We believe that world is not black and white. Bad people can do good and rehabilitate themselves and not everything that is marketed as green or eco is what it claims to be. Our aim is to bring it peoples minds and look with their eyes open. We believe that criminals can rehabilitate themselves, but we are not naïve, we know that most grownup men don’t change, so we give 50% of our profits to charity organizations helping orphanage and street children who are most dangered to end up in jail in the future.
Inmates in Eastern Europe are making products from 2 kinds of sources. First, there are bags made from recycled billboards. We only use old, dead billboards, not misprints or production leftovers. Additional bag materials, like belts, buckles, zippers are currently new as it’s hard to find good quality used materials in big enough quantities in Estonia. Second is men’s underwear from organic cotton. Rubber belt (elastic is not organic) Third is t-shirts from organic cotton with water based silk screen printing. Our organic cotton is sourced from India and Turkey. It is always atleast GOTS certified. Read more about GOTS here.
Products are made by inmates and ex-inmates in Eastern Europe, currently in Latvia and Estonia. 95% is done inside jail, but some sample design and silk-screen printing is done outside. All inmates get paid for their work and no slavery is used. Salaries are not high, but they are fair and comparable to salaries outside in same jobs Latvia and Estonia. Clothing manufacturing salaries are a bit below average in every country and recession has left many people in this field unemployed as productions has moved to Asia.
About Heavy Eco
Heavy Eco was founded in 2010 and is part of the Estonian social enterprise Laurus Ethica Ltd, which focuses on green product development and finding ways to help give everyone a equal chance, regardless of their social background or upbringing. As a social enterprise, 50% of profits is donated to charitable organizations who help fund orphanages and provide street children with the option of a better life. In practice it means that we donate our profits to SOS Children’s Village in Estonia. You can read more about it here.
Our first project is Heavy Eco, fashion straight from the slammer. Heavy Eco combines eco fashion, that is seen as pure or even holy by some, with the brutal reality of Eastern European inmates. Most of the production is done through prison manufacturing units in Estonian and Latvian prisons. Some more complex products and samples are produced outside prisons by ex-convicts. As a social enterprise, that holds ethical values in high regards, we pay close attention to the fact that all artisians are treated fairly, get paid fairly and that there is no slavery used in any part of manufacturing process.
As a social enterprise working in the world of eco fashion, we are deeply concerned with the materials that are used to make products. Currently there are 2 main product lines: T-shirts from organic cotton and bags made from recycled billboards. Finding good quality organic cotton is quite a challenge and we’ve had many trials and errors to find a reliable manufacturer. Currently we have settled on 2 producers from Turkey and India who can provide the quality we need and also prove that their cotton is organic and that workers are treated fairly. Secondly, the main material is recycled PVC billboards. Most of these are old movie billboards that would be wasted otherwise. We only use old, discarded billboards, not misprints or factory leftovers, even though it costs more. It’s also a lot more work as all the billboards have to be cleaned from dirt and dust before they are given to the inmates who then perform their magic. You can read more about it here.
Our collections are inspired by the harsh reality of inmates in Eastern European prisons, so the unifying theme is Russian prison tattoos. In Russian prison culture, every tattoo tells the life story of a criminal. You can tell how many times a person has been in prison and what he’s convicted for just by reading his tattoos. You can see some tattoos here.
The Long-term vision is to start a large manufacturing unit that employes only ex-criminals and offers them a chance to keep clean and keep doing what they have learned.
Tel 020 8123 2272