Projects and partnerships
UN’s Ethical Fashion Initiative
We are a proud member of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, a Public Private Partnership between a UN program (the International Trade Centre), social enterprises, and industry partners.
Artisan Fashion is EFI’s first enterprise in Africa. Together, we manage an international supply chain of social enterprises that coordinate African artisans in production for luxury brands worldwide.
In 2021: we strengthen our partnership with the EFI through a collaboration with La Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana in the co-creation of an Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Due Diligence System.
Artisan Fashion is the first producer in Africa to adopt this ESG Due Diligence System. By working with us, brands are welcomed into the EFI network whereby they have the opportunity to better achieve their ESG goals and be a part of sustainable conversations for the future.
Simone Cipriani – Founder and Head of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, and Robin MacAndrew – Managing Director of Artisan Fashion, visiting the Babadogo slum of Nairobi, where our journey started, with the European Commissioner
School of Design of the Politecnico di Milano University
In 2022, Artisan Fashion and the School of Design of the Politecnico di Milano University established a partnership aimed at implementing quality teaching and improving the standards of cultural and professional education for students.
The collaboration aims to increase the students’ awareness on international cooperation and sustainable development, and the role of fashion in emerging economies as a catalyst for economic opportunities and economic development – especially for women.
For the Academic Year 2022/2023, the specific purpose was to: give students scientific and professional knowledge in designing sustainable fashion products within cooperation projects, with a specific attention to the Kenyan territory and the huge problem of “clothing waste”. During the course the students are asked to design a capsule collection using repurposed and upcycled raw materials.
Artisan Fashion selects the best projects and offers the students an internship in Kenya for a subsequent training phase and enhancement of the concept developed during the course.
Photo credit: Lab Immagine – Dipartimento di Design – Politecnico di Milano
As part of our mission, we emphasise the potential and importance of capacity-building frameworks for trade opportunities on behalf of marginalised communities. Through the enhancement of artisanal creativity and production capacity, Artisan Fashion creates employment opportunities and economic development.
However, capacity building in and of itself doesn’t support communities in the long term. That is why we link it with durable access to the international market for the creation of jobs that lift marginalised communities out of poverty.
Our network consists of 50 communities and 2,693 artisans, 95% of which are women, and – in 2022 alone – we onboarded 12 new communities. Throughout our constantly growing network of communities, we provide over 7,500 hours of training per year to offer: education and life-long learning, support women and marginalised communities socio-strengthening, and push organisational growth and trade development.
Members of the Satubo Women’s beading group formed by the union between three iconic tribes from the Kenyan highlands: SAmburu, TUrkana and BOrana
Violet Njoki, Community Officer at Artisan Fashion, at Shalom Pride Women Group in Kitui, Kenya
Our onboarding process includes several capacity building activities aimed not only at improving tecnical skills but also at empowering all community members.
We ensure that our Code of Conduct is respected and that artisans are paid a fair wage; and we provide several training sessions from product developments to production.
We like to allocate the production of each order among different communities to build capacity while spreading social impact. We establish long-term partnerships with our artisan partners and we continue to support them as they: grow their skills, build schools for their children, and construct bigger workshops!
As part of the UN’s Ethical Fashion Initiative Designer Accelerator programme, we organise a full schedule of immersive workshops covering all aspects of production.
Our training is designed to guide the brands through the entire production journey as they build samples for their upcoming collections. The designers begin the training with the foundations: getting to know the style and anatomy of the product they are designing, creating a detailed specifications sheet, and how to effectively communicate their product ideas.
In addition to site visits to cloth mills and tanneries, the workshop covers additional topics such as design with cost considerations and courses on incorporating sustainable practices in production.
The training wraps up with the designers completing their very own prototypes for upcoming collections.
Ohiri Fall-Winter 2022 collection realised in collaboration with our skilled metalworkers artisans