Get to know the Quechua artisans and Zapateros behind Qhipas’ colorful, handcrafted footwear.
Armando is our lead technical designer and head of production, and is based in Ambato, Ecuador. He is an expert in the Strobel construction system, which Qhipas utilizes for all its sneakers.
After setting up and managing large shoe factories in Italy, Brazil, Argentina, and Peru for the last 12 years, Armando is pleased to be back where it all began for him in Ecuador.
"I've grown up in and loved the Zapatero culture here in Ecuador. Handcrafting shoes is so much slower and much more detail oriented than using sophisticated machines and computers... and I love it!
Speaking for the Zapateros, we feel connected to the shoes we make by hand, and we love that the wool fabric we use is also created by master artisans and that our Company seeks to support them."
The indigenous people who hand-loom our wool fabrics speak Quechua, and consider themselves to be descended from the Inca.
We work with a group of villages located high in the Andes mountains of Peru.
The artisans pasture their own sheep and alpaca, sheer them by hand, spin yarn and naturally dye it, and then hand-loom fabrics with more than 1,000 years of history and legacy. Each weaver uses their own 400-year-old backstrap loom, and can weave about five meters of fabric per day.
These amazing wool fabrics are produced traditionally, sustainably and organically without the use of any refinement or treatment chemicals.
The artisan's social lives, culture, history, and spirituality are all colored by weaving, and they have an incredible reverence for it.
The weavers are thrilled to see their work incorporated into shoes made by an internationally focused company, and light up at seeing Qhipas on people's feet around the world.
When you wear your Qhipas, you support these and many more talented artisans and Zapateros in both Peru and Ecuador.
Our social mission is to help strengthen and preserve the awe-inspiring legacy of language, skills, and culture of our Quechua-speaking artisanal partners from Peru.
We do this by buying their fabrics at a price that supports the weavers, their communities, and the work of the non-profit they formed.
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.
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To help sustain the culture, communities, and traditions of our artisanal partners by sharing with them part of the net profits they co-create.