With the launch of our new Fall Capsule Collection, we welcomed a new artisan group to our growing global community. Our newest partners are from Ethiopia, and they are the manufactures of our neutral and natural Addis Tea Towel.
Our partners are based in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where they are known globally for their handmade textiles that are:
- Fair Trade
- Eco-friendly, and
- Ethically made
This talented group of spinners and weavers hand loom towels, table linens, scarves, and throws.
The Allure of Ethiopian Cotton
The artisans employ an art form that is inspired by ancient weaving and uses locally sourced silk and cotton. Every step of their process is done by hand, from the spinning of the threads to the weaving of the fabric. Our partners use natural materials such as Ethiopian cotton, which is prized globally for its soft and durable fiber.
Cotton production is a central part of Ethiopian life, as it has been for centuries. Traditional clothing from this region has always been made of locally cultivated cotton that is spun on drop spindles by women and woven on hand looms by men. Most men and women living in rural areas where cotton grows have the skills to process cotton fiber at home. Many families in Ethiopia grow cotton in their homes, and clean and spin it into thread for weaving their traditional clothing.
In order to weave threads into fabric, artisans must spin raw cotton into thread using a traditional drop spindle or foot-powered spinning wheel. The skill of spinning is traditionally passed down from mother to daughter. Most women in rural areas spin thread at home in order to earn extra supplemental income. Handspun cotton has a soft and textured appearance, which is beautiful and unique compared to industrially processed cotton.
The next step in our artisans’ process is the dyeing of threads that are used to weave a pattern on the towels. Our partners take environmental sustainability seriously, and as such take great care in the dyeing process to use natural and AZO free dyes. The artisans dye the threads in small batches, and have developed a water recycling and purification system to help achieve a greater level of sustainability.
After the cotton has been spun, the third and final step in the process is weaving. The art of weaving is passed down from father to son. Hand weaving is a way of life in Ethiopia, as it has been a major export and craft for many centuries. Techniques have not changed much over the years, but as with most handmade crafts, young peoples’ desire to leave villages for the bigger cities has caused the art of hand weaving to slowly disappear. Our Addis Hand Towel is a beautiful example of this ancient craft, and we are thrilled that our partners are dedicated to the preservation of Ethiopian hand weaving.
The Artisan’s Work Environment
The artisans who weave our Addis Towel are treated very well. More than half of the team weaves from their own home, which allows workers such as women to find time in their schedule to bring income to their families without the burden of leaving their neighborhoods or towns. The group ensures each worker that her craft will support the health, education, and economic stability of their families. Workers receive pensions, paid vacation, maternity leave and medical coverage, and they earn about 250% more than the industry average for the work that they do.
We are thrilled to offer our first item to you that has been made by our fantastic partners in Ethiopia!