The main cause of female incarceration is poverty. It predominantly concerns young, poor, single mothers with low levels of education and income. Being behind bars for years without an opportunity to earn an income pushes them even further down the ranks of society.
With new skills and fair wages they can learn to support themselves, send their children to school, save up for a crime-free future and ultimately break with the cycle of poverty.
We’ve started Carcel in order to have a positive impact on the world through fair wages for women in prison, using only the best materials and making quality designs that you can keep wearing again and again - and again.
We have set up our own production inside the women's prison in Cusco, Peru, and inside the women’s correctional institution in Chiang Mai, Thailand. We are hands on with every step in the production process: we buy the materials, we employ the women and we pay their salaries directly.
We have fantastic teams, and we have fantastic production managers both in Cusco and Chiang Mai, who goes to prison every day. Our team from Copenhagen travels to 3-4 times a year to work alongside the women in each place to develop our production set-up, our designs and our relation with each and every one of our employees.
Together we are pioneering a new way of producing fashion - a new way of running a production inside prisons. We are constantly making sure to developing and becoming better in creating the best suited model for each production site.
We believe that women in prison should be treated fairly in all aspects of employment equal to fair local employment outside of prison. Investing in their future is an investment into a better world.
We are developing country-specific payment schemes that best fit conditions at hand in order to ensure that each woman in our production earns at least the local living wage of the country we operate in, as recommended by the ILO.
Depending on the level of competence, responsibility and production quality, every woman has the opportunity to earn benefits on top of her fixed base wage. The women are recruited freely based on motivation and skills and they never work overtime.
Rocio is smart, talented and professional. The other girls named her 'la major trabajadora', the best worker. Her family live far away which means she never gets any visitors so the opportunity to work means a lot to her.
After High School, Rocio moved to Cusco and worked in a fashion store. She fell in love with an older man who asked her to drive some new girls to Cusco, who would work in his store. She states that she didn't know they were hired as prostitutes. She got stopped by police control and is serving time for human trafficking. Her boyfriend disappeared and she never heard from him again.
Rocio is working to save up for a new beginning. Her dream is to study tourism and leave Peru with the hope to one day, live in Brazil with her father.
Edith is a shy, tentative and kind soul. She’s a fantastic team player and no one would ever say a bad word about her. It took her a while to get comfortable working the knitting machine as she was afraid to make mistakes, but now she is brilliant at making Milano sweaters.
Edith was selling auto mechanic spare parts in Lima when she fell in love with a younger man. He wanted to show her Cusco and asked her to get a lift with his friend and meet him there. The car got stopped on the way and the inside of the upholstery was full of cocaine. None of her family can afford the journey to come visit her. She is working hard to save up everything she makes to buy medicinefor her mother.
Elena wears pink lipstick every day, has a great sense of humour and keeps her favourite soft drink next to her knitting machine. She is loud and always in a great mood.
When she was just 12 years old she started bringing drugs from her village in the jungle to Bolivia. She continued doing that for 12 years and got to experience a lot of things during that time. They were a group of four on their motorbikes, transporting the drugs in their backpacks to the other side of the border. She says she had a good life, and it made enough money for her daughter and her family.
Elena got 16 years and has eight years left. When she leaves prison, she wants to take care of her daughter and give her the chance of a brighter future. It has always been her dream to move away from the little village in the jungle and to have a better life in Lima.
Esther is a little shy because she is new in prison and doesn‘t know the other girls that well yet. She regrets her previous actions and knows that what she did was wrong but at the time she felt really helpless. She desperately needed money to buy medicine for her daughter who has a heart defect. She doesn’t want to talk more about it.
She worked many years in the construction industry making bricks but with three children she couldn‘t do this backbreaking work any longer. Her financial situation then got worse after separating from her violent husband.
She is now waiting for her final judgment but has not been able to afford a lawyer in the process. Esther is currently working on the domestic knitting machine. She has never done this type of work before and feels proud that she is now capable of making beautiful knits.
Fanny is our hand knit champion. She is extremely talented and cares for every detail. She is originally from Cusco but lived most of her life in Puno.
Her mother died when she was very small and she grew up with just her dad. At the age of 21, she gave birth to her first child. She has always worked hard to support herself and her family from an early age.
Fanny got a sentence of 10 years for robbery. She was planning on separating from her alcoholic and violent first husband but he didn’t want the divorce or to pay child support for their son. Shortly after he was arrested for stealing cars and selling them on the black market. He told the police that she was an accomplice. She was detained in Puno and sent to prison in Cusco. She pled not guilty but with little evidence to support her case she got 10 years. Now she has only one year left in prison.
She is a strong-minded woman, who is very warm, open and laughs a lot. She loves to cook and is really interested in vegetarian food, yet her favourite dish will always be pollo a la brasa.
Natural, pure, and locally sourced. We source the finest materials native to the country of production. Natural materials are biodegradable, full of superpowers and friendly to the environment.
In Peru, we only work with the finest baby alpaca wool, known as Fibre of the Gods. Baby alpaca has the winning combination of soft, shiny, silky and strong. It is naturally thermo regulating, sensitive to your skin, and alpaca farming is sustainable as they are free roaming.
In Thailand, we use three types of local silk: the softest twill silk, classic Thai silk that is handwoven by women in the Isaac province and Queens silk, which is woven by hand inside the prison in Chiang Mai, just next to our workspace.
Read more about our materials in our journal.
Our designs take their starting point in the Scandinavian design tradition where detail and silhouette meet quality material. The material is the fundament and defines the details of the final product.
We believe in the power and future of Slow Fashion and keep our collections simple and strong. We design beyond seasons meaning our products never lose any value and never goes on sales.
Every piece is made with a meticulous consideration for both the technical and aesthetic details, made with a vision for balancing the beauty of a classic product with current relevance. Our products are made to be worn effortly.
Each product proudly carries the name of the women who made it.
We keep our designs simple and strong, introducing new styles throughout the year. This way we stay relevant, and respect the pace of our unique production.
We produce limited batches of styles and launch them one at the time and we produce on pre-order. This way we sell what we produce, avoid stock, eliminate waste and keep the value of our products.
We believe in the power and future of slow fashion and we do not compromise on design, planet or people – why should we?