Weaving Stories at the End of the World

Weaving Stories at the End of the World

With wool from Tierra del Fuego, this entrepreneur rescues the value of “handmade” garments in this southern area.

In a former house of the beginning of the century, in front of the military regiment of Porvenir (capital of the province of Tierra del Fuego), there is a social innovation entrepreneurship, the Karukinka outdoor clothing workshop, whose owner is Felipe Jadue, who has a bachelor degree in business administration.

On the phone from the island he comments on his undertaking of hand-woven hybrid sweaters with noble wool from the area, which has the support of Chilean government´s entities CORFO and ProChile. “We want to be a catalyst for progress. We are applying environmental and social actions; We work to become a reference for outdoor clothing in Chile and the world, ”he says.

Jadue says that despite the wind and the cold of the island, it is impressive that the workshop always has a warm atmosphere. “Here the weavers come together to work, chat and drink mate. Here, magically a bundle of dirty sheep wool is transformed into an exportable luxury garment”, he says.

With five children (9 months to 15 years), this entrepreneur travels every month to Tierra del Fuego. In 2015, Michael Bianchi, a business friend from Porvenir invited him to tour the island. “It was a wonderful trip and while visiting his sheep farm it came up to me the idea of crafting outdoor clothing using noble knittings,” he recalls.

In this workshop, where ninety percent are women, 17 local workers (between 20 and 70 years old), all with limited resources or social risk. "Each weaver has its history that is embodied in each garment whose manufacturing time is about four days," he says.

Felipe comments that one of them is spinning freshly sheared dirty wool, while another weaves and cuts fabrics. "They are garments that have mostly gone through hands, not machines, and that is their most significant value," he explains.

Likewise, fifty percent of the composition of these garments (since March they will be marketed on the website) corresponds to fabrics made one hundred percent with animal hair and natural fiber; They are also hand dyed with vegetable inks. "Also the leather of our labels, like other applications, are suprarecycled supplies," he says.

- Why undertake in the confines of the planet?

"Here I feel as if I had always belonged to this place". I trust your people; I believe in their potentials. Despite its hostile climate, the beauty of its landscapes is overwhelming. It is a place that feeds my creative spirit; In addition, the historical burden of this area is so powerful that it helps me get even more inspired. Tierra del Fuego is an outdoor reference, one of the most emblematic areas of Patagonia.

Redefine luxury

Felipe recalls that as a child he played in the wineries of the Incazar shirt factory, which was one of the largest in Chile and that his maternal grandfather, Fuad Zaror, founded San Diego Street in the 50s. “I was captivated to be among fabrics and machinery; I learned that it was an innovative industry by nature, where new products were always created, ”he says.

And as “the blood was stronger” for five years (2007 to 2012) she worked in this factory that in the 1990s became an importer. Soon after, Jadue sold the Chilean outdoor clothing brand Kilimanjaro (imported from Asia) that it sold in 2017.

— With this venture in Tierra del Fuego, you created an ethical management model, where a business seeks more than economic profitability.

That's right, what really matters is the value that a company generates for society. Generally, this form of management is inserted within the framework of what is called “triple bottom line” where companies measure and evaluate their results not only from a financial point of view, but also by their social and environmental impact.

— Diana Verde Nieto, Argentine founder of the Positive Luxury company, says that social responsibility and sustainability today are mandatory for luxury brands.

— For some time already, there has been a sustained global appreciation of natural fibers applied to fashion and the recovery of responsible companies. With this venture we want to redefine luxury where that attribute in the garments is given by its traceability and the history after its manufacture; We intend to reach users of high social and environmental awareness; That is our main aspiration.

— Claudia Hurtado, executive director of Fundación Artesanías Chile, told “La Segunda” in 2018 that Chileans often associate “what has been done in Chile” with “rustic products and bad manufacturing”.

Consumers want stories and the value of the product is related to the environment. With initiatives that rescue noble materials from