Creative Director Sharon Wauchob on Her First Year at Edun

In January 2010, British fashion designer Sharon Wauchob took the helm of fashion-label Edun as creative director. Launched in 2005 by Ali Hewson and Bono, and now co-owned by LVMH, Edun seeks to raise “awareness of the possibilities in Africa and encourage the industry to do business there.” A reported 80% of their products are manufactured in Africa. In 2008, the company, together with the Wildlife Conservation Society, created Conservation Cotton, a partnership with Invisible Children in Northern Uganda. The initiative seeks to support 3,500 cotton farmers in Northern Uganda. Currently, Edun is going through something of a brand re-launch, and Wauchob, a graduate of London’s Central Saint Martin’s, seems like a shrewd pick to navigate the way. Wauchob is no stranger to the fashion world. She worked as a ready-to-wear and accessories designer for Louis Vuitton from 1997–2001, and launched her eponymous label in Paris in 1999, which is now sold at over 120 stores in 40 countries. This past week in Milan, Wauchob presented her second menswear collection for Edun (New York fashion week will see the anticipated re-launch of womenswear). Wauchob took a few moments to talk about her experiences at Edun, the creative influences for the autumn/winter 2011/12 collection, called “Storytellers and Liars,” and working with Ireland’s most famous couple.

This month marks your first full year at the label, how has the adjustment been? It’s been so busy—exciting. Visiting and working with Africa alone has been hugely important both professionally and personally. There has been a lot to do, Edun is developing and with on board there has been many new opportunities in the past year.

What inspires you most when designing Edun? The personality of the brand itself, it has a real story, a soul. That’s not always apparent in our industry especially with new labels. It’s a great opportunity to be part of forming a new identity.

The ideology behind Edun is very unique. What makes this label so special in your opinion? It is formed from the founders’ belief in making a change, which is quite unique in itself. Wanting to use fashion for the possibility of change is a great idea. I also love that Edun is about real people: Whether it is the factory workers, the designers or the actual customer, we are always analyzing those around us.

How is working/collaborating with Ali Hewson and Bono? In what capacity are they involved? They are both very involved, and that’s inspiring. Ali has travelled often with me to factories, and she brings a fresh perspective, which I welcome and really appreciate. Being a designer around them both is great, as they understand creativity and allow me to focus on the creative direction of the label.

How has your creative process with Edun differed from your previous designing projects? Not many design projects take you to Africa…When the normal fashion stress kicks in it’s always good to remember that.

Tell us a little more about the A/W 11/12 collection and how “Storytellers and Liars” came to be? It’s a very real collection; the theme however can be real or a fantasy, that’s what I like when designing, the juxtaposition of two ideas. ‘Storytellers and Liars’ examines that. What is one person’s reality can be another person’s lie.

What elements of your life seem to influence your work the most? I tend to be a strange mixture of creativity along side a very down to earth practicality. I suppose my past in Ireland influences me in terms of my practical nature but my real inspiration comes from looking forward.

Ali Hewson and Dazed & Confused magazine co-hosted a cocktail party and concert at the “Storytellers and Liars” presentation in Milan, which featured a live performance from up-and-coming British band the Heartbreaks, all dressed in looks from the new Edun Collection.

image Ali Hewson and Sharon Wauchob

Photographs by Stefano Trovati

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