Eco-Friendly Yet Fashionable Knitwear from Peru


Among the deluge of PR dumped into my email inbox daily, one item caught my interest. It was from a Peruvian knitwear firm, Hortensia’s Luxurious Knit Accessories. It is a tiny company, started five years ago by the mother/daughter team of Elizabeth Tola and Michelle Peglau Tola, initially with only three other knitters.

Since then, Hortensia has grown into a medium sized cooperative community of knitters that work from their homes and provide a stable income for their families. The company is very proud of what they have achieved; it allows these women to earn a good income while staying at home.

Elizabeth Tola was a well-known designer in Lima’s fashion scene of the 80’s. Her daughter Michelle studied fashion design. While in school, she entered a young designers contest sponsored by Air France, winning the first prize with a dress inspired by Andean traditional costumes. Later she came to New York to study fashion marketing at Tim Gunn’s old stomping grounds, Parsons School of Design.

Inspired by Peglau’s great aunt, Hortensia, an avid knitter raised in France and Peru, Elizabeth and Michelle decided to create a luxury knitwear line that would show the rest of the world the unique designs that Peru has to offer.

The line fuses traditional Peruvian weaving, the warmth of alpaca and European flair. The alpaca is dyed using non-toxic materials. Each piece is entirely handmade by skilled knitters for whom knitting has been a livelihood for generations.

As Michelle Peglau Tola wrote to me, “From the mountain ranges of Peru, Hortensia is designed for active, stylish urbanites and knitwear lovers everywhere.”

Your faithful correspondent loves to blend fashion and activism, and the fact that one can do good simply by buying something. So much less labor-intensive than other forms of activism and yet so rewarding, don’t you think?

Find their beautiful designs at:

Asymmetrical sweater wraps in lush earth tones and deep jewel hues, eyelet sweater dresses in delicate combinations and intricately knit hats are pure glamour. Sold at high-end boutiques and department stores, such as Oak and Henri Bendel, their line of hats, scarves and sweaters are a perfect choice for the holiday season.

Elisa & Bucky The Wonderdog