Consider your swimsuit styles for Santorini, Amalfi, and your next-door neighbor’s pool planned because the hottest swim of the season is making quite a splash.
Alo has teamed up with Candice Swanepoel's eco-lifestyle brand, Tropic of C, to bring you a must-have collection of elevated classics, on-trend summer colors, and a mini-capsule of handwoven beauties with an origin story to tell.
Tropic of C consistently creates visually stunning pieces designed with sustainability, quality, empowerment, and community in mind — and, as such, a collaboration with intentionality and mindfulness at the forefront made perfect sense.
As part of this collection, we're thrilled to debut three one-of-a-kind styles that spotlight a traditional art form kept alive by Indigenous female artisans throughout Northern Peru. With soft, stretchy knit made with love by women, for women, these styles empower community from the hands that weave each style to the women who confidently wear them on the beach and beyond.
A hybrid between backstrap loom and crochet weaving (for any connoisseurs out there), Andean tramado crochet has served as a venerated craft within the Northern Peru heritage through many generations.
The earliest examples of this method of weaving utilizing reeds go back 8000 years ago (for context, that’s 6,931 years before Cleopatra’s birth), and stand as a testament to the significance and value of this tighter, less bulky variant. From the highlands to the coast, textiles served as an integral part of Peru’s culture and economy as both a product for trade and a social, communal gathering for matriarchs in the Quecha and Mochica communities.
As the world grows and Western culture expands, rich artisanal traditions like this form of weaving are at risk of being left behind. Less reason to weave, less reason to gather and build community. Alo has had the pleasure of partnering with Tropic of C as we work together to provide a demand and help reinstill value in the continuation of art forms that preserve tradition and foster unity in Northern Peru.
Across 9 communities and 3 regions — Pacasmayo, Cajamarca, and Huamachuco — nearly 120 Quechua and Mochica women gather in each other's living rooms and community centers today (as they did thousands of years ago) to weave each and every crocheted garment found on the collection page.
Because this art form does not require the use of a cumbersome backstrap loom, the women of Northern Peru take their weaving just about anywhere — a freedom and flexibility that allows mothers and grandmothers to continue their domestic life caring for the next generations while earning an income.
Along with economic agency, working with Tropic of C provides these female artisan collectives with empowerment beyond employment: computer literacy classes, lessons on accounting, and assistance in opening bank accounts that further broaden their financial freedoms. Along with guidance on how to become formal organizations that give these artisans the ability to sell their work at craft fairs, this partnership between Tropic of C and the artisans they employ in Northern Peru is defined by profound care and community.
In order to meet the ever-growing demand, these women have developed critical production skills through collaboration and skill-sharing that allow for bulk production of one-of-a-kind textiles. One peek at these complicated patterns with up to 12 different vibrant hues, smooth siding on either side of the textile, and all smalls, mediums, and larges with consistent dimensions — we can barely execute the same eyeliner shape from eye to eye and these women hand-weave bikinis to absolute perfection. This system of production is truly the first of its kind.
We’re delighted to share these pieces with a higher purpose and work together to live mindfully, connect with air, land and ocean, and practice humankindness wherever we can. Shop the entire Alo x Tropic of C collection now and be sure to tag us as you take your one-of-a-kind bikini along all your summer adventures.
If you’re a history buff or simply want to replace the daily hour-long scroll on IG with a story of tradition and culture, we highly recommend reading “Woven Stories: Andean Textiles & Rituals” by Andrea M. Hickman during your poolside tan-session (don’t forget the SPF, of course!).