Born in Chile into a family of Italian and Spanish immigrants, educated by English ladies in a school that was all about British values and traditions, raised near a port city with a strong multicultural heritage, Andrea Oneto has known from her early years the very best of many worlds.
As a self-made slow fashion designer – with studies in fine arts, architecture and culinary arts – she started Alpaca Samka in 2007, working with Aymara weavers from the Andes highlands of Chile. She travelled to many isolated, and it would seem, almost forgotten villages for more than two years, living in harsh conditions between 2,800 and 5,800 meters ( 9,186 – 19,000 feet) above sea level to rescue ancestral weaving and braiding techniques.
Andrea Oneto only works with natural fibres, mostly with alpaca yarns from animals bred in natural pastures, hand spun and hand woven by indigenous women or by her at her studio workshop. Recently she added linen yarns from Crossville (which exports all its production to England) to create her first SS collection. This hand woven blend between alpaca and linen combines the best of two natural fibres.
Her collections are based on traditional Andean methods and British weaving patterns keeping the legacy of both the Andes native peoples and the immigrant pioneers to South America. She values simplicity and authenticity, where less is more, creating timeless collections, quality textiles with an infinite lifespan.
Having developed collections based on the British textiles legacy in Chile, Alpaca Samka participated in an exhibition at the London Chilean Embassy called “The Best of Chilean Design” (organized by the Chilean Trade Commission Office – ProChile – and World Latin Trends. The featured collection was Humberstone. Alpaca Samka was subsequently chosen and mentored by the UK DIT (Department of International Trade) to take part in the UK Latin American Inward Investment Project.
Andrea and her Alpaca Samka has been nominated for the Best Sustainable Luxury Performance in Accessories and Garments (LATAM) for three consecutive years, and has represented Chile for the Ethical Fashion Show in Paris, participated in the World Latin Trends fashion shows in London and Santiago, and has been featured in magazines such as Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar (LATAM).
50% of Alpaca Samka’s production is made in association with the Aymara weavers in Chile with the rest made in Gloucestershire using alpaca fibre sourced from both Chile and the UK, combined with wool from UK.