Frequently Asked Questions

From sizing and shipping to how Qhipas are made, here are the answers to our most commonly asked questions.

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Shopping & Sizing

Ecuador, and therefore Qhipas, utilizes the European shoe-sizing system. Before shopping for Qhipas, we recommend following these four simple steps to ensure the best fit:  

  1. Place your heel against a wall, put your weight on your foot, and then measure its length with a ruler or tape measure.
  2. Use our chart to find your size.
  3. Check both feet in case one is larger than the other.
  4. Finally, if you are under 20 years old, pick a size larger as your feet are likely still growing!

 

See our sizing chart, here.

In terms of models, we have more than a dozen in development, from slippers to polar boots. Our Zapateros (shoemakers) have decades of experience in factories and occasionally make new models or add features on the fly.

Our intention, however, is to keep it simple for the upcoming launch with low- and high-top sneakers, as well as slip-ons.

Follow us on Instagram to hear about new styles and the latest arrivals!

As far as the colors of the hand-woven and naturally dyed wool fabric, those change with the seasons as all dye ingredients are locally sourced. Dyes are derived from flowers, fruits, minerals, insects, etc.

Yes! Our recommendation is to use an appropriate sole insert in the shoes to make them fit well. We recommend a thin, flat pad for a wide foot and an arched or thicker pad for a narrow foot.

Additionally, consider moving up a size if your feet are wide.

We are developing a range of styles and sizes for kids. Follow us on Instagram to hear when we add new styles for kids!

Possibly, but we don’t want to promise you that they will. The rolls of fabric we purchase from our artisanal partners vary in color and weave style due to the seasonality of the natural dye ingredients.  

Our current max capacity is a few thousand pairs of Qhipas made per month, as the wool fabric we use is slowly and diligently hand-loomed.

We recommend checking the shop frequently to see what’s available in your size. Every pair is unique, and they can go in a minute! Wait until you find a pair you love and then snatch them up before someone else does!

Our indigenous Quechua artisans draw from more than a thousand years of artisanal legacy.  Techniques and weave patterns are handed down from generation to generation.

Our designers find inspiration from around the world. They expertly blend the best materials (least toxic, most sustainable, most natural) available with the latest shoe styles.

The results are utterly unique, one-of-a-kind, expertly crafted shoes that can never be replicated and are sure to become your wardrobe staple.

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Shipping & Delivery

We produce Qhipas in our factory near Ambato, Ecuador and then bulk ship them to our warehouse in Austin, Texas. Each pair is then photographed and individually listed for sale on our online shop. Once purchased, a pair is packaged and mailed via a trackable parcel delivery service from the warehouse to the customer.

Customers should generally receive their Qhipas within 3 to 14 days.

The first $15 of shipping costs for each pair is covered in the price, which means:

  • Free shipping anywhere in the US.  
  • Shipping to Canada is $10 extra per pair.
  • Anywhere else in the world (that we are legally allowed to ship to) is $20 extra per pair.

Please note that you may be 100% responsible for VAT, duties, fees, customs, and taxes applicable to your region and/or country. 

Generally, within one week, but it all depends on the migratory paths of our delivery storks. You can check the status of your package in your order confirmation email, which includes your tracking number and estimated arrival time. If you are concerned about the status of your package, please email us at team@qhipas.com.

In rare cases, the delivery might be delayed due to factors beyond our control like natural disasters, stuck in Customs, undeliverable addresses, etc..

We will notify you by email when your order has shipped. In the email, we will include both a tracking number and an estimated arrival time.
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Exchanges

Didn't get the pair you wanted? You can exchange your Qhipas for a different size or style.  You will only have to cover the cost of shipping them back to Austin, Texas, and we will take care of the fees associated in sending you a different pair.  When your shoes are delivered, you have 15 days to request an exchange.

Please email team@qhipas.com to initiate an exchange. Once we receive the pair into our warehouse, we will issue your account a full credit (excluding return shipping) and email you to let you know that you can choose a different pair from the online shop.

We cannot be responsible for lost or damaged return goods, thus we highly recommend that you use a reliable courier that offers shipment tracking and insurance when you return your shoes.

If you measured your foot using our sizing guidelines and received a pair that is too small, something went incredibly wrong! If the pair that arrived is slightly too large, we suggest trying a thicker insole. If we sent you the wrong pair, whoops! We sincerely apologize for that and will fix it.

We do our best to represent colors accurately on our website, however, there may be some variation depending on dye lots, our camera and your computer monitor.

If you followed the sizing guidelines but your Qhipas still don’t fit, please email team@qhipas.com.
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Mission

Qhipas are handcrafted by skilled Ecuadorian Zapateros one pair at a time, utilizing the Strobel construction system.  Each pair is made with a hand-loomed and naturally dyed wool fabric crafted by indigenous Quechua-speaking artisans. These artisans are a part of a cottage industry ecosystem whose history and legacy extends back more than 1,000 years.

Qhipas are made in our factory located near Ambato, Ecuador.

Yes!  We have chosen our materials very carefully to ensure they are produced in ecologically sustainable ways by small family-owned producers.  Least waste, least toxic, most natural, and highest possible quality no matter the cost.

Our Zapateros receive more than TWICE the local wage (as they are the best of the best), plus benefits and profit-share.

We also buy our wool fabrics for TWICE the local market price and share 10% of Qhipas net profits towards strengthening the communities and preserving the cultural legacy of our artisanal partners.

The idea is to make their traditional livelihood economically viable enough to attract the next generation of kids into doing the same and providing the means for those kids to learn their own language, history, culture and traditions within their own communities.  

Our first project will be to construct an elementary school in the Quechua community (their biggest need), and fund a food service for the children and teachers.

The Quechua say (uniquely in the world) that you can see the past, so it lies in front of you.  And you can't see the future, so it lies behind you.  
 
The word "qhipa" means "going forward by looking backward."  
 
We added the s to the end, just because.
 
"Qhipas" speaks to our social mission of helping to strengthen and preserve their awe-inspiring legacy of language, skills, and culture.
 
We do this by buying their hand-loomed wool fabrics at TWICE the local market price, and by donating 10% of the net profits that they help to co-create towards building elementary schools in their communities.  
 
The idea is to make their traditional livelihood economically viable enough to attract the next generation of kids into doing the same and providing the means for those kids to learn their own language, history, culture and traditions within their own communities.  
 

  

The preservation of our artisanal partners’ cultural heritage, skills, traditions, and language is essential. When you purchase Qhipas, you help to perpetuate the legacy of these traditional artisanal ecosystems and the Quechua way of life. And when you wear them, you bring awareness to a movement and an ethical socio-economic business model that truly makes a difference.

You can learn more about our model by visiting this page.

Our Zapateros receive TWICE the local Zap wage in addition to benefits and profit-share.

The Quechua-speaking artisans who weave the colorful wool fabric our Zapateros use to make Qhipas receive TWICE the local price for the fabrics up-front.  Additionally, we share 10% of the net profits that they help to co-create towards building elementary schools in their communities.  

You can meet some of our makers by visiting this page.

We have very meticulously chosen our materials based on the following principles:

  1. All of the components of the shoes are locally sourced in either Ecuador or Peru, with the exception of the highly breathable technical interlining made in Italy that is thermally bonded with the wool fabric to give it structure and increase its durability.  

  2. Our materials are the highest possible quality available, no matter the cost.

  3. We chose materials made by small family producers that practice ecologically sound production techniques:  least waste, least toxic, and most natural.  
  4. All of our materials are made in facilities that treat their workers like people (not numbers).  We have visited every facility that makes materials we use in constructing Qhipas footwear and have spoken with both management and workers to insure everyone is treated humanely. 

  5. Our wool fabrics are made sustainably and are colored with plant dyes using ancient recipies.

Our focus is not fast fashion, mass production, or inhumane treatment of people.   Happy people and happy animals make for happy shoes!

Yes!  Qhipas are amongst the highest quality handcrafted shoes you can buy anywhere.  

We utilize the Strobel construction process, which is considered to be the preferred method for constructing athletic and comfort shoes.  International brands like Nike and Adidas use Strobel.

Only three factories in all of Ecuador are capable of utilizing the Strobel construction process, and we are one of them!

When you buy a pair of Qhipas, you are directly supporting hundreds of families of artisans and multiple cottage industry-sized ecosystems, including:

  1. The indigenous Quechua communities in Peru that raise sheep, shear them by hand, spin and dye the yarn, and weave our fabrics using 400-year-old back-strap looms.
  2. The Zapateros of Ecuador, who are master level artisans. Our Zapateros have handcrafted shoes their entire lives — amazing!
  3. Small family-owned leather producers who meticulously craft in small batches.  
  4. Family-owned sole producers who make our custom rubber cup soles from 50% sustainable rubber, and 50% recycled rubber.

Our social mission is to help strengthen the communities and preserve the awe-inspiring legacy of language, skills, and culture of our artisanal partners. We're dedicating 10% of our net profits towards building elementary schools in their communities that will teach in their own language.   

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Payment & Security

We take privacy very seriously. We will never sell your information or email address to anybody.

Please see our Privacy Policy here on our website.

Your payment is processed on a secure, PCI-compliant server through Shopify.com, where the Qhipas online shop is hosted.

Learn more about Shopify’s security standards, here.

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Care & Cleaning

The wool fabric and natural dyes on your Qhipas are surprisingly durable and color-fast. However, we don’t recommend brushing the wool fabric. Warm soap and water should suffice. The soles and leather can be cleaned with products appropriate for that purpose.

They can also be treated with protective products such as RepelWell or Scotchgard to keep them looking newer for longer, although this will negatively affect their breathability.

We have thrown dirty pairs of Qhipas into laundry machines on gentle cycles with great results, but don't officially recommend doing this...  Never put your Qhipas into the dryer!  Let them dry naturally.

Your Qhipas should last as long as most other sneakers or boots. However, that will depend on how “roughly” you wear them and where you take them. While durable, Qhipas are intended for casual wear and are not designed to be athletic shoes.

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