- AW is a new branch of the Aranda tree. We are writing the first chapter of its story.
Aranda (footprint & history)
- The tree that is Aranda, is deeply rooted in creativity, ingenuity, hard work and diversity of people and product.
- It was newly planted here in the early 1950’s by three brothers of the Magni family from Tuscany, Italy, who were trained and skilled in the textile industry.
- World War II left behind a trail of devastation and uncertainty in Europe, and the Magni family’s textile factory was completely destroyed in front of their eyes.
- Persuaded by a friend and without any relations, interests or contacts in South Africa, they chose the western part of the Witwatersrand of Johannesburg, today Randfontein, to plant Aranda, and to see it grow.
- From humble beginnings nearly 65 years ago, Aranda has grown into an established textile business that still strives to create beautiful products through the talents and hard work of South African people.
- Aranda is today, the only genuine fully vertical, manufacturer of blankets and throws in South Africa. This means that bales of raw material fibre are spun into strands of yarn, woven into fabric in a magnitude of colours and designs, and finished through intricate processes to achieve the particular texture, quality and diversity of the final product.
- Entrenched in its diverse range of products is a footprint of African tradition and culture, which is epitomised through its Basotho heritage range of licenced designs and products.
- The story of the Basotho Heritage Blanket can be traced to European traders and missionaries who came to Southern Africa as far back as the 1800's. It began with the father of The Lesotho Kingdom, King Moshoeshoe I. In 1860, King Moshoeshoe I was presented a woollen blanket as a gift. He was so taken with it, that he abandoned the traditional leopard skin kaross in favour of the blanket. The Basotho people soon followed their leader and to this day, the blanket is an integral part of their daily lives. It is also an essential feature of all important life events, from childbirth and marriage to initiation and the coronation of Kings. In 1865, when Queen Victoria gave her protection to Moshoeshoe’s kingdom at his request, he spoke of her as “spreading her blanket” over his country.
In 1897 Queen Victoria visited the then Basotholand during her Jubilee year. She gave King Lerotholi Letsie a blanket as a gift. The blanket was named the Victoria England. The Basotho people had a great love and respect for Queen Victoria and the Victoria England blanket has become a sought after status symbol. The Victoria England is the oldest of the Basotho blanket brands and includes many famous designs; for example the Badges of the Brave which was designed by Mr R.D. Shrubsole. He was inspired by the Basotho regiments who fought alongside the allies during World War II. The design features the various badges belonging to these regiments. However, through the years the Basotho have come to refer to this design as NZ, meaning Nazareth. This is more inclined towards their religious and Christian beliefs.
What makes the Basotho blankets unique is the layout of the design, the various symbols used, the bold colour combinations and the characteristic pin-stripe. This stripe was originally a weaving fault which has become a unique part of the design and dictates how the blanket is worn. When worn in the traditional manner, the pin-stripe runs vertically symbolising growth. Traditionally Basotho blankets are manufactured from wool which offers protection from the wind and rain and provides warmth in the high altitude of The Mountain Kingdom.
- Aranda’s story illustrates how the diversity of culture and heritage, combined with hard work and passion has created the unique range of products that are manufactured by Aranda today.
- We are proud of where we have come from. We are proud to be where we are today. And most of all we are proud to call ourselves Aranda.
Aranda Weave (place & perspective)
- Building on the entrenched tradition of creativity, AW has now branched out as a division that offers a fresh new range of products, hand-made from Aranda’s woven fabric.
- Over the past year, AW has built up a permanent team of about ten people, and operates from its own facility on the south-western wing of Aranda. It is run by dedicated, hardworking and creative people, and the operation is overseen by Aranda as a whole.
- Apart from its first product, the “Aranda Weave Fashion Handbag”, AW is now in the process of developing a range of exciting new products, handmade from a unique range of woven fabric.
- It will also soon introduce and offer products born from collaboration with other South African businesses and designers. We will particularly aim to accentuate an African heritage footprint with these collaborations, and will share the stories that underpin each collaboration.
- For now, AW is at the exciting stage where its identity is being carved out and its foundations being laid.
- As it finds its place and grows stronger, we wish to share its products and stories and hope to take you along on this journey.