More often than not, when I’m pulling together my weekly interiors page for The Herald magazine, I come across an independent Scottish business with a global reach. My most recent discovery is the Samantha Holmes label, one of the longest established Alpaca lifestyle brands in the UK. (For me, Alpaca aces cashmere in terms of its softness and durability.)
Samantha founded the company in 2003, and is still running it from her home in the Scottish coastal town of Helensburgh. Each product is designed in Scotland and made by skilled artisans in Peru using traditional methods. Her latest collection of hand-crafted fashion and home accessories is made from soft natural fibres such as ethically sourced baby alpaca and bamboo.
Alpaca knit hot water bottle £65
Explains Samantha: “I design my own collections and love working with beautiful yarns and fabrics. I am always drawn to expert craftsmanship, and treasured traditions – like the age-old Peruvian tradition of working with Alpaca.”
Originally an Art and Languages graduate from Edinburgh University, Samantha was first inspired by luxury fabrics and traditional craftsmanship in Nepal from where she started importing cashmere from a small hand-weaving cooperative, however it was on discovering Alpaca, that she found her niche.
Alpaca fur throw £1000
Samantha travelled to Peru to make contact with small producer groups, and together they continue to produce exclusive collections of handcrafted luxury gifts, fashion accessories, Alpaca babywear, Alpaca clothing and Alpaca home ware, using only the finest micron baby Alpaca wool.
The fur used is from Alpaca that have died of natural causes – baby Alpacas – or ‘cria’, as they are known. The younger, weaker animals often perish in the harsh Andean winter and are never killed purely for their fur.
Always passionate about mountainous countries, Samantha is mindful of Scotland’s unique textile heritage which has a strong influence on her designs. “I have moved away from the more rustic ethnic style associated with South American crafts to a classic, uncluttered, more universally appealing look,” she explains.
Alpaca chunky knit baby shawl & blanket £75