Pachamama has been designing sustainable backpacks and leather goods since 2018, contributing to the development of responsible and ethical fashion. How ? By promoting the know-how of Bolivian artisans and choosing robust and resistant materials designed to last. On the occasion of the launch of their new “LEO” backpack, Gaétan Bouzac, co-founder of the brand, tells us more about Pachamama, the brand’s commitments and the process of developing their new products in collaboration with their community. Discovery †
Who are you and what is your project?
I am Gaétan, the co-founder of the Pachamama brand. Pachamama designs backpacks and sustainable leather goods† All our models are designed in France. Then we make our bags in a fair way in Bolivia. All our bags are made by hand from it noble and sustainable raw materials from the region.
At Pachamama we put people at the heart of our project. Our mission is to promote a sustainable lifestyle and to participate in the development of ethical fashion† On the one hand, we want to offer consumers quality bags that they can keep for years to come. On the other hand, we want to produce responsibly with our professionals and promote their craftsmanship†
To this end, we have built up a healthy and respectful relationship with our professionals. We work hand in hand with them to develop a range of authentic and quality products.
Our bags are directly available on our website† The collection consists of weekend bags, small leather goods and backpacks. We just released our latest LEO backpack this week. You will now discover it in preview on our site!
I take care of the communication of the brand and the exchanges with customers on a daily basis. I also take care of the development of new models. In particular, I was in Bolivia last month with our craftsmen to make the prototypes of our new LEO backpack!
What is the development process for a new product like?
For each new product development, we travel to Bolivia to facilitate work and exchanges with our artisans. That’s one of the reasons I was there in March. We’ve finalized the prototype of the new LEO backpack released this week!
However, the development of our new leather bags started much earlier. It starts in France with brainstorming sessions about our upcoming new products. We learn about the trends and needs of our community. This reflection phase is essential because it allows us to long-term vision and timeless products† We don’t want to make models that last one season and be replaced by a new collection the next. Each of our bags is intended to remain permanently in our range†
This view is one of the essential components of Pachamama. We wish participate in slow fashion by making useful and sustainable products that our customers can continue to wear in 10 years!
During this phase, we regularly exchange with our customers via email or Instagram to ask them for their opinion and to know their wishes† For us, a product has no place if it is not wanted by our community. It is therefore essential that we have the approval of our community before launching a new leather bag.
Once the design of the new bag is in hand, the second prototyping phase comes. For example, we fly once a year to join our artisans in Bolivia and produce the prototypes of the products that we will launch during the year.
Many exchanges take place here too. During the prototype work, our craftsmen intervene and propose changes to our original design† They bring us their experience and knowledge of leather, so that our backpacks are coherent, elegant and functional. After the changes have been taken into account, we can validate the final product. We can therefore speak of co-creation.
This was the case for our new LEO backpack. We wanted to make a new one more urban backpack in a clean and minimalist style† We have followed this approach in our designs, especially the removal of the front pockets that are characteristic of our first backpack models.
Once in Bolivia, our craftsmen relied on our diagrams to suggest different leathers to use for this new bag. We also determined together the most suitable sewing techniques to maintain the rectangular shape of the bag. This stage of work is fundamental to achieve the final product.
This is how, after several prototype attempts, we later came to the desired result: the new LEO backpack that you can now discover on our site!
Can you describe your daily life with artisans while in Bolivia?
When I am in Bolivia, we have different goals. On the one hand, we develop our new bags with professionals. On the other hand, we take advantage of our visit to Bolivia to make sure that they are happy to participate in our project. So I spend a lot of time with the artisans!
We spend our time in the tanneries looking for the ideal leather, or directly in their studio. Every craftsman works independently from home† In each of them is a room dedicated to the workshop with the sewing machines to manufacture the leather bags.
After 4 years of partnership, I am particularly close to the craftsmen, we have developed a strong friendship relationship. In addition to work, we have lunch together and also have moments of relaxation and laughter. For example, Edwin regularly invites me to spend the day at his home, all with his wife and children. It’s like my second family when I’m in Bolivia!
Finally, working conditions and wages are important topics we have with artisans† For us, a project cannot work if one of the stakeholders does not benefit from it. So, when we are in La Paz, it is our heart to make sure that everything is going well for every artisan.
For example, during our trip to Bolivia last March, we noticed that the price of certain types of leather had risen sharply due to the covid crisis. We have therefore discussed it with the professionals and made adjustments to the salaries. However, our goal is that craftsmen get a fair pricewithout affecting the final price for the customer. This is sometimes a difficult balance to find. But we keep our promises to support our artisans and local communities!
Can you tell us about the materials used in the manufacture of your products?
Our wish via Pachamama is over build a sustainable and responsible project† And this concerns in particular the choice of materials that we use in the manufacture of our backpacks. We want to create durable backpacks that last a long time† That’s why we switched to cowhide, known for its strength.
We prefer livestock farms in the Santa Cruz region of Bolivia because of their proximity and their small size† Our goal is to select: raw materials locally and to promote short circuit† This process allows us to reduce our impact on the environment and contribute to the local economy.
Our bags are only made from cow leather intended for the food industry† In other words, we we recycle waste by recovering the hides. In addition, to limit our consumption, Pachamama repairs all hides, even the parts with slight irregularities. These nuances are sometimes visible on our leather backpacks and we are proud of that! They add to the charm and uniqueness of every Pachamama bag.
Finally, our bags are made of vegetable tanned leather† Thanks to this technique, we obtain leather that is more respectful of nature, allowing us to align with the values of our project. In addition, the solidity of this type of leather matches our desire to design high-quality bags that will lastingly accompany the buyer in his daily life.
We also use aguayo in the manufacture of our backpacks. This traditional Bolivian fabric can be found in various places on the bags. Aguayo is an emblematic traditional fabric of Bolivia† It is a fabric mainly made by the Native American communities of the Andean highlands. This craft is still ubiquitous in everyday life and can be seen regularly while strolling the streets of Sucre or La Paz. For example, women use it to carry their children or their groceries when they go to the market.
Currently in disuse, we have decided to put this fabric in our backpacks to participate at our level in the rehabilitation of this unique craft. For example, discover the aguayo fabric on our new LEO backpack! We’ve tucked it discreetly and elegantly into the valves. A nice surprise for the owner every time he opens his bag.
And last but not least, responsible purchasing and responsible production are key concepts in the selection of our materials to contribute to a more ethical fashion!
What are your upcoming novelties?
Our stay in Bolivia in March was very fruitful! We have been able to complete the development of many products that have been halted due to the covid crisis. Thereby, we will be launching several new models in the coming year†
We’ve already talked about our new LEO urban backpack which you can now discover on our site!
In July it’s the turn of our new covers to place on our website† These bags are made of the same smooth and velvety leather as our other bags for perfect harmony. We also added a beautiful pompom in the colors of Bolivia or France!
At the start of the school year in September, we will publish the new full leather versions of our travel bags : a black leather version and a brown leather version. Enough for a well-rested weekend!
Finally, in October we will launch our new collection of handbags† This range, which consists of three different models, will be particularly expected. We’ve been refining every detail for almost two years now. We’re glad they finally see the light of day!
You are looking for a ethical and resistant backpack, designed to last? Visit the Pachamama website to discover the latest model of the brand “LEO” as well as other branded products.