Being one of the biggest rock stars on the planet is a dream coveted by countless people and Paul Hewson – otherwise known as Bono – has made it his reality along with his U2 bandmates for the past several decades. With a treasure trove of Grammy awards to their credit (not to mention induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame), you’d expect down time to consist of, well, catching up on a few books, showing Guitar Hero who’s really boss and maybe even cultivating an organic garden like fellow rock God Sting, but for the 50 year old Irish-born front man, fashion has been his focus.
Ever heard of the eco-label Edun? Bono and his wife of 28 years, Ali Hewson, launched the organic, sustainable, socially conscious brand as a way to facilitate business and encourage trade in sub-Saharan African while lifting its residents out of poverty. A natural extension of the singer’s ongoing humanitarian commitment to Africa, despite the seeming purity of the mission and their dedication/personal investment in the company, Edun had to be resuscitated with a hefty infusion of cash just last year. Blame it on the recession and the unfortunate “limitations of African manufacturing” (such as lack of attention to necessary design features).
Now, in move that has prompted countless news outlets roll their eyes, Bono and Ali have been forced to shift 70% of Edun’s production over to Asia, a scant 15% to Africa (except for their t-shirts, 100% of which are still manufactured in Africa) and all remaining products courtesy of Peru. That in addition to shifting part of Edun’s headquarters to the Netherlands in an effort to alleviate the burden of taxes the Hewsons must pay in Ireland. Seems like times are tough, even for rock stars and their wives.
Before you’re tempted to join the haters camp, it’s worth mentioning that the power couple is supporting Al Gore’s The Climate Project by appearing in a new commercial for Louis Vuitton, which happens to have a 49% stake in Edun. Bono and Ali – who are sporting sustainable Edun threads in the Annie Leibovitz campaign – donated their fee to Chernobyl Children International and Technoserve in Africa for the Conservation Cotton Initiative (which supports farmers in Northern Uganda). All proceeds from the sale of the hand-crafted fair-trade charms dangling from the new Vuitton Keepall 45 bag, inscribed with the words ‘Every journey begins in Africa’ (along with a portion of the profits from the tote), will benefit the Conservation Cotton Initiative.