At last, a popular, affordable and well-known clothing brand has addressed the issues surrounding clothing factories and their failure to pay their workers the national living wage. The news has been inundated with recent reports of poorly treated factory workers, not just overseas, but also in the UK and as a result, consumers have been more interested than ever in where their clothes have come from, rather than buying and wearing clothes whilst being blissfully unaware how they were made, and in what conditions. It seems that major online retailer ASOS has picked up on the positive change in awareness and as a result has created the ‘Made in Kenya’ collection, a stylish, quirky and affordable collection selling everything from playsuits to jumpers. And the best part? It has sustainable, fair and well-paying jobs at its core.
The collection is already a huge hit, with its first release in April and the second one due to drop this month. It uses beautiful, colourful designs and patterns designed to reflect the vibrancy of Africa and the bright hues make their pieces the perfect choice for a summer wardrobe. Think flowy, floral maxi dresses, combined with co-ords of cute crop tops and wide legged culottes, chic wrap dresses, upcycled, ripped jeans and slogan ‘tees. It is the perfect mix of bold and daring patterns, combined with plain, yet chic wardrobe staples. You would be a fool to not include some of these pieces in your summer wardrobe, and with the money going to a fair and just cause, it’s basically guilt-free spending, right?!
The Made in Kenya collection was brought about by ASOS with the help of the SOKO organisation, which is a clothing factory in Kenya that provides valuable, safe skills sets (such as sewing ) to workers, as well as providing them with sustainable and safe jobs at the same time. Through the Made in Kenya collection, ASOS has been responsible for helping around 40 people find environmentally-friendly, safe and sustainable jobs and with more of the collection being introduced, they look set to increase on this figure. The ASOS sustainable fashion journey is developing daily, and that can only be a good thing. ASOS have in fact been working with SOKO since 2009 and it seems that all of the hard work is paying off. The first collection was a total success, so much so, that it sold out completely on the ASOS site. Since then, there have been two collections a year off the back of the ASOS/SOKO collaboration. The designs of the collections are designed in-house at ASOS HQ and then manufactured in Kenya – hence the name!
The great thing about the designs being drawn up in the UK and then sent over to Kenya means it gives the Kenyan manufacturers a chance to add a touch of their own culture into the design as well. And what’s more, the quirky designs have stories behind them. For example, in the most recent collection, local children were asked to create some doodles that are now featured on some of the clothing. A recent introduction of denim into the collection has also seen the companies work on upcycling deadstock garments, and then re-working them to add a little bit of a twist. Think ripped jeans with a patterned scarf attached – something a little different yet oh so wearable. The collection could literally take any direction when it comes to design as ASOS have stressed the collection is less about Kenyan influence in the actual design of the garments and more a celebration of their collaboration with SOKO and all things fair. So what are you waiting for?