CARCEL – Not Another Goodwill Story

CARCEL is an exciting project whose aim is to give women a new opportunity to provide for themselves and break the spiral of poverty.

In an effort to support development where the best and most sustainable materials meet the highest rate of poverty-related crime for women, CARCEL brings a sustainable business model for incarcerated women in places like Cusco in Peru.

The result is a 100% timeless quality Scandinavian design that also creates a huge social impact.

CARCEL shared some insights with AMH about the inspiration behind their latest collection, and where they are heading next:

AMH: Tell us more about the inspiration behind your latest collection: 

CARCEL: Our designs are rooted in the Scandinavian design traditions where functionality and attention to details are balanced with high quality and clean lines. To this, we try to add a bit of coolness and sporty references to our classic knitwear. In fact, we don’t work with any fixed collections or seasons. We do limited drops of products when the design process and production allows it. This way, we ensure less pressure on our production, we generate no overstock and our product will therefore never lose value.

Our styles are produced by women in prison in Cusco, Peru and they are made from 100% baby alpaca wool.

AMH: In which ways does this project empower women in prison?

CARCEL: As a dogma, we go where we can create the greatest social impact and work with the best, natural and locally-sourced materials. In Peru, women are mainly in prison due to poverty-related crime and get sentenced up to 15 years. We want to turn this lost-time into new skills and good wages, which makes it possible for the women to support the families, save up for a crime-free beginning and ultimately break the cycle of poverty.

Another fact is, that we want to give the women dignity through the work they do, this is also done by giving them some daily routines and a great integrity in the work. The women work as a team, they learn from each other and build strong relations with the work they are doing. Our team of women in Peru is really passionate about being a part of Carcel.

AMH: Why did you choose Peru and where are you heading for the next projects?

CARCEL: We started mapping the world with locations that matched our dogmas. After visiting a lot of different prisons, we decided on the women’s prison in Cusco. Peru has some of the best alpaca wool in the world and it is locally sourced, which is one of our criteria. This combined with the high rates of poverty-related crimes, which allow us to create a great social impact for the women.

We are currently looking into the possibilities of expanding to Thailand. We are going to set up production inside a women’s prison in Thailand and work with silk as a locally sourced material.

AMH: How does the place where you work influence in the design?

CARCEL: Peru has a long tradition of knitwear and the women that we work with has a natural talent for knitting. In the prison, we both make luxurious hand knitted styles and styles on analogue knitting machines.

The styles, of course, have to pass our QC but we are not afraid of the small differences, these are just a natural part of our production set up. Each of our styles carries the name of the women who made it – this level of transparency is a key factor for us.

Here are AMH picks from these stunning designs created by CARCEL in Peru.

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Crew knit in mustard yellow.
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La Bomba a mano, a chunky hand knit, one of AMH favorites.
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Milano in tennis blue.
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RIB10 in black, made in prison with 100% Peruvian baby alpaca.

Hope you enjoyed it. Visit CARCELhere.

Photo credits: CARCEL

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