We are the world's first fashion brand to offer mass-market apparel made exclusively with second-hand or discarded clothing.
Mish Mash Shirt
As the designs came to life, Converte reached out to Gerard & Linda Turnley. Creative clothes needs creative images - and with little (read 'no' budget), this amazing team travelled down to Surrey to shoot the first products in a small hall, modelled by our founders children and their friends. Given the tiny budget, and lack of professional studio - the outcomes far exceeded our hopes - and put Converte on the map as a 'real' brand!
Converte Artisan Margaret
One of the early elements of Converte that appealed so much to Allison was the artisanal component. After the design idea comes the sorting, cleaning and deconstructing. Even these somewhat mundane tasks sees individual engagement playing a key role in each decision. Within the reconstruction process, artisans get to combine the individual elements - making each Converte piece truly unique and 'hand-made'.
Here Margaret is completing one of our Mti trousers,. Not quite 'drip' but we think its pretty darn cool :-)
Gikomba Market, Nairobi, Kenya
'Waste, waste everywhere and not a piece to buy!' (with apologies to Coleridge :). Despite the millions of tonnes of consumer and industrial waste across our globe, accessing a supplier became a logistical nightmare! Bureaucracy, red tape, brand protection, monopolies...everything bar a desire to save our planet seemed at play. Then in 2020 Allison met Jane from Gikomba's Best Mitumba Bales and a partnership was formed. Today Converte is excited to have an MOU with Accacia Traders and to be opening conversations with several global fast-fashion brands around partnerships that engage with industrial waste and deadstock. Watch this space!
Converte Artisan Walter
In 2019, Allison travelled back to Nairobi to search for a manufacturer who shared her passion for a sustainable, ethical approach to manufacturing, and met Robin MacAndrew of Artisan Fashion, an EFI-affiliated producer of handbags and accessories for designers like Stella McCartney and Vivienne Westwood. Clothing was a new departure, but Allison's idea of creating an affordable, accessible brand made out of consumer & industrial waste & dead-stock appealed so much to Robin that he came on board as a partner in Converte.
Travelling to Cape Town after her Toi Market 'Damascus moment', Allison reached out to designer Gabi Rosenwerth and seamstress Nazemah Feldman. Together they began to 'change the how'. A second-hand shirt was no longer just an unwanted shirt - it was an exciting new raw material waiting for its reincarnation into ... a bandeau! All very shape shifting and Matrix like!
Toi Market, Nairobi, Kenya.
Bordering Kibera informal settlement and home to over 5000 informal traders, Toi Market is the second largest open air Mitumba market in Nairobi, and where some of the over 37 MILLION items of second-hand clothing shipped into Kenya every year will end up. It was here that Converte founder Allison first had the idea of not just creating a new brand out of old clothes, but to democratise sustainability, making it affordable and accessible to all.