A friend of mine tipped me off that Bono’s wife is launching a clothing line just in time for the World Cup. He mentioned that the eco-friendly line would be available at a high end retailer, and that proceeds would go to benefit children in Africa. I’d never heard anything about that. I did some further internet scouring and sure enough, Ali Hewson, wife of Bono (real name: Paul Hewson) is set to launch Edun. Well, rather, relaunch it.
Turns out, Hewson, Bono and designer Rogan Gregory launched the line back around 2005, investing millions of their own money. The idea was for Edun to be the epitome of an ethically and environmentally conscious clothing line, with organic materials produced in Africa, provision of employment opportunities for local workers, and proceeds directly benefiting local communities. However, logistical problems began to hinder the progress of the line. In an interview with the UK publication The Independent, Hewson admitted that the “mission over shadowed the product….We had a very pure idea that we wanted to work in Africa. So we brought our designers [to Africa] and said, “This is what you have to work with- they can do that stitch, they can use that material, and you can’t have that button because we cant get it from here to there in time..’ So we really limited the designers.”
She also admits, “We just didn’t pay enough attention to the aesthetic.” In 2007, it was reported that Edun had $3 million in outstanding bank loans, and owed its shareholders $7.9 million. Really though, all of that is M&M’s and Skittles to Bono, since U2 is one of the most successful bands on the planet. But the bottom line is….well, they were not meeting their bottom line. The company was not turning a profit.
Last year, deus-ex-machina luxury goods conglomerate LVMH agreed to take a 49% stake in Edun. Never heard of LVMH? Sure you have, if you’ve heard of brands like, Louis Vuitton, Dior, De Beers, Sephora, Tag Heuer, Benefit Cosmetics, Marc Jacobs, Fendi, Moet, and Hennessy. So with this luxury powerhouse behind them, surely we should be hearing more about Edun in the time to come. Speaking of Sephora, looks like Edun is foraying into World Cup makeup as well:
Beginning this week, you can buy a pink zebra tee of your very own for $60 at Barneys New York. And if you are in New York, it appears that Barneys is hosting the Edun relaunching event on Wednesday, June 9th from 5-7 pm on the Women’s 8th floor. If you get a chance to go, send me back a report!
What do you all think of Edun? What do you think of Bono and his wife entering the sustainable fashion world.
I seem to be doing a lot of posts about fashion, clothing and Africa recently. Reading about Edun brought me back to previous posts I have done about #1millionshirts, another enterprise where the big idea or mission overshadowed the actual products or logistics. Is this particularly symptomatic of ethical clothing initiatives that attempt to “help” Africa? Does a lack of infrastructure also affect fashion? Does anyone know of successful sustainable fashion enterprises that have been created with Africa in mind? And…last but not least….
Where my African designers at? 🙂
(Further Reading: “Mrs. Bono on How Fashion Can Save the World” Times Online, May 2010)