NY Fashion Week: At Home with Ali Hewson's 100% African EDUN Collection

ali hewson photo

Me with my eco-rockin' style icon, Ali Hewson!

Though I consider it my favorite fashion line, I own only one EDUN t-shirt. It's black and awesome and it has a bad-ass tiger print on it. Whenever I wear it, I feel sexy, cool and totally satisfied that the proceeds didn't fund a sweat shop in China, but rather, helped drive sustainable employment in sub-Saharan Africa.

You can imagine how stoked I was then, when I had the chance to go to EDUN's Spring/Summer 2009 preview party and talk to creator, Ali Hewson, the totally sweet and down-to-earth rock mama who started the socially conscious company with her husband Bono back in 2005. Hewson told me a little bit about EDUN's sister label, EDUN LIVE, which sells high volume organic, blank t-shirts to brands like Aveda, Hard Rock Café, Coldplay and of course, U2. The t-shirts are 100% African, meaning that each step of the way—from the spinning of the cotton all the way to the manufacturer—African communities working for the EDUN LIVE brand are being directly benefited. Hewson said that her goal with the EDUN LIVE brand is "to create sustainable trade" to prove to businesses that it's possible to "work in a nation like Africa and still make a profit—ethically and responsibly."

When I asked Hewson about why there are so few business models like hers amidst all the hustle and bustle of Fashion Week she told me that it's "really up to the consumer to demand it" and that it's "really important that the clothes are beautiful." I'd have to agree. Even though there are at least a handful of eco-fashion brands on the NY Fashion Week scene, few have yet to charm me as much as EDUN.

Their Spring/Summer 2009 collection is a sultry mix of tribal-inspired pieces, no doubt an homage to the company's "grow-to-sow" African roots. Hewson's mission to bring ethical trade from richer parts of the world to third world Africa is reflected in the collection's fusion of earthy, exotic tribal prints and colors (think: Dark Indigo Blue, Ox Blood, Jungle Green and Raw Steel Grey) and romantic French tailoring.

Flipping through the sneak peek look book, I picked out a few of my favorite pieces like this coral dress with edgy shoulder cut detailing. (I would definitely feel like a green goddess in this!)

edun dress photo

And this cozy-yet-sexy looking frock made from organic cotton and Tencel, a material made from wood pulp

edun dress photo

On a weekend, I could easily see myself rocking this organic cotton lioness tee with a pair of Sian straight-leg jeans in a Serengeti wash.

edun organic tee photo

And if I were a guy

I'd totally be all over the organic tees with African inspired iconography and Charles Darwin-like graphics.

edun organic tee photo

edun organic tee photo

Paired with a pair of classic straight-leg Meteor denim jeans in Jet Black.

So back to why I only have one EDUN t-shirt? For one, I haven't yet figured out a way to turn from rags to riches and two, well I'd like to think that I live by Ali's little piece of advice: "Buy less but buy well."

The greenest thing I can do is wait until I actually need something. When I do, I'll happily turn to EDUN.

Find EDUN's full collection at www.edunonline.com. Prices range from $60-$400.

More on Eco-Friendly Fashion at New York Fashion Week:
Bjork Would Love Hessnatur by Miguel Andover
Aveda Kicks the Cap Out of the Oceans
Be Eco Chic Campaign Goes Glam for New York Fashion Week
Fashion Brand Preen Goes Green Backstage and Beyond
Unique Designs Make a Splash at Eko-Laborative

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