Shopping is about the now. You’re buying something that is trendy now, and you want to feel the fabric in your hands now and enjoy that rush of dopamine through your system now. So it’s quite difficult — off-putting, even — to be asked to wait three months for a garment.
Yet this is exactly what you will be asked to do when you’re buying a handmade jacket or trousers from Luna del Pinal.
“It’s hard to convince consumers [to wait]. Not everyone cares as much as they say they do,” admits co-designer Gabriela Luna, “But they are getting a garment that has been handmade. For us, that’s priceless. That’s luxury.”
The starting point of their label happened organically. Disillusioned with their jobs as designers for small fashion brands, Luna and her friend Corina del Pinal had both quit their jobs in 2016 and headed to the latter’s native Guatemala. There, they took up a course on backstrap weaving — an ancient weaving technique found in the Andes.
The experience proved life-changing.
“We had envisaged how our life would be working in fashion in London, and after 10 years we’d realized it wasn’t quite like that. You can imagine; small studio, long hours, which is fine because we still do that. But it just wasn’t as fulfilling as we had hoped,” Luna recalls.
Together, the two designers realized they wanted to do something that would have a social impact, would help local artisans to keep their crafts alive, and would take traditional-looking ethnic weaving into the 21st century using edgier and sophisticated patterns.
From the start, Luna del Pinal readily embraced the slow fashion movement, and the designers opted for a made-to-order approach, with each garment created entirely by hand. Luna says the brand also incorporated a zero-waste approach to the process. Starting from the design stage, they would plan the textile specifically to a pattern, “so there is no cutting involved, no wastage.”
Continuing their commitment to creating green fashion, Luna del Pinal worked with The New Denim Project — a design lab that produces threads and fabrics from recycling waste material collected from the denim textile mills in Guatemala — to incorporate upcycled cotton threads into all of their weavings.
Because the designers opted to create their own textiles and tailor each garment for the customer, they do face a longer production process. “It is our biggest challenge, and something that we still struggle with. It can be very tough to work with artisans that have a very different lifestyle and don’t care about deadlines as much as we do. ‘Tomorrow’ can have a different meaning for different people,” Luna explains, “but we wouldn’t want to do it differently.”