The story behind our Techua sweater

People The story behind our Techua sweater

31 oktober 2019

The story behind our Techua Sweater

Essentiel Antwerp teams up with Solid


We are proud to announce that we’ve teamed up with Belgian-based Solid for our Fall/Winter 2019 Techua sweater.

Solid is a development organization, founded in 2000, that wants to fight poverty in the long term. They do this by effectively and sustainably joining forces between socially responsible companies and non-profit organizations. A wonderful cause, but what does that really mean for your Techua sweater? We asked Solid the big questions that surround the production process to give you a good and real understanding of what makes this fair sweater fair.




Before we go into detail, it might be useful to go back to the beginning. How did Solid come to life?

“Solid was created because we cannot stand injustice. Because we care. In the beginning, we selected and supported projects of non-governmental organizations in different countries and with a wide variety of themes. We worked on economic development, clean water projects, health care, education in around 20 different countries. In 2004, we decided to focus our efforts on a specific location to maximize our impact. Ayacucho is one of the most deprived areas in Peru. We developed a model in which several economic projects generate profit and contribute to the social aid projects. This allows us to double the effect of every euro invested and follow everything up by our local employees. After 10 years of successfully doing these projects in Ayacucho, we decided to expand our social profit model to India and Kenya with ‘Solid Crafts’.”


Solid Crafts is the project from which our Techua sweater originated. Can you give some more information on what this social profit model exactly is?

“In developing countries, manual craft is the second biggest sector after agriculture. Thousands of people over the world, mostly women, are actively trained in handicrafts. With Solid Crafts, we establish and guide sustainable handicraft workplaces where disadvantaged people can be employed honestly. We focus on quality materials and authentic manual work. The profits from these workplaces are, in turn, invested in social projects like assisting teenage mothers or supporting abused children.”




The Techua sweater from our partnership is knitted in Peru, what is the focus of Solid over there?

“In Peru, we are focusing on the problems of girls and teenage mothers who live in poverty. In cities and in the countryside, teenage pregnancies are still a major issue. In Peru, the risk for young girls is particularly high to end up on the street without education, without parenting skills and without a vision for their future, a problem we are determined to tackle. We have a crisis and assistance shelter for these girls that’s recognized as an official residential facility for which we work together with other official organizations and projects. Here they learn the necessary skills they need as young mothers and are encouraged to go to educate themselves.”


How did our Techua sweater come to life?

“Our products always come to life thanks to open and transparent communication between our partner and us. It’s the job of our Belgian team to build the bridge between the partner, in this case, Essentiel Antwerp, and the country of production, which was Peru for your sweaters. From the very first sample, it was clear that your Techua sweater was a fantastic challenge regarding technical skills for our knitting moms in Ayacucho. Together with them, with did everything possible to make the pattern in each sweater the same shape and feel, even though each sweater will also have its unique characteristics thanks to the person who knitted it.”




Aside from the social profits that are linked to our partnership with Solid Crafts, our Techua sweater is made from baby alpaca wool. How sustainable is baby alpaca wool actually?

“Before elaborating on sustainability, it might be necessary to explain the ‘baby alpaca fiber’ because there’s a lot of confusion around this. Baby alpaca wool is the softest alpaca wool that comes from the first annual shave. It doesn’t mean it’s from a baby alpaca, it does mean that the finest fibers are used. This wool is usually from the neck or the back because this is the cleanest and softest. Because alpaca wool is a natural fiber, its impact is a lot smaller on the environment when you compare it to synthetic or even other natural fibers like cotton. Alpacas live primarily on the Peruvian Andes at heights between 4.000 and 4.500 meters high. These are places where agriculture is impossible, which makes alpacas essential for around 150.000 Peruvian farmers. Alpacas don’t need a lot of water or food and are adjusted to the harsh climate conditions. They graze without damaging the soil or vegetation, which is different compared to the hooves of cows and sheep. On top of that, processing alpaca fibers has a lower CO2 emission than the production of synthetic fibers, and they don’t release microplastic when washed. For the fashion industry, alpaca wool is one of the most sustainable, ecological, luxurious, and exclusive fibers there is. The rare fibers are fine with a silk-like quality that reminds of soft cashmere. It’s also stronger, warmer, and lighter than sheep wool. For textile, coloring fibers remains a stumbling block. Luckily, Peru already has a lot of expertise in coloring with natural materials. Saying that alpaca wool is good for the planet is a big statement, each product has an impact. But when you look at all the benefits compared to some other synthetic fibers or some natural alternatives, alpaca wool is a great choice when it comes to sustainability.”


How are people really supporting fair fashion when they buy, wear and love our Techua sweater?

“Each Techua sweater directly helps to create a better life for the knitting mother who made the sweater and her family. As we said, the profit for sweaters from Peru like Essentiel Antwerp’s Techua sweater, go directly to the organization that gives shelter and guidance to teenage moms and girls living in poverty that have become victim of violence and abuse. With different projects, we want to strengthen the self-reliance and independence of girls in risk situations. The focus here is on prevention, guidance, and shelter. There’s one big statement that encompasses this entire philosophy: if you empower women, you empower a whole community, and we live by it.”




Shop our Techua sweater


Light blue alpaca-blend chunky-knit sweater

Orange alpaca-blend chunky-knit sweater

Camel alpaca-blend chunky-knit sweater



© Solid - Isabel Corthier

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