Mayra Navarrete, Founder and CEO of Imarit, reveals how she brought artisanal handwork from Peru to contemporary fashion in Denmark – a much needed inspiration to a more sustainable fashion industry.
“I believe that to find success it is essential to have expertise, passion, and a sense of opportunity. These three elements are central to Imarit as a brand, which is why the future looks truly promising” – Mayra Navarrete.
Building an idea in products
Mayra moved to Denmark in 2014 after living in India for several years. Being used to warmer climates, she was suddenly and painfully aware of the need to dress with low temperatures in mind.
She remembers visiting many shops in Copenhagen, where she lives, and finding tons of garmets made of cashmere (or Kashmir) from goats. This Peplexed me! Prior to 2001, cashmere was considered a luxury, but has grown cheaper over the last seventeen years. Today, anyone can buy a 100% cashmere pulover for less than DKK 600, and you can easily find sweaters made of cashmere blended with different fibers sold for less than DKK 70. The quality of cashmere has declined sharply to accommodate the demand for items in this price range. After a few washes, the cheap cashmere sweaters look awful and end up in the trash can.
It is a sad story. Keeping the price of cashmere low necessitates larger and larger goat herds that over-graze and destroy the ecosystem. Both the grasslands in China and in Mongolia are turning into deserts that can barely support the hungry goats.
Approximately 90% of the land in Mongolia, the second largest provider of the world’s cashmere behind China, is at risk due to over-grazing.
She challenged herself to try and imagine new solutions to the dilemma for people who wish to dress warm for the cold Scandinavian weather, who wish to look elegant at every occasion but also wish to avoid the textile waste and environmental impact of the cheap industry surrounding cashmere and wool. That’s how she started imagining Imarit.
This sweater is an example of the products, which can be bought on https://imarit.com/
First of all, she asked herself: what if she looked into the opportunities in Latin America, where alpacas largely live in highlands of the Peruvian Andes, where they graze without destroying eco and root systems?
She discovered that despite fluctuating demand for their fiber, the alpaca population remains relatively steady in this region. In fact, the one concern in countries like Peru and Bolivia is that herds will decline as the current generation of alpaca herders and breeders ages and their children are more interested in finding work in the cities than continuing the work of their parents. Peru has even created special breeding spots and educational centers to help sustain the alpaca population.
She also found out that alpacas are much more efficient than goats. An alpaca drinks less water than a goat and can grow enough wool to knit four or five garments in a year. Specific sections of an alpaca produce prime fibers, so a garment made from “super baby” alpaca can rival high-quality cashmere in terms of softness, and outdo it when it comes to strength.
Furthermore, alpaca fibers commonly measure between eight and twelve centimeters, so they are far less likely to pill, and they last much longer. Unlike cheap cashmere or cheap wool, alpaca feels warm and lush when you wear it.
Secondly she asked herself: what if, in a world where fashion consumers generate million tons of textile waste each year, she starts making durable garments for people who care deeply about the planet and think it is better to own a single, great, handmade alpaca sweater than a pile of cheap, easily replaceable cashmere ones?
Answering these questions informed the development of Imarit as a brand. Imarit is her contribution to help transform the way garments made of alpaca are designed, sold and used. Imarit’s basic line offers the fashion consumer the possibility to break free from their disposable mindset, by owning pieces that are warm, last longer and look great. These characteristics also ensure the ultimate luxury for our customers
Imarit alpaca is made by artisans from rural regions in Peru. More information can be found in https://imarit.com/.
Measuring Customer Response
Only a very select group of people wear and recognize that the best alpaca garments in the world are still knitted in Peru. It is the softness and natural sheen of alpaca fiber that make every garment look and feel elegant, but it is also the ancient confection techniques used by Peruvian artisans that makes each item so exclusive and precious.
Thus, at a very early stage in Imarit’s brand development process, she used focus groups to test minimum viable products (MVPs) of its first line (ponchos, capes, sweaters, pullovers, dresses and coats), made of 100% baby alpaca knitted by artisans in Peru. The responses from the focus groups confirmed that neither shop owners nor consumers have significant knowledge of the quality of alpaca fiber or the environmental damages of the cheap fashion industry around cashmere and wool.
Listening to women who participated in the focus groups, Mayra learned that many people buy cheap cashmere garments due to the the low price, because of quick impulsive decisions, and because they are constantly changing their minds about what to wear. Many people do not think about sustainable clothing, mostly because of lack of knowledge or awareness.
It became clear to her that buying a handmade, soft and silky alpaca garment for more than DKK 1000 seems a little too expensive, despite explaining that your production cycle ensures that every person who knits the garments is treated with respect, with fair wages and fair working conditions. That is why Marya has been sharing third party content (e.g. articles and videos) on social media that celebrate and discuss sustainable fashion. Imarit’s website reflects this as well.
Imarit’s value proposition to its customers is clear: let’s repurpose textile waste together, let’s drop cheap cashmere fashion and let’s purchase, own and care for soft, silky, knitted essential alpaca garments which will last us a lifetime.
Mayra Navarrete is the author of this post. Plura Consulting has been given permission to share its content. The original source can be found at:
Imarit Concept Store is located at Store Kongensgade 74,
1264 Copenhagen, Denmark.