BY ELI CHEP & EVE CHEGE
The Ethical Fashion Initiative ( E F I ) sounds very official and serious. After all, it is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization. It should be staffed with bland bureaucrats in brown suits, but nothing could be further from the truth: this is a chic fashion powerhouse.
E F I is working hard to get the luxury fashion industry to partner with marginalized artisans in Africa and Haiti, to help create employment and develop skills whilst adding ethical and eco-friendly kudos to luxury brands.
And don’t fret if your handbag isn’t made in France or Italy – E F I ensures production of quality fashion goods lives up to the high European standards high-end consumers are used to, but these products are created under ethical and fair conditions, giving a boost to marginalized artisans rather than highly paid European specialists.
To illustrate their work, E F I recently paired with vegan designer Stella McCartney to create beautiful handmade accessories with Kenyan artisans specialized in screen-printing and tailoring for her AW14 Made in Africa Collection. This made Stella McCartney an ideal match in joining forces with the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s mission of building a responsible fashion industry.
The new collection of Noemi totes bags features an oversized hound’s tooth pattern, a departure from the snake and feather prints of previous collections. Stella McCartney is renowned for its strong ethics and focus on sustainable values making the partnership with E F I a natural one.
The Stella McCartney and ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative partnership began in Kenya back in 2011 and ever since has seen the British label produce a variety of handmade accessories with Kenyan artisans. The collaboration has come a long way and for the 2014 A/W collection the brand renews its partnership with the ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative.
The video below of the project shot while on our fashion travel diaries actually shows a Kenyan fashion production story of how Stella McCartney’s AW14 Made in Africa bags were made: in short, each item is made by human hands and the stories of each artisan are woven into every product.
For more information, follow them on their social media channels and visit their website at http://www.ethicalfashioninitiative.org
Facebook – facebook.com/TheEthicalFashionInitiative
Twitter – twitter.com/_ethicalfashion
Youtube – youtube.com/user/Exportimpactforgood