Shopping for quality Peruvian alpaca products while sipping a glass of French wine? Now it’s possible–and I don’t mean online. Recently, two Aracari team members, Caroline and I, had the opportunity to visit the Concept Store “Cajamarca 219” in Barranco, which opened last year in 2014. Set down a quiet street in the Bohemian district of Lima, this new addition to the neighborhood is one-of-a-kind in the area and worth a visit, especially if you’re in the market for high quality clothing or furniture made from alpaca (although they sell other things as well).
The store and its products are the creation of Thibault van der Straete, a French designer based in Peru. He designs and produces articles of clothing such as sweaters, scarfs, slippers and vests using pima cotton and alpaca wool, handspun and hand-woven. In addition to the staple alpaca sweater, the store sells rugs, pillows, sofas and other homeware created from vintage woven alpaca ponchos beautifully stitched together forming patterns of patchwork and stripes.
Der Straete is not a newcomer to Peru. In fact, his first trip was over 20 years ago, when he was inspired by the colors, scenery, people and their traditions. After becoming familiar with traditional weaving of alpaca wool, he began to use alpaca fabrics, woven in the Peruvian Andes, in his fashion collection.
Everything is made in Peru with Peruvian materials. Originally focused on exporting, sending sofas, rugs, and clothing to Europe and Japan, Der Straete’s collection of alpaca products are now, not only available in stores in London, New York, Japan and elsewhere in Europe, but have a homebase in Lima, where the designer has been living since 2008.
The entrance to the Concept Store is a hallway with art, design and lifestyle books for sale as well as their own organic chocolate, organic coffee and soap dishes. Although the store is not very large, the high ceilings, tasteful decor and colorful alpaca products create a cozy and welcoming environment with many items to catch your eye.
Alpacas come in colors such as beige, brown, white or black. The colors of the clothing are natural, often made entirely from one alpaca, without the use of dyes, and the wool is ecologically handspun and woven. Customers can order specific colors of furniture but must be conscious of the fact that much care and time goes into the search for vintage ponchos of similar hues that will match nicely in a cohesive color scheme. Many of the ponchos include bright stripes adding color from natural Amazonian dyes creating a design that is a “contrast between warm and cold, ancient and modern”.
Now, back to the wine. The Concept Store has a couple of tables inside and another outside, where guests can enjoy a coffee, glass of wine, dessert, soup or small plates before or after perusing items in the store. The outdoor area includes an array of plants and different colored bottles and mirrors as decorations. It’s a great space for a coffee in the afternoon or an after work glass of wine with friends.
The tentative opening hours are 9:30am-9pm Sunday through Thursday and 9:30am-11pm Friday and Saturday. I say tentative because, like any good neighborhood cafe, if guests are enjoying drinks or in the middle of a dessert, the Concept Store will stay open a little later to accommodate everyone. However, unlike a regular café, the Concept Store combines food and fashion, a place to enjoy a light meal or snack in a nice setting and return home with a beautiful alpaca blanket (or sofa!).