We respect people, value diversity and are committed to equality. We value and recognise the contribution of the artisans, their craft, culture and communities. We strive for excellence through continuous transparency and improvement. Pippa Holt operates from a position of deep respect for Mexican culture, linking her customers to the stories and culture of the weavers. We showcase the weaver's work to the world with a link between fashion and hand made craft.
Slow fashion is a buzz phrase and this is slow textile production in its truest sense - no factories or production lines, no fleeting trends or built-in obsolescence. The weavers take their time, working on these pieces at their own pace in their homes, between other tasks - parenting, farming, other work. Weaving is part of the detailed fabric of village life, as it always has been.
Each Pippa Holt Kaftan (huipil) takes between three weeks and one month to weave. There are many factors that affect our timelines, from the obvious - size, design complexity - to those you might not have thought about. The weather plays a part, as does the calendar, for example whether there’s a festival or holiday. (So now you know why we have a wait list!)
Then there’s the preparation time. Gathering the plants for the natural dyes, collecting the firewood to boil the dyes, hand-spinning yarn. Many dye plants are seasonal and can only be found during certain months. Each step of the process has its own rhythm, and every garment is unique.
That’s why we number our designs and share the weaver’s name with you. We want to connect the wearer with the artisan, and to emphasise the precious, heirloom nature of these garments. A Pippa Holt garment exists outside of trends, and links the wearer to the story and culture of the woman who wove it. We operate from a position of deep respect for Mexican culture. We are cultural appreciators, not appropriators. We don’t dictate; we co-create.
Our limited edition jumpsuits, shorts and hats offer a good example. We bring design innovation with new styles, which adds value, meaning more money for the makers. But we never mess with the motifs and meanings deeply embedded in the story of this cloth. It’s up the weavers where they take their creativity. Click here to read more about the weaving.
Our relationship with the weavers is a partnership built on trust and mutual benefit. Our production manager is a local; she is also a textiles researcher who is passionate about her country’s rich history of fashion techniques and traditions. Respecting the cultural integrity of these crafts is at the core of our business.
The process of traditional huipil weaving has evolved over hundreds, even thousands of years. The technique in Oaxaca, where we work, is thought to have existed since 1500BC. Working together with the weavers, we create a cultural exchange as dialogue through fashion. The weavers bring the magic, skill and knowledge; we bring economic opportunity, new markets for their designs, and new routes to share their stories far and wide.
The weavers work from their homes, allowing them flexibility, autonomy and the ability to stay in their villages and raise their families while building prosperity. According to Nest, “Artisan leaders often view themselves as social leaders committed to using their businesses as a means to empower women, alleviate poverty, and preserve cultural traditions in their communities.”
One of the main challenges of home-based work is insufficient or irregular orders. According to Ethical Trade, “Very few homeworkers have enough work to occupy them on a full-time basis and most are constantly hoping for more work.” We make consistent orders and pay fairly, helping build prosperity in the villages where the artisans work. We have been working with the same weaving communities for four years, since Pippa first started this venture back in 2016. What we hear the most from the weavers is that this reliable, fair work makes a difference. Click here to meet the makers.
KAFTAN OR HUIPIL
We chose to use kaftan in our brand name to express our international approach and our love for fashion. Kaftan can be different things to different people. For us, it evokes a holiday mood. The word appears over the centuries in many different forms for many different occasions and uses, worn by men and women, across the world. Styles, uses, and names for the kaftan vary from culture to culture. Pippa Holt Kaftans conveys the practical qualities of our collections: light-weight, holiday-friendly, beautiful to wear in the heat.
The correct name, the one accepted by scholars, for the Mexican woven versions we work with is “huipil”. Huipil is a beautiful word, with an important heritage, but it is not universally used. Where we work, the elder women call them “batas” which roughly translates as gowns, or in the case of the short ones "blusón", which means big blouse. Sometimes the weavers say “xicun”, which is technically a shawl. It is unusual to hear the word huipil used conversationally here where the regional Mixtec language is spoken.
Artisan Aurelia and her weavers
We are always thinking how we can ensure our product is as sustainable and ethical as possible, from the use of natural dyes to the inherently sustainable zero waste weaving process to our artisan partnerships.
We are proud to be part of Net-A-Porter’s curated platform Net Sustain, and the Farfetch Positively Conscious selection. Pippa Holt Kaftans has been rated “Good” by Good On You, earning 4 out of 5 in all three ratings categories (people, planet and animals). See the rating here.
Artisan Monica and her weavers
We operate from a position of deep respect for Mexican culture, linking our customers to the stories and culture of the weavers. The brand is based on long standing relationships, fair payment and trust. We are always transparent about who makes and designs our product. We work with the artisans, we invest in them, we celebrate their artistry and always give credit. We produce in artisan communities. Pippa does not call herself a designer. The artisans decide what they weave. We also number each design, and share the names and faces of the weavers behind them. We always #givecredit.
PAYMENT & BUSINESS
The brand is based on co-creation, fair payment and trust. Pippa Holt has helped build prosperity in the community with sustainable, repeat business. The founder takes no salary and reinvests profits back in to the business and community. We are part of a community, and have worked with the same group of artisan weavers for the past four to five years. We pay fairly and on time. We pay above market price for this kind of hand-work, never haggle, bring repeat business and do not seek bulk discounts. The artisans know the end price of their garments once they get to market and understand the costs involved to get the product to the international market. This is discussed with Pippa and the artisans on her annual visits and regular FaceTime meetings between Pippa and the weavers.
WHERE OUR BUSINESS COSTS GO
* The founder takes no salary and reinvests profits back into the business
- Cost of product (above market price)
- Rent of Mexico office and European head office
- Staff; one full time employee in Mexico and two in Europe
- Office supplies (printing etc)
- Import tax and duties of goods
- Marketing costs (including graphic designers, photography, email builders and systems etc)
- Travel (to Mexico and to meet retailers)
- Retailer mark up
PHK has helped build prosperity in the community with sustainable, repeat business, which the artisans rely on. The orders are their livelihood. The artisans know the end price of their garments once they get to market and understand the costs involved to get the product to the international market. This is discussed with Pippa and the artisans on her annual visits and regular FaceTime meetings between Pippa, the Production Manager based in Mexico and the weavers.
THE ARTISANS AND THE INTERNATIONAL STAGE
The artisans are across the process from the incubation of the product to knowing which retailer will stock it. This is exciting for them. They love seeing the end results online and worn by our customers around the world. They work towards showing the buyers the collections twice a year for showings during fashion weeks. This is something they are proud of. The weavers are smart women. They know the price they want, and ask for it. It is a business for them. They are fully aware that the retail price in an international store will be marked up to cover not just wholesale but the cost of running the business.