For ALAS founders Kelly Elkin and Betony Dircks, a chance meeting at a party has led to an intimate collaboration with artisans in a small lakeside community of San Juan, Guatemala. Situated on the edge of Guatemala’s biggest lake, Lake Atitlan, it is considered a sacred place and the community of San Juan is famous for its naturally dyed yarns and artisanal work.
Sleepwear label ALAS has discovered the splendour of this craftsmanship, and is adding to its collection of sustainable loungewear by collaborating with textile designer Tara Whalley to create hand-woven slippers made in San Juan. The two met Whalley at a party. “We just so happened to be on the look out for a slipper producer and Tara just so happened to be moving to Guatemala to immerse herself in traditional textiles. Once there, Tara got in touch because she had met a wonderful bunch of talented weavers.” Whalley spent the following year developing and sourcing materials in Guatemala, with the aim of partnering with local artisans and Mayan weavers to create sustainable and fair-wage work in the area.
The result is the limited-edition Like Water From a Lake range, featuring classic patterns in bright colour ways. All are entirely handmade using traditional methods of the San Juan Guatemalan weavers and cobblers. Each pair of slippers is made from organic, locally sourced cotton, spun and dyed using native plants and flowers. The inner and outer soles are made from Guatemalan vegetable tan leather and have been designed for durability (you can and should wear these outdoors!) Each slipper set even comes in a hand-printed organic bag, illustrated with the flora that has been used to dye the slippers’ yarn.
The label’s relationship with Guatemalan makers won't be limited to slippers says Elkin, "We have some limited-edition pillowcases and bags which are illustrated by Tara. She sat by San Juan Lake while Francesca dyed the yarn and documented each plant, which we then turned into a beautiful print. Knowing we would have a direct impact on the families of weavers was exciting. This project is helping to fund their children going to school."
The collection is available to order now from alasthelabel.com