Peru is steeped in rich history and culture. Its remarkable landscapes and geological wonders have changed our lives. This year, we wanted to include you on the journey. We created this Explore Peru collection alongside local Peruvian artist, Neil Gayoso, to honor three locations in Peru. As you'll see on each design, Neil’s artistic creations embrace the spirit and wonder of each place.
Additionally, we’ve partnered with our friends from Visit South America, Exploor Peru, and World Textile Sourcing (WTS) to give even more meaning to this collection. For each shirt purchased, you'll be entered into a travel giveaway to visit Rainbow Mountain, Ausangate, and Machu Picchu. We hope through this initiative, we can encourage exploration of the beautiful country that's become our home.
Meet the artist
Neil Gayoso is a multimedia artist living in Lima, Peru. We became admirers of his work before ever meeting in person. It quickly became clear that our values were in alignment, which initiated our new collaboration.
“The energy of Paka was so pure,” Neil recalls his first encounter with our founder Kris Cody. “I was surprised to see what Paka was doing here in Lima. Their work was really beneficial to the well-being of the Peruvian people. It shows the culture, the place, and the connection to the people.” Neil has built his career as an artist by only taking on projects that he connects with: “My work is full-time, so need to choose projects and collaborations wisely.” He was drawn to work with Paka because of our mission. But he was also inspired to collaborate on this specific project because of the places we planned to feature.
The three tees feature Ausangate, Rainbow Mountain, and Machu Picchu made with a natural blend of Organic Pima Cotton and Royal Alpaca and earth-friendly dyes. The colors represent a specific aspect of each place, while the art embodies both the places' meaning to the local people, and the sensation of visiting.
“This was the first project [I’ve worked on] that involved a place. I needed to translate, with a single graphic, the essence of the place, with a lot of respect for the location and what it means to the community,” said Neil.
Neil wanted the art to allow you to connect without having to travel to Peru. His impressions and feelings were emulated through playful and whimsical colors in the Rainbow Mountain tee, strength in simplicity for Ausangate, and an air of mystery in Machu Picchu.
Ausangate is the father of all mountains. For the Inca, he is a spirit that protects the people and surrounding mountain ranges. All of the glacier that melts out of Ausangate feeds Cusco, the Sacred Valley, and even parts of the Amazon river. For that, Ausangate is known as the creator of water. His spirit remains very much alive nowadays - the local Quechua deeply honor and respect Apu Ausangate, making offerings (k’intus) to ensure his protection.
This design was originally inspired on a hike in Ausangate, where our founder Kris found a deep purple rock that became the color of the shirt. We worked endlessly to mimic it with earth-friendly dyes. From there, Neil took the power of the Apus (mountain spirits) with a golden sunset and juxtaposed the white, snowy mountain outline you see on the back.
“When I do clothing design, I choose the color of the garment, and then I design for that canvas,” says Neil. Commercially, it isn’t normally done this way, but the creative direction behind Neil's work requires that the graphics must be perfectly fused with the base color of the shirt. When it came to actually creating the graphic and conveying the feeling of standing at the base of Ausangate, Neil took the approach of simplicity: “I wanted to keep it as simple as possible, to encapsulate the breathless feeling of awe you would feel looking up at it from its base.” It was important for Neil to capture a reverence for the mountain because it is a place for respect and has been for thousands of years.
“It can be said that Rainbow Mountain actually existed before the Andes. At one point, these colors were flat and horizontal, each layer representing its own moment in Earth’s history with a unique mineral composition. Imagine a cake with layers. When the tectonic plates began to collide 45+ million years ago - a process called subduction - the Andes were formed, pushing these geological plates up into the wavy mountain formation you see today. These distinct hues come from goethite, hematite, oxidized iron, copper, and even sulfur. There still remains a lot of investigation to understand this masterpiece.”
The Rainbow Mountain tee was inspired by the natural art of the landscape. A geological mystery yet to be fully uncovered, Rainbow Mountain, features a thrilling array of colors, and has become wildly popular over the past several years. While designing the Rainbow Mountain tee, Neil emphasized the wild color palette: “I took a more fun, playful approach to make a graphic,” said Neil. “The idea is that nature is a huge artist, so the colors of the mountain kind of melt like they were painted.” Neil further played with this concept of the grand artist by drawing small travelers to show the massive scale of Pachamama’s (Mother Earth’s) artwork.
“Machu Picchu, known as the “Lost City of the Inca,” sits on top of a mountain 8,000+ feet in a tropical forest with endemic biodiversity. The city was discovered in 1911, and historians believe it was built at the height of the Inca Empire mid-15th century. While many entertain extraterrestrial involvement in Machu Picchu’s construction, historians believe it was done by thousands of humans. The common Inca people built Machu Picchu out of passion and honor for their empire. It’s a symbol of human potential, showcasing a perfect balance between technology and nature.”
The Machu Picchu tee was inspired by one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Neil’s design captures the serenity of Machu Picchu with soft hues: “With this one, I leaned into the peaceful and dreamy colors,” says Neil. He described how he wanted this tee to embrace the experience of the traveler, standing there in silence, and seeing this place for the first time.
Along the sleeve, Neil’s art pays tribute to the Trilogy of the Andes and the Inca people. A snake, puma, and condor represent the space beneath us, around us, and above us. For Neil, this element of the tee represents the connection the Inca people had to the natural world.
We hope each of these long sleeve graphic tees helps transport you to the locations through Neil’s craft as an artist. On top of this, we are also excited to further the connection to these places by offering an unforgettable experience. Each piece purchased from this Explore Peru collection enters you in a giveaway to visit all three remarkable locations in person. Through this giveaway, you’ll have the chance to visit Peru and all three special locations with a companion of your choice.
Visiting Peru: giveaway itinerary
Upon arrival in Peru, you’ll be greeted by the Visit South America and Exploor Peru teams, who will guide you to your hotel.
After a night of relaxation and acclimatization, you will travel through Cusco, exploring some of the most recognizable and historically relevant venues in the region. From the lively Plaza de Armas, to the remarkable Saqsayhuaman, the cathedral, and a variety of museums, you’ll have the opportunity to see some of the top destinations in the area.
After being swept away by the culture and colors of Cusco, Exploor Peru will take you to the Sacred Valley, where you’ll meet our weavers. Nilda might even share a cup of Coca Tea with you. From there, you’ll travel through Chinchero and Moray into Ollantaytambo, where you’ll take a train to Aguas Calientes, a town that’s known for its thermal baths.
If you are up for an early morning, you’ll wake up at 6 am to revel in the sunrise at Machu Picchu. You can spend the day taking in one of the Seven Wonders of the World and return to Cusco that evening in a state of awe, ready for a good night's sleep.
Exploor Peru loves to guide clients to Rainbow Mountain before the crowds arrive. So, you’ll have a 2 am wake-up call that will allow you to see the mountain in its most serene state. You’ll enjoy the epic views, then visit Red Valley before having lunch in a traditional Peruvian mud house with a private chef.
Today, you’ll visit one of the most sacred places in Peru with a hike to Ausangate.
The final day is for decompression. You can spend your time reflecting on all of the adventures you’ve had and the memories you’ve made.
The Explore Peru collection launches tomorrow at 7am PST. We couldn't be more excited to share this collection and opportunity with our community! We thank our partners who have made this possible.
Visit South America
Visit South America, founded by Peruvian Hilton Davila, curates custom made adventures in South America and is a wonderful resource for adventures in Peru and throughout South America.
Exploor Peru is a travel agency that specializes in providing comfortable and culturally rich experiences in Peru.
World Textile Sourcing works to promote sustainable efforts and prioritize eco-tourism. They endlessly support Peruvian exploration by encouraging exposure to the culture and the wonderful artistry of Peru.
We are confident the tees that feature Neil's gift for embodying the essence of a place will help you feel more connected to Peru. We hope they foster inspiration, encouraging travelers to learn more about remarkable destinations like Ausangate, Machu Picchu, and Rainbow Mountain.
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