Empowering Africa Through Fashion: EDUN’s Grow to Sew

Goodlifer: Empowering Africa Through Fashion: EDUN's Grow to Sew

Launched in 2005 by husband and wife Bono and Ali Hewson, sustainably-minded fashion label EDUN has launched its first collection since being acquired by luxury group LVMH last year. The Pre-Fall Collection, created in honor of the 2010 World Cup in South Africa, introduces a Special Edition “Grow to Sew” African produced tee shirt series, featuring bold black and white graphics inspired by the vibrancy of the continent.

Goodlifer: Edun Grow to Sew

All proceeds will go to the Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI) in Uganda, an organic farming program created by EDUN and the Wildlife Conservation Society that aims to build sustainable, organic farming communities and offer farmers a fair trade market for their cotton.

Goodlifer: Edun Grow to Sew

Since the LVMH acquisition, EDUN has parted ways with former designer Rogan Gregory and brought on a new creative director, Paris-based, Irish born Sharon Wauchob. Hewson says Edun took some time to “ramp up the team, get the new collection out and start fresh” after signing on with LVMH. Of the new menswear collection, she said she particularly likes the hemp suits and jackets for summer. “We’ve had some beautiful styles before but we’ve struggled with the fit. With the sourcing that we have now, the clothes are coming in fitting and just looking great.”

Goodlifer: Edun Grow to Sew

CCI have teamed up with Invisible Children to execute the program in Gulu, a district in Northern Uganda that is recovering from a violent Civil War, which lasted over 20 years. Almost two million people were displaced, tens of thousands were killed by the LRA and children were forced to fight in their army. It is estimated that more than 90% of the troops that make up the LRA were kidnapped children, leaving an entire generation who have never known peace. Things have calmed down over the past 2 years, and Northern Ugandans are slowly returning back to their land. Gulu is an area where agriculture once thrived, in particular, cotton growing. By joining the CCI program farmers are given the funding and tools necessary to get back on their feet by growing organic cotton.

Goodlifer: Edun Grow to Sew

A philanthropically fun part of the collection is the Kenya Kids Tees, bringing to life hand drawings made by children from the Bidii School in Kibera, Kenya. The designs feature interpretations of everyday life in Kenya as seen through the eyes of the children. One hundred percent of the proceeds from the sale of these tees will go back to the school.

EDUN's Kenya Kids Tees, featuring artwork designed by school children.

EDUN’s Kenya Kids Tees, featuring artwork designed by school children.

The designs feature interpretations of everyday life in Kenya as seen through the eyes of the children.

The designs feature interpretations of everyday life in Kenya as seen through the eyes of the children.

The project is done in collaboration with Made Africa, an independent charity that partners with various NGOs in Africa. They believe that by creating training and educational opportunities, they can build trade and ultimately help relieve poverty in Africa. The Bidii School, which the organization helped double the size of since 2009, is just one of their many projects, but Made Africa has provided everything from hot meals and vaccinations to reading materials and school supplies, in addition to overall financial support to keep it running.

EDUN's Pre-Fall Collection at Barneys featured muted earth tones and simple silhouettes.

EDUN’s Pre-Fall Collection at Barneys featured muted earth tones and simple silhouettes.

Pre-Fall Collection + Grow to Sew Tees.

Pre-Fall Collection + Grow to Sew Tees.

I attended the launch of the Pre-Fall collection and the Grow to Sew women’s collection at Barneys earlier tonight, where designers were on hand to customize T-shirts on the spot. Some turned out quite spectacular.

At the Barneys launch, one-the-spot customized Tees.

At the Barneys launch, one-the-spot customized Tees.

Ali Hewson, second from right, at the Grow to Sew launch.

Ali Hewson, second from right, at the Grow to Sew launch.

EDUN was founded on the premise of trade FOR aid as a means to create jobs and alleviate poverty. It’s a for-profit fashion company that aims to raise awareness of the possibilities in Africa, encourage the fashion community to do business there, and empower local workers who are able to earn a fair wage. The company is investing in the development of a community-based value chain in Uganda, beginning with organic cotton. It’s grown to be sewn to be shown.

Available on the soon-to-relaunch edun.com and at Barneys New York.

About author
A designer by trade, Johanna has always had a passion for storytelling. Born and raised in Sweden, she's lived and worked in Miami, Brooklyn and, currently, Ojai, CA. She started Goodlifer in 2008 to offer a positive outlook for the future and share great stories, discoveries, thoughts, tips and reflections around her idea of the Good Life. Johanna loves kale, wishes she had a greener thumb, and thinks everything is just a tad bit better with champagne (or green juice).
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