Unlike the journey taken by most Panama Hats in the world, which pass through the hands of around seven different intermediaries (known as ‘perros’ or dogs due to their unscrupulous purchasing practices) Pachacuti works directly with our artisans in every step of the process, weaving, dyeing, blocking, finishing, to ensure that as much of the final value as possible remains in their hands.
Pachacuti pays a fair price which is monitored through interviews to ascertain the local cost of living and by measuring the price we pay against the government’s cañasta básica vital, the monthly market price of meeting basic needs for a family of 4.
We work with our weaving associations to break down the price of every style of hat to calculate the cost of the raw materials, the dyes, the overheads, the labour and the profit margin.
We provide ongoing training and investment, not just in design development and skills, but in self-esteem, human relations, costing of products and overheads, and health and safety.
We have piloted projects which demonstrate our commitment to our weavers, including becoming the first company in the world to be Fair Trade Certified under the Sustainable Fair Trade Management System in 2009 and piloting the Fair Trade Guarantee System in 2011, become the first fashion brand in the world to receive the new label. Our work on the 3 year EU Geo Fair Trade project involved the collection of 68 social, economic and environmental indicators. This has enabled us to measure our Fair Trade impact on 165 women, tracking progress over a three year period.
Since 1992, we have worked to preserve and encourage traditional hat weaving skills in Ecuador. The average age of weavers in one of our current association is 58 and we need to ensure this way of life is viable for future generations of Panama hat weavers. This is why, in 2015, we provided a substantial interest-free loan to help establish a new organisation working with younger weavers.