Saturday, September 08, 2012

Prison Fashion - Clever Marketing Ploy or Sincere Social Conscious?

Three graduates from the Rotterdam School of Management started an interesting initiative. Dave Geerders and Roy & Sascha Oosterbaan launched a new clothing brand called Stripes Clothing.

The Stripes Clothing items are made in prison by inmates. According to the company’s philosophy, they “advocate the use of your freedom to the fullest and stimulate specialized labor in prison. This way, inmates will regain self-confidence and gain skill to be used whenever they are given their freedom back. This will not only increase their chances in society, society as a whole will benefit from this too.”

The Ministry of Justice supports the project. It runs prison production in its jails that serves a wide range of enterprises. According to the MoJ, they stand for “quality, sufficient capacity, appealing prices and tailor-made”.  

The garments are designed by Said Lechheb, a talented young designer in his early twenties from Rotterdam, the Netherlands. He studies graphic design at the Willem de Kooning art academy.

It looks like our dynamic trio purchased T-shirts in bulk (from China?)  and just had them tweaked. "Walls Heritage" for example features a “khaki pocket made randomly from a used inmate overall, so each shirt is unique.”

The T-shirts are sold for $38 up; not exactly a bargain. Considering the design and production costs, it leaves a hefty profit for management.

Which makes me wonder - is this sincere sentiment or clever marketing using cheap labor & design to rake in the big bucks? What do you think?

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