Ethical Fashion Initiative artisans in Kenya © ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative


The Ethical Fashion Initiative connects artisans from the developing world to the international value chain of fashion. In doing so, the Ethical Fashion Initiative harnesses fashion as a vehicle for development. Artisans can change their lives for the better by manufacturing luxury value-added ethical fashion products for top fashion designers.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a strong supporter of the African fashion industry’s potential for growth. The Ethical Fashion Initiative works with the rising generation of fashion talent from Africa and encourages the forging of ethical, sustainable and creative collaborations with artisans from the continent.

Working with top fashion houses and the growing African fashion brands, the Ethical Fashion Initiative is actively involved in and encourages the building of a more ethical and responsible fashion industry.

As a United Nations initiative, all our work is evaluated through an Impact Assessment tool to ensure that the Ethical Fashion Initiative project continues to bring positive impact and tangible results to the communities it works with.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative was founded by Simone Cipriani in 2009 and is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization.


In all things people need to come first.

As implied by our name, Ethics are at the heart of what we do and it should be at the heart of all industries and organisations.

People first. Fair supply chain. Living wages. Dignified working conditions. This is what the Ethical Fashion Initiative stands for. The Ethical Fashion Initiative is against any form of labour exploitation.

As a creative industry, fashion should be about vision and not greed. We all need to manage our handprint and our footprint. In other words, we need to act in a responsible & sustainable manner towards people and the environment.

The future of fashion is about sustainability and about products that are beautiful on the inside and outside. This is why we believe in artisans, people who take pride in their work and put their heart & soul in it. Artisans are the key to a fashion industry that has ethics and aesthetics. Sweatshops and workers trapped in an endless cycle of creating cheap fast-fashion is not true fashion.

The Osklen team giving a horn workshop to artisans in Haiti © Marie Arago





Simone Cipriani is the founder and head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint United Nations and World Trade Organization.

After gaining experience working in the leather industry in Italy, Vietnam, India, Indonesia, China, Tunisia and Morocco, Simone Cipriani then relocated to Ethiopia working for UNIDO to set up service centers for the local leather industry. Meeting and working with micro-producers Simone Cipriani saw an opportunity to connect skilled artisans with the fashion industry for mutual benefit, which inspired him to develop the idea for the Ethical Fashion Initiative.

In 2009, Simone Cipriani joined the International Trade Centre where he founded the Ethical Fashion Initiative. Simone Cipriani began the project by developing a cooperative in the slum of Korogocho in Kenya with a group of micro-producers production hub in Kenya with the guidance of the visionary Gino Filippini. Gradually the project has expanded to Burkina Faso, Mali, Ghana, Haiti, West Bank, Ethiopia and Cambodia. Today, through his work at the Ethical Fashion Initiative, Simone Cipriani has become a key responsible fashion spokesperson at the forefront of the growing global movement for ethical supply chains in the fashion industry.

Simone Cipriani with Suzy Menkes bags © ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative

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