New York City, United States
|Ali Hewson (Co-founder)
Julien Labat (Chief executive)
Danielle Sherman (Creative director since April 2013)
Sharon Wauchob (Creative director 2009–2013)
Rogan Gregory (2005–2007)
|Products||Clothing, footwear, handbags|
EDUN is a fashion brand founded by Ali Hewson and Bono in 2005 to promote trade in Africa by sourcing production throughout the continent. In 2009 EDUN became part of the LVMH group.
Danielle Sherman was named Creative Director in April 2013. Her first collection debuted during NY Fashion Week, September 2013. The collection includes a range of ready-to-wear, handbags and accessories.
In 2005, Hewson and Bono founded the Edun label ("nude" spelled backwards, to suggest both "natural" and the Garden of Eden). It was intended to help bring about positive change in Africa through a fair trade-based relationship rather than by direct aid. Hewson said they wanted "to show that you can make a for-profit business where everybody in the chain is treated well."
Since it was launched, Edun has sourced globally from various countries both in and out of Africa, including Peru, Tunisia, Tanzania, Kenya, Madagascar, Morocco, Uganda and China. The company now produces 85% of its collection in Africa.
Edun struggled as a business, and Ali Hewson later admitted that she and Bono had incorrectly focused on the mission rather than the product, which led to their failings. She also admitted that this led to a fall in quality, which was not expected from a fashion brand. With their African suppliers, Edun faced problems with the quality and delivery times of the goods, and causing most of the stores to drop it. It lost €9.7 million in 2007 and did still worse in 2008, by the end of which it had some €8.7 million in debts.
The New York City and Dublin based company ran up against the limitations of Africa manufacturing. Hewson said that she considered ending the company; she and her husband consulted with friends, one of them was the Columbia University economist Jeffrey Sachs, who told them to go on with the project.
The couple put around $20 million of their own money into the brand and in May 2009 they sold 49% of the company to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton. The large luxury conglomerate, helped the company recruit new management and a new designer after the departure of Rogan Gregory two years before, and tried to convince Ali and Bono to expand their sourcing horizons. They initially resisted the idea of manufacturing in China, because it might run against the brand’s mission. LVMH Inc. chief executive Mark Weber confirmed the account and added in a statement: "While this business is small today, we believe it can grow in size by building on a noble idea." Following LVMH's investment in the brand, EDUN appointed a new creative director, Sharon Wauchob.
At the same year Ali Hewson and Bono appeared wearing EDUN in a Louis Vuitton campaign, shot by photographer Annie Leibovitz in Africa. In season 2010 Edun brought back the focus to the runaway, which was critical for their new chief executive, Janice Sullivan, former president of Liz Clairbone Inc.’ DKNY Jeans division. Edun's new designer, Ms. Wauchob, trained at Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design in London.
By March 2011, the company had 8 factories in Africa 37% of the collection in September 2011 was produced in Africa. This number was expected to increase to 40% by 2013, according to Hewson.
In April 2013 Danielle Sherman became the creative director for the brand and debuted her first collection SS14 during New York Fashion September 2013. Sherman has been with Alexander Wang since 2008, most recently as design director of the men's and women's T by Alexander Wang lines. Earlier, she cofounded The Row with Ashley and Mary-Kate Olsen from 2005 to 2007. "Coming from her success with two well-respected brands, Danielle brings her experience and strong design sensibility to EDUN," said Ali Hewson, who founded the brand with her husband, U2 front man Bono, in 2005. "Bono and I are impressed by her creativity and believe her unique approach and vision will help grow the brand." The collection will launch in stores such as Barneys, Colette, Liberty, United Arrows and Beams. Sherman was quoted as in a US Vogue feature (December 2013) documenting her first trip to Africa saying, "Matching the design mission and the ethical one is an exciting challenge." Under her direction 85% of the collection will be manufactured in Sub-Saharan Africa. "The appointment of Danielle as full-time creative director marks a step-change in the development of Edun as a brand of fashion and meaning," said Antonio Belloni, managing director at LVMH and a member of Edun's board.
In 2008, Edun established the Conservation Cotton Initiative Uganda (CCIU), which provides funding, training and enterprise support to cotton farmers to help build sustainable businesses in Northern Uganda.
In 2007, Edun launched the division Edun Live, a tee-shirt business which is 100% grown and sewn in Africa.
In January 2012, Italian fashion entrepreneur and "jeans genius" Renzo Rosso of the Diesel group, Hewson and Bono travelled to north Uganda, where EDUN's Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI) is based, and to Dioro in Mali, which is house of the Only The Brave Foundation Millennium Village, a project of the Earth Institute at Columbia University, the United Nations Development Programme, the Millennium Promise, and Renzo Rosso. This African journey encouraged them to join their forces for a new Diesel+Edun label that will be made entirely in Africa to generate sustainable development and raise awareness of the creative opportunities in the continent.
Born in Africa, the first Diesel and Edun collection, was launched on 27 February 2013. The collection, completely made in Africa from cotton produced and processed by the Conservation Cotton Initiative (CCI), is inspired by the African creative spirit, reinterpreting the four-pocket jeans of the 1970s, which were popular on the streets of South Africa. Malian textile prints are applied along the denim and across the jersey . On 3 March 2013, DIESEL+EDUN feted its new collection at the Gaité Lyrique theatre in Paris for the Paris Fashion Week. On 12 April 2013, Bono cohosted a party at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival to throw the Studio Africa project on the first official night of the 2013 festival. Studio Africa, a project started in 2013 by DIESEL+EDUN, is as an effort to spotlight fashion, music, and other arts from the continent. The campaign features nine artists in fashion, film, music, literature, and photography, including Tanzanian beauty queen and fashion model Flaviana Matata, Senegalese actor Sy Alassane, Ivoirian fashion designer Laurence Chauvin-Buthaud, Congolese musician Baloji, Moroccan writer Abdellah Taïa, and South Africa photography collective I See a Different You.
By 2010, most of the company's fashion line manufacturing was in China, while simpler garments were still African-made. This gave some negative publicity to the brand. Hewson said that business realities compelled this action, but that over time she hoped more work could be done in Africa. Since its founding in 2007, Edun Live has produced 700,000 African made t-shirts. Hewson calls this venture 100 percent African grow-to-sew initiative. Hewson said in March 2011, "There is a misconception that we moved business out of Africa. We didn’t. We’re now working in eight factories in Africa whereas this time last year we were in two. We’ve actually grown our Edun business in Africa and by 2013, it will be up to 40%". The company now produces 85% of its collection in Africa.