Indeed, the now seven-year-old business fielded a flurry of criticism for what many saw as a betrayal of its original mission: to rescue apparel manufacturing in sub-Saharan Africa. Whether as a result of the backlash, its expanded financial clout, or a genuine desire to make things right, only eight of the 37 looks don’t include some component to be produced in Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, or Morocco. EDUN is working to increase African manufacturing exponentially with each passing season, Hewson tells Ecouterre backstage. “As much as we can in a way that makes sense,” she adds.
Only eight of the 37 looks don’t include some component that was to be produced on the continent.
EDUN may have debuted in 2005, but Hewson and designer Sharon Wauchob view the company as a pupa that is only just emerging from its cocoon. (EDUN’s first ad campaign, launching in all the major fashion titles next month, features six different species of African butterfly fluttering amiably around a pair of models—one African-American and one Caucasian—locked in an embrace.)
Whatever EDUN’s current tack, it’s working. The company is posting double-digit growth each season, says Hewson. It’s also taking its name global, including a distribution agreement with Itochu in Japan, a pop-up shop at Le Bon Marché in Paris at the end of March, and an expanded presence in the United States through Bloomingdale’s and Neiman Marcus this spring.
Call it the butterfly effect. “We’re just started to really grow and blossm as a company,” Hewson adds.