Style and Substance
Socially conscious, edgy, eco friendly, rock n roll fashion. Sounds like a tall order but somehow the brand, EDUN pulls it off with grace, style and a strong commitment to producing ethical apparel.
The company was founded in Spring of 2005 by Ali Hewson and her husband, Bono of U2. Their mission was founded on the principles of raising awareness and developing trade with Africa. Their clothing is produced in African countries where extreme poverty is abundant. By developing trade opportunities they are essentially increasing the income of the people thus reducing poverty levels. In 2009, the luxury group, LVMH bought a 49% stake in the company and also appointed Sharon Wauchob as the brands creative director.
FashionSalade got the honor to chat with EDUN founder and extraordinary visionary, Ali Hewson to learn more about the ethos behind the brand, what’s on their horizon and the challenges of being at the helm of a power house, eco-conscious company that creates beautiful clothes while managing to always maintain their integrity.
Edun’s Resort Collection:
Edun S/S 2012
For its Spring/Summer 2010 Collection, Edun incorporated various unique collaborations to accentuate its soft fabrics and gorgeous designs while also maintaining its sustainable image. For its leather trimmed fitted dress and skirt, Kenyan artists under the moniker, The Crochet Sisters, used their exquisite techniques. Malian and French textile designer and artist, Aboubakar Foufana, who specializes in unique dyeing techniques using natural indigo dyes also contributed to the production of the Indigo dyed drawstring pant and Jersey braided indigo dyed scarves. Along with these distinctive collaborations, Edun also incorporates awareness and support for African foundations Invisble Children, H.E.A.L.S and ICCU.
Ali Hewson co-founded Edun, the for-profit fashion brand, with her musician and activist husband, Bono, in 2005. The brand, inspired by the couple’s lifelong love for the African continent, aims to promote trade and awareness for underdeveloped nations while maintaining a beautifully designed fashion brand with global appeal.
It was in 1985, at the age 24, Ali traveled to and worked in Ethiopia. There she witnessed first-hand the depth of poverty. Her experiences ignited a desire to work for better opportunities and progress within the country and countries with the same devastating socio-economic factors.
Along with Edun, Ali is actively involved in charitable projects in both her native country of Ireland and abroad. Through her work with the Chernobyl Children’s project, she frequently commutes from Dublin to Chernobyl, delivering aid to the local hospitals and helping those suffering from the ongoing social and physical effects of the nuclear disaster. In recognition of this work, she was awarded an honorary doctorate of Law by University College, Galway in 2002.
Other business endeavors include Nude, a natural range of skin care products, which she co-founded alongside Bryan Meehan in 2007.
Ali was born in Ireland in 1961 and attended Mount Temple School in North Dublin and has a bachelor’s in Sociology and Political Science from University College in Dublin (UCD). She lives in Dublin with her husband, Bono, and four children: two daughters, Jordan and Eve, and two sons, Elijah and John.
Tell us a little about your decision to create EDUN and the mission behind
AH: We wanted to do something to help increase African trade. Africa used to have a 6 percent of world trade in the ‘80s. Now, it has just 3 percent yet 12 percent of the world’s population. Just a 1 percent increase in Africa’s share of world trade is worth $246 billion to the continent, which is more than twice what it received in aid in 2009. As a result, we created Edun as a for-profit fashion brand that makes beautiful clothing whilst committed to developing trade with Africa and encouraging others within the fashion industry to do the same.
Edun’s Resort Collection
What impact or contribution do you believe EDUN has made in the global
AH: Ethical fashion has come a long way from when we first launched Edun. We focused our attention on the design of the clothes. Until then, the majority of “ethical” fashion did not necessarily look good although it was doing good. Edun is proving it is possible to both ‘look great’ and ‘feel great’ in your clothes.
How has EDUN evolved as a company since you launched in 2005?
AH: When we launched in 2005 we were primarily a jean and tee shirt brand. Now we have expanded the collection to also include a full range of products from skirts and dresses to a men’s market and outerwear. We have taken time to hone the brand and, as a result, the company has never been healthier. Since our partnership with LVMH, our sales have steadily increased worldwide, with nearly 300 points of sale globally. We have also had three successful runway shows in New York. The clothes are starting to speak for themselves.
Give us a hint at what we can expect to see in your Spring line?
AH: The collection has many beautiful floral and Yoruba print dresses in rich hues of pink and blue. We are also introducing a special series of African pieces that use natural indigo dyeing techniques from an artist in Mali.
Tell us a little bit about “EDUN Pioneers.”
AH: Edun launched the Fall/Winter 2011 men’s collection celebrating men who are making their mark on the world with style. From food to film to fashion, Edun Pioneers is a digital campaign shot by photographer Ben Watts, featuring 12 actors, artists, activists and entrepreneurs. Images and backstage interviews and videos are featured on edun.com/pioneers as well as partner sites and social media channels.
New Edun Projects:
The Edun Pioneers are a diverse group of 12 fashion-forward men including actors, artists, activists and entrepreneurs dedicated to making a difference. The latest project for the Pioneers officially launched on September 5 during New York Fashion Week. For the campaign, each Pioneer represents a cause of their choice. While photographed wearing the looks from Edun’s Fall/Winter 2011 Collection, they spread awareness and garner funds for each cause. Some affiliations include: TOMS shoes, Pencils for Promise, Falling Whistles, Grassroots Film and Warby Parker.
Edun has created a line of African-inspired tees, partnering with the Gulu, Uganda art program H.E.A.L.S (Health, Education, Arts, Literacy, Sports) for its Men’s Spring/Summer 2012 Collection. Each of the six t-shirts feature a drawing by a child involved in the H.E.A.L.S program. The drawing is representative of the child’s dreams for a positive future. The t-shirts also benefit other outlets of philanthropy because they are manufactured with cotton from the Conservation Cotton Initiative Uganda (CCIU), a program established by Edun and Invisible Children in 2008, which helps build sustainable farming communities in Uganda. Edun will split 100% of the t-shirt profits between H.E.A.L.S and Invisible Children.
Edun’s poem scarf is a beautiful 100% African cotton scarf detailed with script of a poem by German poet, Rainer Maria Rilke. Throughout October, all proceeds from the sale of the scarf will be donated to Concern Worldwide US for Horn of Africa drought relief efforts.
By: Jen Abrams