Meet the artisans
Handcrafted to last
The Wayuu Tribe
La Guajira, Colombia
Mochila, clutch ojo, sandals,
purse luna since centuries
Weaving is an ancestral art to
express one’s feelings.
The Wayuu Tribe
The story of the Wayuu tribe
The Wayuus originally come from “La Guajira”, a territory between northern Colombia and Venezuela. It is a very poor desert region. During colonization, the Wayuus were the only tribe that wasn’t conquered by the Spanish. They speak their own language as well as Spanish. Women take care of the chores while men take care of agriculture. The major income of the region comes from craftsmanship and their famous mochila bags.
5 facts about the Wayuu tribe:
- The Wayuu are Amerindians who live between Colombia and Venezuela
- The major income of the region comes from craftsmanship
- A Wayuu woman needs between 15 to 30 days to produce one mochila
- The Ojo Clutches are woven with the so called punch needle technique
- The Wayuu women learn how to knit from their grandmothers at a young age
The creation of Mochilas, Luna purses and Ojo Clutches
The mochilas are the Wayuus’ emblematic bags, a woven sling bag. The base of the mochila is made using the crochet technique with a very tight knot. The shoulder strap is handmade on a weaving loom. Each model is completely unique and 100% handmade. The Luna purses are the base of the mochila folded on itself. The Wayuu use a very particular technique to create the Ojo clutches, called the punch needle technique. They work on a piece of cloth and quilt the fabric with a needle.
U Tin Htun
Lacquerware Bracelets since centuries
Patience is key when it takes 3 months to produce a bracelet.
U Tin Htun
The story of U Tin Htun
U Tin Htun lives in Bagan, an ancient city in Myanmar. The region of Bagan is very popular for craftsmanship and tourism. Most local people work in the tourism field because 300.000 tourists visit the area every year. Myanmar is still a very poor country with a lot of traditions. Only in big cities some people wear jeans, otherwise men wear a kind of long skirt called “longi” for everyday life. People are extremely nice, honest and authentic. Our artisan U Tin Htun has a small workshop in the countryside with 15 employees. He took over the family business runned by ancestors for generations. When you go to his workshop, he has a special room with air conditioning for the most precious pieces. Then he sells middle quality models in a room outside. When I was there, he showed me a small closet that he had been making for over a year for an italian couple.
5 facts about U Tin Htun:
- He lives and has his workshop in Bagan, Myanmar, a city with more than 4000 temples
- The local population principally lives from tourism, more than 300,000 tourists come every year to see the balloons
- Men artisans take care of the lacquerware while women artisans carve the colors
- The frame of the bracelet is sculpted with bamboo by men
- The lacquer comes from the sap of a South Asian tree called Thitsi Tree
The creation Lacquerware Bracelets
U Tin Htun comes from Bagan in Myanmar. His family has been in the lacquerware workshop for many generations. It has been a tradition in Myanmar since the 13th century. U TIn Htun has more or less 15 employees that work for his workshop. Men work with wood and lacquer while women carve with natural colors. It takes around 3 months to produce a bracelet because it needs various weeks to dry between layers of lacquer. Men start by sculpting the bamboo in order to obtain a round shape. Then they put more than 5 layers of lacquer to color tha bracelet in black. Women artisans carve the bracelet to put some touch of color. They leave it to dry for a week and repeat the process more than 5 times.
Iraca Bags and Earrings with banana leaves
Thanks to the Iraca work, we can send our children to university.
The Iraca Village
The story of Angie
Angie has been weaving since a very young age. She learned how to weave from her grandmother. The tradition is passed down from generation to generation. In her house she created a sorts of home of artisans where some of the village’s women come everyday to work together and craft baskets, bags, lamps and other accessories. This very small village near Barranquilla makes a living from their ancestral craftsmanship.
5 facts about the Iraca village:
- Women weave with dry banana leaves
- The bag’s frame is sculpted with iron wire
- The whole village makes a living from craftsmanship
- The children of these modest families have the opportunity to go to university thanks to the revenues of this craftsmanship
- Angie made some bags for a famous colombian designer who lives in the United States
The creation of the Iraca Bags and Earrings
The women artisans start by drying the banana leaves. Once the leaves have dried, they dye them with natural pigments. They form the bag’s frame with an iron wire and sculpt the thread around the iron forming beautiful flowers. The women of this village are very creative, as an example, they’ve transformed fruit baskets into stylish bags.
La Guajira, Colombia
Modernize the Wayuu models.
The story of Yuli
Yuli learned how to weave the crochet technique from her grandmother. They both belong to the Wayuu tribe. She has been weaving her own accessories since she was a little girl. Yuli is now in her twenties and launched her own bikini brand in 2018. She designs them and then she either knits them herself or passes it on to be crafted to a Wayuu woman.
5 facts about Yuli
- Yuli comes from the Wayuu tribe, her grandmother is a Wayuu
- She designs each bikini or top herself
- The bikinis are woven with different knots using the crochet technique
- Yuli’s goal is to create different jobs in her community in an effort to improve overall quality of life in the area
- Yuli gets a lot of inspiration from the occidental boho chic trend
The creation of the Crochet Bikinis
Yuli works together with other Wayuu women. She draws the blueprint and then chooses the colors. She weaves with different knots to give the bikini a modern twist. The bikinis are handmade knot by knot with a crochet needle. It takes about 2 to 3 days to produce one bikini. Yuli is the perfect example of a modern woman. She is inspired by her traditions and creates unique pieces with a unique story.
Leather Belt Bags
One can show its personality thanks to fashion and accessories.
The story of Claudia
Claudia is a shoe designer. She participates in a famous fashion contest in Medellin, Colombia every year and this is where we met her. Her small studio is filled with different shoes. She works with her husband and she takes care of the creative side while her husband takes care of the business end. They love leather and original pieces.
5 facts about Claudia:
- Claudia is a shoe designer
- She loves to draw original and unique shoe designs for her clients
- She mostly works with leather
- She showcases her new collection every year in the biggest fashion event in Medellin
- For Alau she designed an exclusive collection of belt bags called “Animal Print”
The creation of Belt Bags
For this exclusive collection, Claudia collaborated with Laura (Alau’s founder) on the design. Claudia then selected the best leather for each belt bag. The leather has to be rigid to maintain the shape, but still soft in order to be pleasant to the touch. Her artisans cut the leather pieces and assemble them. The finishing touches are given with a special resin to harmonize the belt. The belt buckles are sourced from Italy.
Perpetuate his family tradition.
The story of Samir
Samir comes from Marrakech and he’s been working with raffia his whole life because of his parents, who were both artisans. He started making all his bags himself, but then his brand started growing and people from Europe started asking for more quantity. He launched his small atelier with one other artisan working with him. He now works with his son on the designs and other artisans craft the bags. He’s built a strong reputation for good quality in Morocco and works with different clients across Europe.
5 facts about Samir:
- Samir spent his childhood seeing his mother weaving raffia
- Samir likes to work with his family, his son works with him
- Samir now employs 10 women who live in the mountains to weave the raffia for the bags
- The bags are assembled in his studio in the center of Marrakech
- Samir loves to come up with new designs for his clients, he believes that: “anything can be made with raffia”
The creation of the Raffia Bags
Women from the mountains weave the base of the bags. They weave the raffia with special knots around a frame to give it its shape. To produce the base the women need more than one day. They work with a needle and knit with a lot of patience. Once the base is finished, it goes to Marrakech, where it is assembled. Men take care of the leather work, cutting it and engraving it. When the leather is ready, they weave the leather part of the bag with a big iron needle.
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Live life like a gaucho on a horse.
The story of Sergio
Sergio comes from la Pampa, a rural region in Argentina. He was born and raised among the “gauchos”. He moved to Buenos Aires when he was 18 in order to experience “city life”. He always kept a strong connection with his tradition and this was the main reason why he never stopped working with leather. At one point during his new city life, he started playing with leather together with some friends in Buenos Aires. The “Porteños” (citizens of Buenos Aires) liked his work so much, that he decided to open a small workshop. He sells his accessories in carpincho leather (an Argentinian native animal). Today Sergio has shop where he sells his gaucho products in Buenos Aires.
5 facts about Sergio:
- He comes from la Pampa (a rural region in Argentina)
- Sergio loves to say that his belts are immortal, because they are even more beautiful with time
- Sergio dips the thread into wax in order to make the embroidery more resistant
- The crosses on the belts symbolize the Andes Mountain in the Mapuche civilization
- The belts are made with carpincho leather (an autochthonous animal in Argentina)
The creation of the Gaucho Belts
Sergio starts by cutting two leather parts with a knife. One part is from cow and the other part from carpincho. He assembles these two parts in order to have a nice lining. He then draws the crosses on the leather. After that, he takes the thread and dips it into wax to make it more resistant. Next, he starts embroidering with his hands. This process takes about 5 hours because the leather is very thick. Finally the belt buckle is attached and the belt is finished by painting the leather edges.
Hat & Scarf
The Caline Group
Hats & Scarves from merino wool
Impossible to knit without a mate (Uruguayan tea).
The story of Caline
These three girls have known each other since their childhood days. A few years back they started to knit together on Sundays to unwind with a good mate (Uruguayan herb tea). In 2017 they started their own brand with a few models of blankets, pillows, hats and scarves.
5 facts about Caline:
- The two founders of Caline have known each other since they were 5
- Sofia (the designer) draws the blueprints and is a Caline member since 2018
- The group meets on weekends to unwind and weave together nice hats and scarves
- They use 100% Merino wool from Uruguay, this wool is very soft, warm, and pleasant to the touch
- The girls knit with the crochet technique using a big wooden needle
Creation of the Hats and Scarves
Sofia starts by designing each piece. The girls then go to the shop to buy merino wool in the chosen color. Maite and her friend start to knit hats and scarves using the crochet technique. They use a big wooden needle to make the necessary knots in order to create a hat. Each model is unique and is crafted only in one color.
Punta del Este, Uruguay
Sheep skin Parkas
I love to work with my daughters on the designs.
The story of Gabi
Gabi started to craft sheepskin parkas at a young age. She is the third generation to take over the family business. Her grandfather was managing one of the first “gamulan” (sheepskin) leather workshops in Uruguay. Today Gabi and her husband have two beautiful boutiques in the upmarket regions of Uruguay. Her main boutique is in Punta del Este (the St Tropez of South America). Their two daughters are studying design in order to carry on the family tradition of taking over the family business.
5 facts about Gabi:
- Gabi owns a family business, she works with her husband and her two daughters
- She works with high quality sheepskin leather
- Gabi runs two boutiques in the trendiest areas of Uruguay
- Gabi launches 2 collections per year with a professional fashion show
- Gabi is the third generation to take over the family business
The creation of the Sheepskin Parkas
Gabi or her daughters draw the design and then pass it on to the atelier, where the artisans work with the leather. Each piece of leather is cut by hand according to the design. It is then assembled with a sewing machine. Their leather is characterized by extreme softness. It adjusts to the body shape and it is very pleasant to wear.
Merino Ponchos & Blankets
Punta del este, Uruguay
Poncho maker since 1980
Life is easy, don’t complicate it.
The story of Hugo
Hugo began learning how to weave with the crochet technique when he was 16 and he never stopped since then. 50 years later, he has a small boutique on the Atlantic coast of Uruguay. There he meets his loyal clients (mostly affluent Argentinian tourists) every summer. He loves weaving and his credo is an easy and simple life. He doesn’t want to have a bigger boutique or export his ponchos because it might be a source of trouble. His happiness is his wood hut, a simple life, his two dogs and his merino ponchos.
5 facts about Hugo:
- Hugo began weaving at the age of 16 (he is 66 nowadays)
- It takes three days to knit one poncho
- 100% Uruguayan Merino wool
- Hugo dyes the wool with natural pigments
- He produces the wool yarn himself
Creation of the Merino Ponchos
Hugo buys Uruguayan merino wool in bulk. He then dyes it with natural pigments, for example “marcela”, a typical Uruguayan tea. Once the colors are ready, he produces the wool yarn with an antique spinning wheel. He then weaves the poncho using the crochet technique. It takes about three days to dye the wool, make the thread and knit the poncho. Each poncho is handmade with love and passion by Hugo.
Alau est une marque d’accessoires multiculturelle. Nous voyageons dans le monde entier pour trouver des pièces uniques faites par des artisans passionnés.
Visiter notre Showroom
A Vessy, Geneva