Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Presented at Textile Society of America 11th Biennial Symposium: Textiles as Cultural Expressions, September 4-7, 2008, Honolulu, Hawai'i. Copyright © 2008 Margarete Ordon


Peruvian Connection, a high-end clothing company, has built its reputation on selling clothes made from finely crafted textiles using luxury fibers. Self-consciously marketing itself as a celebration of cross-cultural exchange, the company appropriates designs from Andean textiles and fuses them with elements from Western fashion and other global textile practices. Through transnational and transcultural design, production, and distribution, the company simultaneously stresses distance and connection, difference and sameness, in a constant tug of war over the designs, skills, labor, materials, and products. In exploring Peruvian Connection’s cultivation of its cross-cultural textiles, I analyze how the company promotes the design, production, and distribution of its goods. I examine how the company uses textiles—specifically fibers, techniques, designs, as well as the designers and makers— to straddle multiple geographic, temporal, and cultural locations, while simultaneously trying to ground its products to a particular place—Peru.

Using primary evidence from the company’s catalogs and website, in addition to scholarly research on the company, I discuss how Peruvian Connection distorts the textile designs, objects, and cultures of a colonized region that it claims to not only celebrate but also keep alive. I unsettle the problematic narratives Peruvian Connection uses to sell its products, while also exploring how the company opens space for pleasure or positive engagement with the cultures it appropriates. This paper does not propose specific, determined conclusions about the ambiguities around Peruvian Connection’s design and marketing practices. Instead, the paper opens a platform to discuss issues around cross-cultural design in textiles.