Every week we feature a sustainable brand on our blog. This week's featured brand is Edun.
Ali Hewson launched Edun with her husband Bono in 2005, determined to “bring more trade into Africa”, after first visiting the continent in 1985, when she spent five weeks in Ethiopia witnessing the devastation of the recent famine first hand.
She quickly discovered that sustainable business practices are not an easy path to commercial success – in 2007, the brand had to be bailed out by shareholders, then dropped off the radar. But the brand didn't give up and managed to secure the confidence of luxury conglomerate LVMH in 2009 who took a 49 per cent stake in the company.
With additional capital, Hewson was able to hire Danielle Sherman as creative director in 2013, a designer whose CV includes stints at The Row and T by Alexander Wang. This move took Edun from what was primarily a jeans and T-shirt business to a fully fledged fashion brand with an emphasis on laid-back luxury sold in premium online retailers like Net-A-Porter and MatchesFashion.
Though the design team works out of a SoHo studio in New York city, 95 per cent of the collection is made in sub-Saharan Africa, with the other 5 per cent comprising leathers made in Italy and New York. They source their cotton from 10,000 farmers in Uganda, have two main factories in Madagascar and one in Kenya and special projects have seen them collaborating with jewelers in Niger and Tanzania.
All told, I think Hewson has accomplished her mission of bringing more trade to Africa through fashion. She's blazed a trail which others have followed – brands like Suno also do most of their production in Africa. This has a real impact of the lives of the people in these communities, and for that I am grateful.
Credit: Photo from Edun