By Diane Small
The Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) sounds very official and serious. After all, it is a flagship programme of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organisation. It should be staffed with a bland bureaucrats in brown suits, but nothing could be further from the truth: this is a chic fashion powerhouse.
The EFI is working hard to get the luxury fashion industry to partner with marginalised artisans in Africa and Haiti, to help create employment and develop skills whilst adding ethical and eco-friendly kudos to luxury brands. And don’t fret if your handbag isn’t made in France or Italy–the EFI ensures that the production of quality fashion goods lives up to the high European standards high-end consumers are used to, but these products are created under ethical and fair conditions, giving a boost to marginalised artisans rather than highly paid European specialists.
To illustrate their work, the EFI has recently paired with vegan designer Stella McCartney to create beautiful handmade accessories with Kenyan artisans specialised in screen-printing and tailoring. The video of the project really shows how Stella McCartney’s AW14 Made in Africa bags were made: in short, each item is made by human hands and the stories of each artisan are woven into every product. You can see the video below.
Stella McCartney started working with the EFI way back in 2011, and is renowned for its strong ethical and sustainable values – making her brand an ideal match for the Ethical Fashion Initiative’s mission of building a responsible fashion industry, and a key example for other luxury brands to follow.