Welcome to our newest editorial initiative, Who What Wear Spotlight, where we'll be using our editorial platform, social following, and ad inventory to turn the spotlight on small businesses that need our support now more than ever. Each week, we'll be highlighting a new fashion or beauty company. If you own a small brand and would like to be considered for the program, please apply here.
Like many of the brands featured in the Who What Wear Spotlight, Escvdo is participating in the movement for slow and sustainable luxury fashion. For this Peruvian brand, that looks like supremely beautiful and unique handcrafted clothing, each piece requiring a double, if not a triple, take. Chiara Macchiavello founded Escvdo to design fashion that pays homage to her Peruvian heritage. That intention comes through in impeccably soft alpaca-wool sweaters, handwoven smocked dresses, and beautiful accents of embroidery, crochet, billowy cuffs, and pom details on every item.
Macchiavello's mom has been a huge force behind her growth as an artist and consciously minded businesswoman. "I grew up in Lima, Peru, in a loving family. I'd consider my sister, mother, and myself the creative nucleus of our family, while our father is a lot more business oriented. From an early age, we'd always been pushed to try new things—to look at colors more deeply, to stare at things for a bit longer," Macchiavello says of her childhood. "My mother was a big advocate in us skipping school for a beach day. She valued family time and laughs over textbooks and math."
That instilled a passion for the culture of her home that Macchiavello didn't see in her peers growing up. That passion stuck with her and motivated her to create a company that wasn't just honoring her culture in its designs but that was also making a commitment to it on the local level through female empowerment and sustainable, fair-trade production practices.
"We feel super proud to form part of the Sí Collective family, a group of Latin brands united under the direction of Cloclo Echavarria and Isabella Behrens—a powerhouse duo that focuses on Latin brands and how to expand them onto the global market," says Macchiavello of the three-year partnership. "At times, it's hard to find good people to work with in this industry, but the experience with them has been very rewarding."
In working with Sí Collective, Macchiavello and her business partner, Daniel Huby, have gotten Escvdo into retailers like MatchesFashion and Ron Herman in the UK, Canada, Japan, and the United States. Read the story to learn more about the brand and shop its incredible pieces.
Tell us about yourself and your business.
I studied graphic design at the art institutes in Fort Lauderdale and San Diego in 2004 and subsequently specialized in Performance: Design and Practice at London’s Central Saint Martins University of the Arts. In 2005, in London, my sister and I presented a line of one-of-a-kind pieces called Apus, which were the first steps of what was to come. I began my artistic experimentation with clothes when I came back to Lima and designed colorful costumes for a group of Peruvian folk singers in 2006. I presented my work in shows in the early-to-mid 2000s, and I later started focusing on creating a ready-to-wear brand with a strong focus on textile design using millenary weaving techniques and premium, natural fibers.
Escvdo is a contemporary, ethical luxury fashion brand inspired by and dedicated to our Peruvian heritage. We pride ourselves on our use of ancestral weaving techniques in the execution of our modern and elegant designs.
We are committed to sustainability and transparency in the execution of our collections. We employ skilled artisans in both the sourcing of materials and the creation of our one-of-a-kind, handmade pieces, contributing to the local economies and financially supporting age-old traditions. We work with a predominantly female artisan staff and are dedicated to recruiting and promoting women artisans in hopes to provide financial independence and female empowerment.
Can you tell us more about the textiles used in Escvdo designs?
Our organic pima cotton comes from the coastal region of Pisco, Peru, and adheres to the highest fair-trade standards. The specific cotton strain used for our garments provides the longest fibers available, yielding an exceptionally soft product.
Our alpaca wool is sourced from the Peruvian Andes, where we partner with local craftspeople in the preservation of traditional sheering and hand-spinning techniques as well as the conservation and promotion of the 22 natural fiber tones found in native Peruvian alpacas. Alpaca wool is softer, lighter, and warmer than most other wools and is considered renewable and eco-friendly. No animals are harmed in the production process.
All sourced fibers are brought to our headquarters in Barranco, Lima, where they are transformed by our in-house knitting team. Each garment is hand-stitched, and all finishings are done manually.
What inspired you to start your business?
Growing up in Peru in the '90s was interesting, to say the least. I definitely noticed that most of my friends had a penchant for all things American and not a lot of interest in what our country offered. My mother took my sister and me on crazy trips within rural Peru: We'd go to tucked-away villages that hid secrets in textiles and learned stories of female perseverance and independence through art and culture. I'd say that's when my interest in Peru and its cultural background piqued.
Escvdo's main pillar is Peru and my admiration toward its people and cultures. I would say these trips definitely inspired me to pay homage to that. Most of our collections are inspired by either a pre-Columbian culture, a folkloric dance, an artist, or some cultural element that speaks loudly about being a proud Peruvian.
And if you had to sum up your business in five or so words?
Redefined luxury, cool, organic, timeless.
What has been your proudest moment as a business owner?
If you would have asked me a year ago, I would have probably said that being on the window display at Bergdorf Goodman was probably one of my proudest moments. I know that, for Daniel, his proudest moment would probably be landing stores like MatchesFashion or Moda Operandi, but I think that seeing my team persevere during this moment of crisis has been, without a doubt, my proudest moment.
I recently gave birth to my third child, Massimo. I am so happy and in love with my children, but of course, they demand a lot of time. With school being purely digital, I am now a stay-at-home mom, a teacher, and I have a newborn, so it's hard to pour as much attention into my work as I used to be able to. I love seeing that the greatest thing we've built over the years is a solid, working team that can operate well and I can trust with my eyes closed. I'm also proud to see how we're still working for our community of artisans, and in spite of all that has happened, we are still having a healthy production cycle with them.
How have social distancing and stay-at-home orders affected your business? How have your priorities shifted?
The current global pandemic has affected our business in more ways than one. Peru underwent some of the strictest quarantine rules on the planet, and we are, to this day, still under quite a strict regime compared to the rest of the world. The sudden halt of operations brought forth a number of store cancellations and an immediate drop in interested buyers, making us realize how delicate our business really was. I think, when this first started, we were really scared of what the outcome would be, and the word "survival" was definitely mentioned more than 10 times a day. With drastic changes within our operations, we've managed to shape up our business in a good way, and it finally gave us time to do things that we kept putting off.
My business partner, Daniel Huby, oversees all the commercial operations within the brand, and he used to do a lot of traveling to sell the brand around the globe. With a sudden halt on traveling, he's been able to focus on e-commerce strategies and ways of reinventing our sales strategy. We're trying to disrupt the global fashion calendar by doing fewer collections with timeless and more seasonless pieces to enforce our customers to buy longer-lasting clothes. We're prioritizing our production chain, making it more efficient and making sure that we maintain an active conversation with our artisans in order to ensure that their well-being and overall satisfaction with the company are kept to the best standard.
Let's give a little spotlight love to other brands. What are two to three of your favorite brands you like to support and why?
Monica Sordo: Her bold, effortless pieces are a breath of fresh air in today's minimalist world.
Mozh Mozh: A Peruvian brand that is redefining traditional aesthetics in a stylish explosion of colors.
Jardin Azul: My sister's new line that I love and respect so much. Her collection, made out of upcycled materials such as linens and tablecloths, really narrates her effortless style and impeccable taste.
Shop Chiara Macchiavello's Favorite Escvdo Pieces
"The Tiza dress is so elegant and demure. I love wearing mine every chance I get. It’s one of those pieces that makes you look twice at it because it has so many hidden details. The body is entirely done by crochet, and the skirt is handwoven by a group of amazing artisans in the Andes. It’s my all-time favorite long-sleeve dress."