The Ethical Fashion Initiative connects some of the world’s most marginalised artisans in Kenya, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Mali and Haiti to the fashion industry’s top talents, for mutual benefit. For fashion brands it is an opportunity to gain access to unique artisanal skills and authentic handmade products while also doing good. For the artisans, the connection gives them access to a market that values their skills and products, and is an opportunity to make a living from their savoir-faire.
“Africa is home to some of the most incredible skills and stylish craftspeople. It is a new global creative hub for design.” – Hirofumi Kurino, Creative Director, United Arrows
Many artisans working with us face the complex challenges of poverty; whether they are single mothers, widowed, coping with illness or have escaped civil conflict. The majority of those we work with in East Africa live in slums. Through regular income, they can improve their living conditions and take control of their lives. By bringing work to rural areas, we play a key role in stemming human migration to slums and enabling rural people to continue their way of life.
In each country our work is organised around a central hub - usually a social enterprise - which coordinates the work of different communities and acts as a business support infrastructure.
The Ethical Fashion Initiative provides the necessary technical expertise to support the running of the hubs and the coordination of work with informal micro-enterprises and communities of artisans. The Ethical Fashion Initiative supports the set up and management of production and export logistics, the implementation of appropriate quality control systems and the organisation of workshops taught by industry professionals to build the capacities of artisans. The initiative also assists in identifying markets and carrying out relevant product development. We embrace artisans with traditional skills and also welcome those with no artisanal skills, who learn life-changing skills working with us.
We encourage our partners to engage in long-term collaborations with our artisan network to ensure the sustainability of the work. We are proud of our partnerships with many brands including: Carmina Campus, Chan Luu, Karen Walker, Mimco, Osklen, sass & bide, Stella McCartney, Vivienne Westwood and United Arrows.
“We’re not involved to make charity T-shirts. Working in Africa is good for business because you cannot get that kind of product from anywhere else in the world.” – Christopher di Pietro, Marketing & Merchandising Director, Vivienne Westwood.
The Ethical Fashion Initiative began its work in 2009. In 2015 our first project hub based in Kenya was taken over and bought by a group of Kenyan investors, Amalgamated Chama Limited. The new entity is now called Ethical Fashion Artisans EPZ Limited. This investment is representative of the Initiative’s goal in ensuring the long-term sustainability of its work, so that the initiative’s involvement will continue benefiting the communities even once it is no longer present.
We nurture traditional skills and provide training in:
The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a professional and organised team working across different departments and spread across several different countries. The Ethical Fashion Initiative succeeds at its work because:
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Ethical Fashion Initiative
International Trade Centre
54-56, Rue de Montbrillant
1202 Geneva, Switzerland