongoing commitment, as a Fair Trade fashion pioneer, to act as a role model within the fashion industry, demonstrating that it is possible to adhere to the highest standards whilst still operating as a successful and profitable company. Carry, in her own words, understands the vital role Fair Trade plays in “entailing a supportive relationship between [the brand] and producer groups, working to improve their skills and capacity, teaching good environmental and business management, as well as ensuring good working conditions and a fair wage.”

Hilda, the Production Manager at the Panama Hat weavers’ association in Ecuador says, “Pachacuti has always been very supportive to the members of our association. They are an excellent client with good ideas, teaching us many new things, and gives us a great desire to work for them. We are very happy to work here because there is a very good environment and beautiful location. Pachacuti also provides us with dye courses, new weaving techniques, a fascinator workshop and other activities which increase our knowledge and skills.”

After 21 years pioneering Fair Trade fashion in the UK, Pachacuti’s commitment to economic, environmental and social sustainability provides a benchmark for the fashion industry. A great business, a great ethos and a great product; it is a real honor to be a stockist of this inspirational brand and their beautiful Ecuadorian felt hats.

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