Originally created 03/15/05

U2's Bono launches fashion brand



NEW YORK - Bono has a new gig: U2's lead singer is charged with raising awareness and interest in the new fashion brand Edun.

However, his mission is larger than selling T-shirts, shrunken blazers and slim-cut denim pants with metallic stitching.

The goal is to build a brand that produces desirable and wearable clothing while providing sustainable employment and stable commercial relationships in developing areas of the world.

Each pair of jeans is inscribed: "We carry the story of the people who make our clothes around with us."

"This is the fashion equivalent of mothers looking at the back of a can to see what exactly she's going to feed to her kids," Bono told The Associated Press recently. "We're answering a demand that's just stirring."

The collection - Edun is nude spelled backward - is co-designed by Bono's wife, Ali Hewson, and Rogan, an established designer with his own clothing line that emphasizes organic fabrics and ethical guidelines.

Edun's garments are designed after the capabilities of the factories in Lima, Peru, and Monastir, Tunisia, have been assessed, said Rogan, whose full name is Rogan Gregory. For the fall collection, production will extend to Lesotho, South Africa, and Tanzania in East Africa.

Although she's stylishly dressed on this day in a black satin blouse, black boot-cut pants and studded platform sandals, Hewson sees herself as a fashion novice.

"God, I hope you don't see a photo of me dropping the kids off at school! From a style point of view, I'm just discovering fashion. I was a tomboy as a kid," she said.

Hewson said she and Bono, an activist on debt relief and AIDS, decided to get into the apparel business as the result of his many trips to Africa.

"Bono's biggest impression of the Africans is that they don't want charity, they want trade," Hewson said. "They have pride, they're very dignified people. They want to work. This company is a business model that other people can follow."

Hewson also noted that consumers are interested in where their clothes are coming from and under what conditions they're being made. "I know I was starting to wonder, 'Did other people's children make the clothes for my children?'"

Bono helps choose where the clothes will be made to make the most of local resources and talents in developing areas while maintaining high standards for labor practices.

"The only demand Ali made on me was that I didn't get involved in the fashion!" the singer said with a laugh. "I'm here to try to get the sound on the radio, if you know what I mean."

Pieces in the mostly casual collection, for men and women, retail for $45 to $300 and are available at Saks Fifth Avenue stores nationwide.

The name Edun - also a play on the Garden of Eden - is intended to imply innocence, sensuality and a return to nature, Rogan said. The company's logo and the graphics on some of the spring garments were inspired by the Art Nouveau movement, which was in many ways a response to the Industrial Revolution.

There are also interesting details. For example, some of the T-shirts are made using traditional Incan vegetable dyes and the jeans have a poem embroidered inside their pockets.

"I think you should always have a poem in your pocket," said Bono, pointing to his by German writer Rainer Maria Rilke.

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