Making the world a better place through fashion
Carcel Bag, the new darling of Instagramers
Only one year ago, two Danish designers, Louise Van Hauen and Veronica D’Souza, launched in Copenhagen a label that’s bringing hope and changing lives; Carcel, the brand of modern and minimalistic knitwear in the best Scandinavian design tradition.
So how is it that the fashion label is making such a difference in people’s lives?
Carcel’s first collection was produced in Cusco, Peru, by inmates of a female prison, using high-quality material; 100% baby alpaca wool locally sourced, to make the beautiful and super cozy sleek sweaters that they sell online.
The main cause of female criminality is poverty. Women in prisons are usually young, poor single-mothers with a low level of education, who were used as “mules” by the drug cartels. After spending years being bars, chances are they will have even fewer job opportunities than before. The Danish duo wants to break the cycle of poverty-crime through enabling incarcerated women to learn a new skill and provide for their families and save up for the future, not only while they’re serving time in prison but also once they’re out so that they won’t end up back into prison. Carcel, which is the Spanish word for jail, pays fair wages to ensure that each woman earns at least a base living wage compatible to what she’d earn outside the prison, and depending on her production quality, responsibility and competence, she can earn benefits too. On each piece of garment comes a label with the name of the women who produced it. The brand believes that investing in the future of these women is an investment in a better world.
Louise Van Hauen and Veronica D’Souza both lived in Kenya when they met. Van Hauen was working as a creative director at a bag company and had experience in production at Louis Vuitton. Because of her work in a social startup, D’Souza had to spend time in the local slums and she became then interested in the prison system, especially for women. She visited the women’s prisons in Nairobi and its shop where they sell what the inmates produce but she says that “ it felt like a waste of resources, they don’t have access to the local market or to proper wages.”
Together they began looking for places in the world with the highest number of women in prison and where they could also find high-quality products. Peru was one of these places where they could put in practice their business dream of producing high standard clothes while capacitating the inmates and transforming their harsh reality.
Thailand is the next step for Carcel. Louise Van Hauen and Veronica D’Souza intend to employ the women in prisons there and in three other countries at least in the next five years, to produce more clothes using local natural material and skills in a sustainable way, and make the world a better place, now talk about empowering women!
Check in our gallery some of their beautiful creations:
Photos via Carcel