CARCEL is a fashion company that dares to value craftsmanship and operates according to its own high standards. It designs are timeless and seasonless, made from natural materials that are local to its production centres. CARCEL owns its own machines and employs women in a Peruvian and Thai prison, overseeing its supply chain and production. There isn’t a detail too small to ignore.
Veronica d’Souza, CARCEL’s founder, believes the brand’s ‘slow fashion’ approach is what sets it apart. The days of ignoring workers’ realities and the climate crisis are over. New business models and ideas of beauty must curb overconsumption and overproduction.
CARCEL’s dedication to design, craftsmanship and quality is one of the many reasons Fritz Hansen was delighted to receive a call from the company in 2019, as it set out to plan its opening show at Copenhagen Fashion Week. The partnership was natural, given our shared values and dedication to design and craftsmanship.
‘CARCEL is a pioneering brand in the fashion space and aligned with our core values – extraordinary design and passion,’ says Line Blomqvist, Global PR and Communications Manager – Fritz Hansen. ‘Arne Jacobsen’s Ant™ chairs in pale yellow fit into their show concept and colour palette beautifully.’
A week before CARCEL’s opening show, Veronica spoke to Fritz Hansen about the company’s journey and what customers can continue to expect from the brand.
CARCEL’s garments are made by women in prison systems in Peru and Thailand. These women opt into the work voluntarily and are paid a fair wage, based on national standards. For some, income is an avenue to re-establish important ties to family in the outside world, helping to support their children and to plan for life after release. CARCEL has begun teaching women about savings and finance to encourage them to use their income wisely and establish priorities.
Every CARCEL piece has a label with the name of the woman who created the garment, another way the company hopes to connect customers to craftswomen. It’s a quiet reminder of the process, people and craftsmanship behind each piece of clothing.
Interestingly, consistency and quality across garments hasn’t been a problem, Veronica says. Employees are trained and given time to master a piece, so they aren’t switching between designs or responsible for only one part of a garment. Makers take ownership of and pride in their creations, signing each garment by name.
This way of doing business isn’t easy, but CARCEL is navigating the challenges with elegance.
*Photos from CARCEL's opening show, 'The Walk' at Copenhagen Fashion Week.