Peruvian Connection was founded as a luxury knitwear brand in 1976 by the mother and daughter team Annie and Biddy Hurlbut, who launched the venture from a farmhouse in Tonganoxie, Kansas. After discovering the beauty of hand-woven alpaca sweaters while studying for her dissertation in Peru, Annie brought one home as a gift for her mother. Biddy later approached a buyer at Hall’s in Kansas City about carrying the sweaters and the store placed a modest order.
The young company began contracting designers and Andean artisans to create hand-woven knits, which were wholesaled to luxury boutiques. In 1979 Peruvian Connection was featured on the front page of the New York Times style section. This proved to be a huge boon for the Hurlbuts. Inquiries from potential customers began to flood in and they responded by mailing small brochures directly to consumers. This allowed the company to transition into a successful catalog business.
Through the 1990s and into the 20th century the company continued to receive attention in the media that highlighted the exclusive nature of the label. In 1994 Peruvian Connection was approached by Anna Sui to make Norwegian-inspired sweaters for her fall runway show. In 2017 Kate Middleton was spotted wearing an alpaca hat while attending church services on Christmas day, leading the press to note that both Kate and her mother, Carole, were fans of the brand.
In the 1980s and 1990s the company expanded their inventory to include accessories, household textiles, and Pima cotton clothing. By 1997 eight million catalogs a year were mailed to customers in the US and overseas and the company was grossing 17 million dollars annually. Peruvian Connection now has several retail stores throughout the United States and the United Kingdom. They offer a full range of womenswear and accessories in addition to a line of home goods. The company still specializes in luxury artisan knitwear and it is still based out of Tonganoxie, Kansas.
Written by Jennifer Binns of Hollie Point Vintage