The founders of the company are based in London. One of the founders is of Colombian descent, and her grandmother was born into a family of weavers, which was a craft that was passed down from one generation to the next. This inspired the founders to seek more information about the traditional artisanal craft, which led to the inception of ORTUS.
All of our hats are woven by hand in Colombia using 100% Iraca palm straw, which is distinctive in both quality and beauty. The straw is purchased by the weavers, hand dyed and finely hand woven in the weaver’s home. Each hat takes up to three days to weave and is then hand moulded, pressed, stitched and finished with a hand dyed grosgrain ribbon which are made in the UK.
The toquilla palm is the source of the iraca palm straw. The straw is extracted from the leaf. The leaf is torn and ripped, leaving the strips of straw which are then ripened to remove the fibres. The strips of straw are bundled and boiled and are then hung on ropes and/or wires and left to drain and dry in the sun.
Before completing the drying process, each bundle is battered using the palm of the hand; a technique that is used to prevent tangling, thereby separating each strand of straw during the drying process. The bundles of straw are then left to continue air drying for 2 to 3 days in the sun.
After this process, the bundles of straw are placed in clay ovens and/or wooden stoves for several hours and are subjected to a bleaching process using sulphur. This is mainly handled by the palm ripper and the process is often undertaken within their homes.
Once the straw has undergone the aforementioned process, the straw is hand dyed on the kitchen stove in the weaver’s home. After the weaver has dyed the straw, the straw is hung in bundles to air dry for several hours. Each hat is then hand woven and takes approximately 3 days to weave. After this, the hats are hand pressed, moulded and finished.
Each hat holds its own unique story. They are individually dyed and crafted by the artisans, which means that the colour variant hold its own differentiated characteristics. No two hats are ever the same!
We would like to be an ethical fashion brand that gives back whether it is by donating a percentage of the proceeds of sale or getting involved in projects to improve the lives of the artisans and their local communities.
We also endeavour to pay a fair wage and ensure that each weaver we work directly with has the adequate safety equipment and attire.
As we develop the brand, we will develop our giving back initiatives.