The Italian label unveiled a capsule collection of nine styles for spring ’20 that uses fabrics woven by women in Burkina Faso, Africa — an area known for its artisanal weaving and one of the biggest producers of African cotton.
The capsule was developed with the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI),which promotes sustainable fashion and the work of communities from developing countries by connecting big fashion names with local entities. EFI is a program of the International Trade Center, a joint agency of the United Nations and World Trade Organization. It has worked with companies big and small, from Adidas to luxury designer Aurora James.
For Arianna Casadei, a third-generation member of the footwear family, the chance to empower female weavers in Burkina Faso was particularly meaningful. “As a woman, I’m standing here being able to do what I want to do. I am grateful to not only my family, but the people who have been working in our factory through the years,” she said, recalling her grandparents’ stories about the early days of Casadei. “I hope some of these women will be able to feel the same emotion for what they’re doing.”
EFI sets up social enterprises that manage production, training and logistics for companies — and works with the brand through the whole process. The goal is to give the women weavers autonomy and help establish partnerships with brands so that they can thrive after the initial project is complete.
Each style in the capsule collection, which can be purchased by request online, features a burkinabé fabric, customized insoles and a special heel featuring gold, mosaic and bark finishings.
Veteran designer Cesare Casadei credited his daughter with getting the project off the ground. “She said, ‘We need to do this,'” he recalled. I said, ‘What is the material? Show me the fabric and I’ll see what’s possible to do.’ The first prototype was interesting, but the final one was exactly what we wanted.”