Artisan working on the production of Made in Kenya Marni x Isetan bags. © Tahir Carl Karmali

ETHICAL MANUFACTURING

The Ethical Fashion Initiative’s work demonstrates that building a responsible fashion industry is possible and that ethical fashion can provide a route out of poverty. The Ethical Fashion Initiative is dedicated to helping disadvantaged micro-artisans change their lives. Through our network, fashion brands can manufacture ethical fashion items produced by some of the most talented artisans in the world. This collaboration creates much needed employment for some of the poorest people in the world, with the benefits extending to entire communities.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative has established a network of self-managed, artisanal groups that work together making up an extended ‘multi-craft workshop’, which sprawls across a vast geographical area. This enables fashion brands to design, produce and sell ethically manufactured slow fashion goods handmade by artisans.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative aims to shake up the fashion industry and raise awareness on responsible fashion issues both within the industry and with consumers.

Cotton Yarn Burkina Faso © ITC Ethical Fashion Initiative (8)

SKILLS

Everywhere it works, the Ethical Fashion Initiative has access to the most talented craftspeople with artisanal skills linking back to their cultural heritage. This inspires fashion designers from around the world and gives fashion brands a unique opportunity to produce authentic ethical fashion goods.

PRODUCTS

Top fashion brands have partnered with the Ethical Fashion Initiative to manufacture high quality, desirable ethical fashion products, while simultaneously empowering micro-artisans through access to gainful employment, knowledge and skills. Our fashion partners embark on a journey of creative collaborations with artisans to ethically manufacture bags, keyrings, fabric, jewellery and shoes.

BUSINESS MODEL

The Ethical Fashion Initiative’s business model connects micro-communities of artisans from the developing world to global fashion houses through a network of hubs in Nairobi, Ouagadougou and Port-au-Prince. The concept of responsible and slow fashion underpins the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s business model.

Based on artisanal manufacturing, this model enables micro-artisans to produce directly for brands that distribute products worldwide. Product development is done in collaboration with fashion brands. This ensures that designs are tailored to the capabilities and craftsmanship of the micro-artisans and that there is a global market for the final product.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative supports artisanal manufacturing in the informal sector. To do this, it has created a business support infrastructure based around centralised production hubs. This means numerous communities can participate in production, with the final product assembled, controlled for quality and shipped from the hub.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative’s business model marks a radical departure from previous development interventions with the informal sector as we facilitate a direct link with the fashion industry. For the first time, micro-artisans can operate as an integral part of the international value chain because the production of ethical fashion goods responds to market demand. Furthermore, the initiative is managed by a team that has relevant experience in development and deep knowledge of the global fashion business.

In parallel to this, the Ethical Fashion Initiative has developed an Impact Assessment method to monitor and evaluate the effect and impact of responsible fashion orders on the lives of artisans.