Label fashion line made in prison | Daily Express Malaysia

Label fashion line made in prison

Publication date: Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Provided by: BBC

Thomas Jacob said it would be cheaper to keep manufacturing out of prisons.

A nimble stooge of men who once made a living as pickpockets and robbers is given a new mission in Peru’s largest prison. By cutting, sewing and printing clothes, they can earn money to send to their families outside. The buzzing of sewing machines adds to the cacophony at the San Pedro de Lurigancho men’s prison in the center of Peru’s capital Lima.

The workshop employs about 30 prisoners, producing printed T-shirts and other clothing for Peruvian fashion brand Pieta. Because of the noise, the men are unable to speak without shouting. But they’re used to the noise. The prison houses 10,000 prisoners, although it was built for 2,000. Carlos Arcel, 51, makes sweaters from llama hair. With a pile of black fabric next to him, he moves the sewing machine so quickly that the fringe flutters. He can earn up to 400 sols (about $113) a week and sends the money to his family, including his daughter Igen.

“Working for Thomas made my heart happy,” he says.

Prisoners participating in this scheme at San Pedro de Lurigancho Prison earn money for their families.

The Thomas in question is Frenchman Thomas Jacob, owner and founder of Pietà. A former fabric buyer for French fashion house Channel, he was inspired to start his Lima-based business after visiting San Pedro prison in 2012. Thomas, who lived and worked in Peru, went with a friend who was teaching French to some of the prisoners. “Some interns said they knew how to sew, weave and print, but were unable to put their knowledge to use,” says Jacob, 33. So he decided to start a clothing brand that he would design, produce and sell inside the prison. ”Currently, the company has about 50 employees, two men and one woman, in his three prisons in Peru and produces about 1,000 garments a week. It is a non-profit company, and the inmates receive a commission from the sale of each item they make. The people involved do not need to have experience in clothing manufacturing, and the crimes for which they are serving sentences range from petty theft to murder. Pieta currently has three stores in Lima, but since the coronavirus outbreak, most of its clothing, including face masks, has been sold through its website. Most of our international orders come from Australia, the United States, and other South American countries. The prison is paid a wage equivalent to Peru’s minimum wage, but Jacob says there is no production inside the prison to save money. “Peruvian textile industry is very developed and produces quite a lot, so moving it outside of the prisons would significantly reduce costs,” he says. “But I don’t want to exploit people or make them feel uncomfortable. We are a social project and there is no point in moving the production.” Working for Pietà , it can also help reduce sentences by allowing inmates to afford to enroll in academic courses. By conducting this research, their sentences will be reduced by the authorities. “My sentence is five years, but if I study for at least two years, I can get out sooner,” says Daniel Rojas Palacios, 25. He has been working at Pietà for several months. In addition to supporting his young daughter outside, he uses the money to study textile design. “Courses are expensive, so you have to work a lot,” he added. Peru is not the only country that allows fashion companies to produce textiles inside prisons. In Finland, a company called Papillon has been doing the same activities as Pieta since 2009. “We aim to make our products in the most sustainable way possible, in addition to providing rational work and rehabilitation projects in prisons with the aim of revitalizing prisoners.” says Teemu Ruotsalainen, CEO of Papillon. Another of his fashion brands that makes clothes inside prisons is the Danish brand Kasel, which he makes clothes in two women’s prisons in Thailand and Peru. Founder Veronica D’Souza says she was inspired by a visit to a women’s prison in Kenya. “Prison guards told the women that the worst thing they could do is do nothing. It causes depression,” said Florian Irminger, chief executive of the campaign group Penal Reform International. said the organization is in favor of allowing prisoners to work in companies, provided they are not exploited. “We believe that efforts to rehabilitate prisoners, including prison labor, are only important if they are based on contracts freely agreed to by the prisoner,” he says. “However, too often prison work is seen as cheap labor. Prison work should be an opportunity for prisoners to contribute to the development of their communities.

“Efforts need to be made to improve the living conditions of prisoners, especially in low- and middle-income countries.”Finally, prison work can have a long-term impact on prisoners’ lives, for example through training and work certificates. It must contribute to

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