Founder of WEHVE, Gesine Holschuh, went on a series of trips to Uruguay where she met with weaving collectives and Merino sheep farmers and herders. Merino wool forms the foundation of her woven designs.
What does it mean to live consciously?
Here, we highlight how we perform against the sustainability priorities for the fashion industry as defined by the Global Fashion Agenda. This is work in progress, and we're constantly seeking to learn, improve, and adapt our approach.
Sharing our process empowers you with knowledge and gives the artisans and labourers behind WEHVE the attention they deserve.
Feel good in what you wear
Uruguay’s temperate climate and large pasture lands are excellent for sheep breeding. The sheep roam freely, and are only brought into the shearing hut once a year to get shorn by professional shearers. The process is easy and fluent, without stressing the sheep. Believe it or not, but when the treatment of the sheep lacks humanity, it shows in the quality of the wool.
High quality at the source
The wool is then thrown onto the sorting table and checked for fineness, stability, fullness, and resistance. Fleeces are washed to remove dirt, dust, vegetable matter, sweat, and wool grease.
Did you know that the wool grease is recovered and from it lanolin is extracted? You can find lanolin in your everyday beauty products. This zero waste approach is an essential part of the WEHVE philosophy.
Specific techniques such as carding, combing, and gilling prepare the wool for the spinning process, in which the wool is formed into a yarn. The processes conducted between scouring and spinning are collectively known as top making.
Spin me around
At WEHVE, we use a technique called ring spinning. As a result, our yarns have lower hairiness and pilling tendencies.
Live in color
The secret to the incredible colours of WEHVE designs lies in the artisanal process of kettle-dyeing in small pots. Old techniques are honoured and preserved, creating subtle nuances, striated colours, and fantastic shading.
Each piece is unique.
Wehve stands for weaving
As you probably know by now, WEHVE derives its name from weaving, the process of interlacing yarns.
WEHVE is different. We know our weavers personally, and they set the price for their labor knowing the value of their craft on the international market.
100% Artisan made, with respect
WEHVE is actively contributing to the independence and autonomy of the people who dye and weave the collections. The end-result is socially-conscious, collaborative, and creative. Above all, it's a testament to the know-how and tradition of the artisans.
Supply chain traceability
We carefully select and personally know every stakeholder in our supply chain.
Our Merino wool is sourced in Uruguay and Argentina from sheep herded by a local shepherd. In case you were wondering: the controversial practice of mulesing does not exist in Uruguay and in Argentina.
We employ local spinners, yarn dyers, weavers, and finishing teams to spin, kettle dye, weave, and package our designs.
Reversing climate change
Our dyers take advantage of the 320+ days of sunshine to naturally dry our yarns. No heavy machinery, no energy consumed.
We are proud to produce only what has been ordered, avoiding over-production and waste.
All packaging is made from recycled materials.
Circular fashion system
Merino wool is washable, UV resistant, and particularly durable. Merino wool is 6 times stronger than cotton.
Merino wool is therefore particularly suited for recycling. Our leftover yarn will be upcycled into new products.
Efficient use of water and energy
The Merino wool we use at WEHVE is naturally stain-repellant and self-cleaning. Less washing saves significant amounts of water and energy.
All of our colorants meet OEKO-TEX and 1907/2006 CE standards, ensuring our yarn is free of harmful substances.
Viscose production wastes a lot of water, so we've replaced it with Tencel. Tencel is a sustainable lyocell material (we work with the Austrian company Lenzing).
Respectful and secure work environments
Our weavers are organised in cooperatives, working 5 days a week in shared ateliers in their village or in the back of their homes.
There is no child labour amongst our weavers.
We pay our weavers their asking price, which is superior to local prices.
Sustainable material mix
We only use natural materials.
Merino wool is renewable and biodegradable–the fibre will naturally decompose in soil, giving nutrients back to the earth.
Merino forms the basis of all our styles, we like to combine it with Tencel, Alpaca and Tanguys cotton from Peru and occasionally Silk and Cachemire we source in Italy