Hanne De Wyngaert is a fashion designer (Antwerp Academy) and became known for the Ti+Hann label, of which she is a partner. For her Fair Trade design label Que Onda Vos, she spent nine months a year in Guatemala, where weaving is a large part of the culture. She designs hand-made products, such as carpets, blankets, cushions, scarves and bags of 100% local and natural origin. For the prototypes and technical implementation in the process, Hanne relies on the knowledge the Guatemalan ‘artisanos’ have of the crafts.
The ‘artisanos’ are generally poor people from indigenous communities. They have a huge tradition in, and knowledge of, wool and cotton processing, natural dyes and various weaving techniques. Hanne hopes in this way not only to provide jobs, but also to preserve and promote the age-old tradition of weaving in Guatemala. Que Onda Vos products are sold mainly for socially-responsible prices in interior and high-end concept stores, a market for, in particular, designers and design adepts.
“We learn from each other’s way of working. Obviously, I come from another culture, and by combining our knowledge we can create new things. So it’s really a dialogue and a collaboration. They sometimes apply the new ideas to the products they make for their own market. They’re free to do so. I think it’s a good thing, that they can expand their knowledge in that way, sell more, attract more customers and extend their market.”
“It’s also about preserving the age-old tradition of weaving in Guatemala. I hope that my approach will keep young people involved too. A great many young people emigrate, or move to the cities, abandoning the traditional art of weaving because they believe they’ll find more, and better-paid, work elsewhere. Those techniques, and that craftsmanship, need to be valued more. It’s a dying tradition of great quality, which will hopefully be given a new future.”