This post is brought to you by our Eco-Fab Exhibitor, ARI - Eco Design Collective
ARI which means “yes” in Kichwa, the native language shared by indigenous communities from the Andes and Amazon rainforest in Ecuador, started out in 2009 when four individuals came together to start an association of artists inspired by similar Design Collectives in Europe. Glenkora Comte is an Ecuadorian fashion designer from Guayaquil. In 2012 she captivated the fashion world at the Miami International Fashion Week with her innovative designs using indigenous patterns and eco-materials. She was the leader of what would become a movement of ecological designers from Ecuador. Giovanna Bucheli, an architect and rector of the design institute DISMOD, runs a Fashion Design Institute with campuses in several Ecuadorian cities. She has been teaching fashion design and running DISMOD for over 10 years. Silvia Robledo a Colombian fashion designer and entrepreneur has the fashion label Complot, and works with indigenous women from the Amazon where she lives with her husband and runs the Anaconda Eco-Lodge. Brian Wallis, is a market specialist that studied in Holland and has worked with artisans and indigenous communities to help them start up small businesses and market their products.
The idea behind ARI was to link Ecuadorian artisans to designers to help them come up with innovative and marketable products. Today, ARI is made up of approximately 30 fashion designers who work with artisans to come up with one of a kind ecological products including handbags, accessories, clothing and home goods -- all using recycled materials and natural fibers. This year ARI will introduce its unique products at Green Festival in New York.
In 2009 ARI brought together 47 students from the Fashion Design programs of five of Ecuador’s most prestigious universities and institutes to present a fashion show using natural fibers and flowers sponsored by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations for the International Year of Natural Fibers. In 2010, ARI organized a contest called "Young Entrepreneurs Designing the Future" in which ARI’s members presented their collections using recycled materials and natural fibers at the City Museum of Quito. In 2011, ARI’s designers provided training as volunteers to help artisans improve the design and marketability of their products in some of Ecuador’s poorest communities. In 2012 two of ARI’s members presented their work on the runway of the Miami Beach International Fashion Week. In 2013 ARI was active in several textile expos and fashion shows, and is now a recognized collective of creative and innovative designer’s committed to promoting eco-friendly design. This year is ARI's debut at New York City Green Festival, America’s largest and longest running sustainability and green living event!