G.Viteri was founded by Gaby Viteri and Roberto Bolona to promote high-quality luxury accessories that strengthen the local economy in their native Ecuador while preserving the environment. After recognizing the need for consumers to start making better, more informed choices in their everyday lives, including fashion, Gaby and Roberto launched the brand based on three core values: sustainability, fair trade and the handmade process.
Incentivizing and empowering artisans is part of G.Viteri’s DNA. The brand provides stable employment opportunities to more than 300 artisans across the country, 90% of whom are women and their immediate families, ultimately impacting over 2,000 people. Most of the artisans they work with work from their home, enabling them to spend time with their families and limiting their travel and childcare expenses. Gaby works hand-in-hand with the artisans, learning and growing with them and opening the design process up to their input and ideas.
The majority of G.Viteri’s pieces are handcrafted using toquilla straw: a plant that grows exclusively near the coast of Ecuador, especially in the Manabi Province. The process of handcrafting a toquilla straw hat is a lengthy one that involves multiple artisans.
“All of our products are made with love and joy, while preserving the environment and communities.” - Gaby Viteri, Founder
First, toquilla straw stalks are cut by hand, bundled and transported to two weaving villages: Manabi and Azuay. Here, the stalks are opened and split into thin straws, which are separated by thickness and grouped in lengths of about one meter before being cleaned, boiled and hung to dry in the Ecuadorian sun. When the straw is ready, the weaver selects the best pieces and cuts it to the preferred length. Always dipping their fingers in water first, the artisans split the fiber razor thin, and weave outwards from the center of the crown using a wooden crown form as support. This kind of weaving is a unique skill handed down from generation to generation. The greatest weavers work only by the light of the moon or when the sky is overcast.