Winter in Santiago just makes me feel so blah. The sky is grey, the houses are freezing (most don´t have insulation) and in general there is a feel of waiting in the air … waiting for warmer days, longer evenings and las fiestas patrias. My absolute favorite month in Chile is September; if you are new to the city, just you wait – soon the sky will be a deep cloudless blue, dotted with volantines and the sound of flags flapping. This is the month when the sun begins creeping out for longer and longer, when the nights fill with the sound of music and laughter, when you can finally show the world some skin and banish those heavy jackets to that forgotten corner of your bedroom.
I cannot wait to say goodbye to winter, not least because I am one of those people that really suffer without a daily dose of sunshine. The weather mixed with post-partum hormones and a pretty isolated life has meant that I have been incredibly gloomy lately. In an attempt to lift my dark mood, I have been taking advantage of the Estadio Recoleta, not really a stadium these days but a smidge of greenery in an otherwise urban landscape that people use for their sporting needs. The Recoleta council (municipalidad) also offer a smorgasboard of free exercise classes every day, from Samba to Step, pilates and yoga. There are also paid classes too, including tae kwon do and swimming. I have been going to Zumba, held in the morning every Monday, Wednesday and Friday, and in the afternoon and evening on Tuesday and Thursday.
According to the internet, Zumba is a dance craze beloved of some 15 million people across 180 countries. It was created in the 1990´s by Alberto Perez in Colombia, and contains elements of cumbia, salsa, samba, reggaeton, hiphop, merengue, mambo, chachacha, soca and axe. Although a typical class, which is around an hour long, involves things like squats and aerobics, it doesn´t feel like exercise at all – it is dance. It is also crazy fun. Since I have been going to Zumba it feels like a huge pressure has been lifted from my mind, and I highly recommend giving it a go. The problem when you exercise is that you need something to wear, something that does the job and holds everything in place. What about if you could find gear that did that, but that also had some flair and personality? The athleisure market is flooded with designs to make you look good but these often come with a high price point, and are often made in sweatshops or overseas. This just doesn´t fly with me, particularly because I am all about supporting small businesses and things made in Chile. But the search isn´t futile!!! There are options and here I present to you one of them, La Pituka, who create beautiful leggings and other items right here in Chile.
Ten Questions with Tienda La Pituka
Who is La Pituka/Quien es La Pituka?
We are two partners, a mother and daughter team comprised of Soledad Herrera, publicist, and Alejandra Bianchi, photographer.
Somos dos socias, madre (Soledad Herrera Amigo, Publicista) e hija (yo, Alejandra Bianchi Herrera, Fotógrafa).
Why did you start the store/Por que hiciste la tienda?
We started with the underwear as it was something that we saw overseas but didn´t exist here in Chile! There was only things cut by laser without a design, and so we began investigating how to make clothes and stamp it. In 2011 we started our store in Barrio Italia where we sold things like necklaces, rings and hair accessories, all made by hand.
Which are you favorite products/Cuales son tus productos favoritos?
The leggings – they are so comfortable, great to go out in, to wear while walking, or sports or for yoga or pilates.
Las calzas … es que son muy cómodas, geniales para salir a caminar o para deportes y yoga o pilates.
What is your bestseller/Cual diseño que lo que mas se vende?
Generally that would be the designs which are very feminine, with lots of flowers and color, although the Rupturistas have been popular, such as the collage with matryoshka nesting dolls (below) or the asymmetric designs with one leg different to the other. The idea is that we make a certain amount using one design and then later we discontinue it.
Generalmente son diseños más bien femeninos, con harta flor y colorido, aunque los rupturistas también tienen buena acogida como un colage con matrioshkas que realizamos hace un tiempo ( o los diseños asimétricos, como una pierna diferente a la otra), el tema es que hacemos cierta cantidad con un diseño y luego lo descontinuamos… esa es la idea.
How can people buy and where/Como podemos comprar y donde?
Through our Facebook page, where we can post to anywhere in Chile, and we are currently working on having a ´buy now´ option on our website. Physically we are based in Pucon and in Santiago we will have a store in Barrio Italia, opening at the end of August.
What makes your products special/Por que son especiales tus productos?
Each item is made by hand, with affection, and we put a lot of thought into choosing the best fabrics and making sure that we give work to Chilean women.
Por que están hechos uno a uno con total cariño, nos preocupamos de elegir las mejores telas Chilenas y de dar trabajo a mujeres Chilenas en su confección.
Now for the general question that I ask everyone! Where is your favorite spot in the capital, Santiago/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Santiago?
Outside of the city, in the Cajon del Maipo.
Afuera de la ciudad, en el Cajon del Maipo.
And in all of Chile/Cual es tu lugar favorito en Chile?
Alcohuaz, in the Elqui Valley.
Alcohuaz, en el Valle del Elqui.
What is next for La Pituka/Cual es el futuro de la tienda?
To begin making a wider variety of women´s clothing that are perfect for the office while still using the best Chilean fabrics and colorful styles in full print!
Comenzar a confeccionar una gran variedad de ropa de mujer, siempre con nuestro estilo colorido, pero perfectamente de vestir como para la oficina, con las mejores telas Chilenas y full print!!!
The Fine Print
Santiago store: Galeria Italia Mia, Av. Italia 1548, Ñuñoa (Barrio Italia)
Pucon store: Urrutia 235, Pucon
Did you like this? Here are some more blogs that highlight local businesses:
Karun sunglasses made from recycled fishing nets and jeans;
Ñirre Bebe kids clothes and accessories made by hand;
TTANTI fine watches using fallen Patagonian trees;
Pajarito de Mimbre books and accessories that focus on Chilean culture;
Apicola del Alba natural cosmetics;
La Farine Pan a la Antigua traditional breadmaking in Curacavi.