Carcel – Danish Design Made by Women Prisoners

Carcel, a Danish sustainable label founded by social entrepreneurs Veronica D’Souza and Louise van Hauen, produces high-quality garments while making great social impact. Recently, Carcel have signed an exceptional partnership agreement with the Thai Ministry of Justice to provide new opportunities for women in prison. The partnership contains a clothing production set-up inside women’s prisons, which will provide the women fair wages and new skills in production. The production will be Danish designs made by locally-sourced silk.

For the first time, the Thai Ministry of Justice makes a partnership agreement with an international company on production inside prisons. This partnership is made possible after Carcel’s successful production set-up in Peru, which has been running the last year. Early in 2017, the founders of Carcel bought analogue hand knitting machines in Peru and started the training of women in prison in Cusco, Peru. Their vision is to provide the women with new skills, good wages, and possibilities for crime-free beginnings.

Carcel works closely with the 15 employed women in Cusco, and the exclusive handmade garments are all made in 100% luxury, baby alpaca wool locally-sourced in Peru. Each garment has the name of the woman who made it sewn on the inside. She also gets a decent living wage, a little dignity, and the chance to break the cycle of poverty and drug trafficking that leads to devastatingly high female incarceration rates all over the world. Each woman is paid $17 for each garment she makes, and makes on average 2.5 garments per day, earning her approximately three times the minimum wage in Peru. Of the total amount Carcel then sells the final product for, 1/3 goes to social impact investment (education, new equipment, field work), 1/3 to unit production costs (materials, salaries, transportation), and 1/3 to business development (design, marketing, operations).

They keep their collection simple and relevant by introducing new styles one at a time, and with no stores they sell exclusively online without the traditional markup price.