Carcel knitwear is made by female inmates in a prison in Peru.


CARCEL GETS ROLLING: Having debuted during Copenhagen Fashion Week, Carcel, the Copenhagen start-up knitwear company, has already shipped its prison-made knitwear to countries.

Founder and chief executive officer Veronica D’Souza is relying on production in a Peruvian prison to try to transform poverty-related crime into fair wages, skills and hopes for a better future. The launch consisted of a crewknit sweater, Milano oversized cardigan and La Bomba A Mano — all of which are made of 100 percent baby alpaca wool. Taking a seasonless approach to fashion, the brand plans to drop new styles throughout the year, depending on production capacity.

The name, Carcel, means “prison” in Spanish and production is done in the women’s prison in Cusco, Peru. That location was chosen based on where Carcel felt it could make the greatest social impact and work with some of the world’s best natural materials. There are 13 women handling production at this point and recruiting will continue as production expands. Carcel starts with a training program based on the individual’s existing skills and experience. The items are solely sold on the company’s site with prices ranging from 120 euros to 1190 euros. “We have flexible production with room for different levels of experience.In Peru, especially in the area of Cusco, there is an influential culture of [craftsmanship,] which means that all of the women are born into a long tradition of knitting.” D’Souza said.

Shoppers will find on each item they buy the name of the woman who made it. In addition, the company shares the stories about the women in prison by sending consumers an image of the woman and her life story. “This is to create a stronger relation between the woman who made it and the woman who wears it. We believe in a high level of transparency, which is key in both our business model and in our communication strategy.” D’Souza said. “Furthermore, we also have a journey page on our online store, where we share more details about the women as well as pictures of them. They are all excited to be a part of the project.”

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