In 2015, born and raised New Yorker Lucho Bolivar opened a Williamsburg, Brooklyn store to house his brand of high-quality Peruvian knitwear—from sweaters and caps to pants and blankets—known as Bolivares Imports & Co. This past summer, Bolivar teamed up with creative agency TheGoodLife! for a Peruvian excursion aimed at exploring the culture of craftsmanship of the nation. The resulting photographs and vignette videos, created by Tim Brodhagen, Craig Wetherby and filmmaker Carlos Baptista, capture the essence of the ever-developing nation through the hands and faces of the people working in knitwear—and the colors and patterns surrounding them. All of the photographs are now on display at an in-store show entitled “Hecho en Peru.” These aren’t heavily branded pieces of promotional content, they’re documents attesting to the lives of many Peruvians.
As for why he had an adventure in Peru with a team of creatives, Bolivar explains to CH, “It’s because of all of the things I’ve seen in Latin America in general, acting as an inspiration, whether it is textiles or the people. It’s just a vibrant culture of textures, from the food to the surroundings.” In recognizing that the country inspired his designs (and production practices), he sought to share it with the rest of the world.
“We explore these factories nestled into the mountains a few hours outside of the city of Lima,” he says, of the videos. “There’s one factory here that was started by a Swiss woman who left Europe during WWII and made her way across the mountains in Peru. She started a factory making alpaca and llama wool. When she died without any heirs, she left the business to her staff and they’ve run it for 30 years.” This cooperative facility, and many others, plus the streets between, all come to life in the films and photographs.
Regarding the eponymous items in the store itself, Bolivar has taken the fabrication behind Peruvian sweaters—a product most are familiar with, especially if one travels to the nation—and blended it with contemporary styling. “I am ultimately designing things from a textile perspective, as well,” he notes. “I design the fabric, building yarns and then playing with them as we go to knits and weaves.” Comfort is key here, as is the notion of designing for the traveler. Altogether, however, the clothing is influenced by and produced in Peru—and now that inspiration is also on display.
Visit Bolivares Imports & Co at 226 Grand Street in Brooklyn, NY 11211. The current exhibition runs from 11 November 2015 (with an open to the public opening night event from 6PM to 9PM) through the end of December 2015.
Video courtesy of Carlos Baptista, images courtesy of Craig Wetherby