Q&A with Carcel

Sustainable Danish brand Carcel started in order to have a positive impact on the world through fair wages for women in prison, using only the best materials and making classic designs, which their customers would want to wear again and again.

Eventhough they don’t do seasons Carcel always plans around fashion week with this season being the launchpad for their new silk

During Copenhagen Fashion Week the progressive label Carcel introduces their second line – silk – made inside the women’s prison in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Made out of 100% silk, the label states how it’s possible to combine timeless, solid pieces with a strongly considered production set-up.

Veronica d’Souza, CEO and founder, has recently joined Copenhagen Fashion Week’s new advisory board in order to develop a new direction for the fashion industry. 

What are your dreams for Copenhagen Fashion Week to become more sustainable?

My dream is that Copenhagen Fashion Week will be the center of a transformative and bold conversation, where the industry and people come together to celebrate and accelerate a beautiful and inclusive regenerative future of fashion. We only have a decade to stop the planet’s temperature from rising above 1.5 degrees and the Fashion industry will play a major part in that. We need to dare to be radical. 

You were recently appointed to the advisory board of sustainability within Copenhagen Fashion Week. What attracted you to accept the invitation?

Today, there is an increased focus on sustainable materials, which is a great start, but if we are to move the needle we need to go beyond that and invent a new non-seasonal model for retail that does not overproduce. Basically a new business model for the future of retail. That’s a humbling task but I think this board is a great place to start.

What is your ambition for Carcel?

To build a model for fashion of the 21st century that solves problems instead of creating them all throughout the supply chain while honoring the beauty of quality design.

How will you try to achieve that?We are a quite dogmatic company. We build our own production sites inside of women’s prisons in order to help them break with poverty. We only use 100% natural materials local to the country we produce in. Our first line is knitwear made by women in prison in Peru, of 100% baby alpaca wool. Our second range is launching now and produced Chiang Mai’s women’s prison in Thailand using only 100% silk. 

We don’t do seasons but sell limited batches and pre-orders launched throughout the year in order to produce what we sell and and vice versa.

Our take is that eliminating waste all throughout the chain is not only planet friendly, but its also smart business as you don’t have deadstock and your products don’t lose value. We aim to create a brand that’s modern and cool without compromising on design, quality, people or planet. I

Louise creative director and partner:

Why is Carcel launch the silk during Copenhagen Fashion Week

Although we don’t do seasons, we still like to plan our launches around fashion week. People have their attention on fashion, there are a lot of industry people in town and there’s that lovely buzz and excitement in the air. Personally, I always loved fashion weeks, because you feel surrounded by a notion of taking fashion and design seriously, and the streets are booming with great style and a hectic energy that I enjoy.

Carcel is a very content rich label, so it makes sense for us to think of our presence during fashion week (and in general) beyond showing a product range. We love staying connected to our people – by showing our latest styles, boast about the talented women in prison or just by getting to know some of those we haven’t met before.

Who is the Carcel woman you design for?She’s urban and she knows her way around her style. Personality wise, she’s interesting but not noisy, open minded and youthful in spirit. She knows and understands how to dress, even though fashion might not be her occupation and she appreciates the right piece of clothing. Style wise she’s not a romantic, but more laidback and cool in an effortless way.

What was your approach to designing the silk collection?

I like to work with opposites in the design process; silk is a very feminine material, so we pair it with a more masculine cut. It’s within the contrasts that the magic happens.

Carcel sometimes gets labelled as a streetwear brand, and we’re really not. So introducing the silk collection will definitely underline our DNA, as we know it – clean, effortless, confident. Working with sleek silhouettes in soft materials has been very cool, because you can get away with doing a narrow fitted men’s trousers or a work wear inspired shirt, but because the material is silk, you can push the boundaries of the design and the references further. I always look to how a design fits the female body – is it flattering in the right places? We put a lot of effort into this part of the design process, but in a way so the clothes don’t look like it’s trying to hard. And it’s been amazing exploring a more feminine take on the Carcel look with skirts and narrow trousers. Also, adding embroidery has been wonderful – I was really ready to work with some new textures.

How is new silk collection intrinsic with the Carcel brand?

I am really looking forward to introducing a more nuanced image of the brand. We continue to mix casual or even downdressed shapes with refined material and detailing, but with the silk we can add some more formal pieces which i find quite elegant. Like with our denim-inspired jacket, I really loved the idea of handling this super refined silk material like a hard wearing denim, because to me, the higher the quality the more useful it should be

What is your own favourite piece?

“Personally, I have a soft spot for the trousers and are really looking forward to having an alternative to jeans. With jeans I often feel like I have to dress them up, but with the silk trousers, I have a really exclusive item that will work with most tops and still have me feeling feminine and well dressed.

The silk is launching January 30th at www.carcel.co — and their Silk Celebration Event is open to all during Copenhagen Fashion Week.