Rendez-Vous with Simone Cipriani

Sustainability & Fashion: a different view

On April 19th, the Head and Founder of the Ethical Fashion Initiative, Mr Simone Cipriani, will come to Polimoda to speak to students and faculty alike on how the fashion industry can continue to grow and take more responsibility for humans and the environment at the same time.

The words ‘ethical’ and ‘sustainable’ often have less than positive connotations within the fashion world, as they often bring to mind unappealing design accompanied by a look of haughty disdain, reminding us we should all be doing better. Simone Cipriani’s approach, on the other hand, is not only an exception to this as he comes from the industry, but is also rooted in possibility: he sees how fashion can not only increase sales and simultaneously improve practices, but also alleviate poverty. This is through something he calls conscious capitalism.

Mr Cipriani’s understanding of the fashion industry comes from his years of experience working in the Italian shoe and leather industry, bringing a deep understanding of quality and production to his work with artisans all over the world. With the Ethical Fashion Initiative of the International Trade Centre, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization (WTO), Cipriani connects artisans in the developing world to fashion’s supply chain, involving those from Kenya, Ethiopia, Mali, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Papua New Guinea, Vanuatu, Afghanistan, Nepal and Jordan; and connecting them with brands including Brother Vellies, Karen Walker, MaXhosa by Laduma, Stella McCartney, United Arrows, Vivienne Westwood, Osklen, Edun and Faustine Steinmetz. Mr Cipriani has also worked to promote emerging African designers on an international level, and Made in Africa production with hubs for creative manufacturing and production in Ghana and Uganda, which use fair trade labour and ethical fashion practices.

Focusing on creative micro-enterprises, fair trade and equal employment – both inside and outside of the high fashion industry – Simone Cipriani is a true conscious leader with an approach to design and production that is rooted in one simple idea, responsibility.