The first time I came across INTI Knitwear was during my stay in Berlin last winter. I love strolling through the city and visiting all sustainable fashion shops I can find. (I made a sustainable map from Berlin which you can read here).
That day, I was in Kreuzberg and I entered one of my favourite shops. When I shop, I always shop with my hands, even more than with my eyes. Touching the fabrics and feeling it, makes me decide if I like something and if I will wear it. The first time I’ve touched an INTI sweater I was shook! I’ve never touched something so soft, so I decided to try it on. When I had it on, it was as if I was laying in clouds, as if I was being cuddled by the sweater. It was the softest sweater I’ve ever tried.
So I took a deep dive into the brand and interviewed them for this article. INTI is a slow fashion brand with a focus on women’s upper-wear.
Let me introduce you to INTI!
What does INTI Knitwear stand for?
INTI is a Dutch brand that works together with Native American women from the Andes mountains in South America. Every product is handmade from organic and natural materials. INTI mainly uses baby alpaca. Baby alpaca wool is super soft and warm, so all the items feel like warm clouds. INTI organises their own production process and do not dependent on external parties. So they are responsible for the weaving, crocheting, and knitting. Therefore they’re able to guarantee fair and ethical practices throughout the whole process. Inti’s style is feminine, dreamy and modern. Besides that, every item is very versatile and can be dressed up or down. Because of their versatility, luxurious fabrics and fair production, INTI is slightly more expensive. But more importantly they produce true investment pieces.
The reason Anna and Leon started INTI Knitwear
Anna and Leon founded INTI Knitwear 27 years ago. The two friends were looking for a travel destination and randomly picked it from a travel guide. They knew for sure that they didn’t want to go to Bali or India, as a lot of Dutch people were already traveling there. They rather wanted a unique experience. The destination they picked was Ecuador. Without any information or background, they packed their backpacks and left. The two traveled through Ecuador in 1993, where they came across traditional weaving and knitting factories in a little village in Ecuador.
Until today, Anna and Leon, are still in contact with the same people from the village as they visited back then. At first they bought everything they liked: clothes, hammocks, shawls and so on. Although the business was going great, they realised sweaters were selling much better than anything else. Since then, INTI decided to only sell women’s upper-wear.
What about sustainability and ethics?
For INTI sustainability is something they’ve always naturally incorporated. Whereas ‘sustainability’ suddenly became a huge trend in the 00s, this was already part of their business. For INTI sustainability wasn’t something they used as a marketing tool. It was just their normal way of production, living and working. For Anna and Leon sustainability always has been the obvious and natural thing to do.
INTI is based in Otavalo, where head-knitters come to visit. There they then see the new models and materials, collect them and bring them to their colleagues. The total team of INTI knitters consists of more than 600 women, who are living all over the Andes mountains. And they all work passionately on producing the best quality products. Needless to say, by only inviting the head-knitters to the office, they’re able to reduce traffic and transport.
Besides that, a huge part of the materials is from an organic origin. Even the buttons are pure and natural. Additionally, the knitting and weaving processes don’t require many machines, nor cause pollution or trash. Every leftover material, will be transformed into a product.
What about the materials in the collections?
So let’s talk a little about the materials. As I mentioned before, INTI mainly uses baby alpaca wool. This material is beyond beautiful, extremely comfortable to wear and very light. Alpaca wool is breathable and regulates your body temperature. Besides that, it’s hypoallergenic, so it’s suitable for many people. The wool doesn’t consist lanolin, which also makes the production process easy and environmentally friendly.
When INTI first started their brand, they also used Merino wool. However, they came to realise many people prefer Alpaca wool over Merino. Since then they’ve fully specialised in baby alpaca.
Due to the super soft nature of baby alpaca wool, it is necessary to mix it with a tiny amount of acrylic and nylon. This causes a better structure and more strength in the threads. This guarantees better wearability and longevity of the products.
Anna’s message to consume more ethically
First of all, we have to ask ourselves if we really need to buy something. Do you need this or do you just want this? How many times are you going to wear it? What material is it made of? Secondly it’s really important to focus on natural materials, as this is so much lighter and comfortable to wear. It’s not a burden to your body, which synthetics are. And thirdly you have to remember, that the cheaper a product is, the more harm and pain it causes in the makers, as well as in animals and Mother Earth. Don’t buy to wear it once, buy it to wear forever. And if they do need a replacement, recycle or upcycle your items then. The INTI sweaters are very suitable to transform into pillows and other interior goods.
After reading this article, I’m sure you’d like to check out one of the INTI sweaters yourself. INTI only sells their items in store, so follow the link below to find one close to you.