ARTISANAL SILK FROM SOUTHERN COLOMBIA

JUNGLE FOLK

Finally, summer ishere! In our summer collection you find beautiful light dresses, shirts, capes and pullovers made of silk. The natural lightness of silk makes it the perfect material for a hot summer day. Where does the silk we use come from?

The silk is produced in a cooperative named CORSEDA located in Popayán, in the south of Colombia. 

This cooperative was founded as an alternative for the farmers to cultivating coca plants. The cooperative, consisting of 200 families, produces organic silk. This involves the breeding of the silkworms, the cultivation of the mulberry plantation and the treatment of the cocoon to the silk. The mulberry leaves are not treated with chemical pesticides nor is the raw silk cleaned or softened with chemical substances therefore, the silk is all organic. 

JUNGLE FOLK

Silk is the end result of a long process. First the mulberry leaves have to be cultured. The only plant silkworms eat is the mulberry plant. The cultivator has to take care that the eclosed silkworms are always covered with mulberry leaves so they have enough food to grow. 

The development of the cocoon happens after 25 days, in which the silk worms are always eating and sleeping 3 days alternately. After the silkworm has grown 10’000 times bigger it begins to spin its cocoon. 

JUNGLE FOLK

To gain raw silk the cultivators have to gather the cocoons, dry t, cook and grade them and in the end cook the cocoons to gain the silk fibers. 

The next step is to wash the silk fibers with water mixed with soap or oil to soften the sericin. Sericin is the protein that keeps the different fibers together like natural glue. The women have to take eight to ten fibers to get only one silk thread. The different fibers form in the end one long silk thread.

JUNGLE FOLK

To achieve the typical softness of silk the silk has to be washed in warm water to degumming it. Then the silk is dried.

The silk has then to be spun into threads,this is a very difficult process since the aim is, that the thread has always the same thickness. 

The threads are then dyed, in the cooperative CORSEDA the dying is all made with "low impact colours", we dye small quantities in bowls of hot water.

You see, that the production process of silk is a very long and intensive one. The silk from Popayan we are using is very special since all steps are all handmade. The cooperative has to fight with many difficulties like climate change which sometimes destroys the cultivated mulberry bushes to extreme weather conditions in which the silkworms don't survive and the cooperative can therefore not produce silk. Also there are many diseases which can be a danger for the little silkworms. Also the (now very small) Colombian silk industry suffers from the concurrence of cheap, industrially made silk from Asia. There are actually now only two cooperatives producing silk in Colombia. We try to support this cooperative as much as we can and designed many beautiful items made out of CORSEDA silk in our spring/summer collection.

The silk was knitted into beautiful dresses, capes and shirts. We also wove the threat on big old looms into fabrics for jackets and dresses.

Organic silk in contrast to normal silk is not treated with any chemical substances. You will feel the difference, feeling this wonderful material on your skin!