Bono and Mrs Bono fashion mission

He has set himself up as a champion of the poor and dispossessed in the developing world.

But U2 singer Bono has now raised eyebrows after he and his wife’s ethical fashion house moved production to an undisclosed location in China.

About 15 per cent of Edun’s clothes will be made in the Communist country after African orders proved to be of poor quality.

But by doing so Edun, which is the brainchild of Bono’s wife Ali Hewson and had financial backing from the U2 frontman, appeared to be going back on its own mission statement to ‘encourage trade with Africa and celebrate the possibilities and the people of the continent’.  

Factory owners in China are notorious for paying workers low wages and forcing them to work long hours in sweatshop conditions.

Bono and Mrs Hewson launched Edun in 2005 to ‘put our money where our mouths were’ to improve the lives of those in developing nations and make clothing manufacturing more sustainable.

Alongside Sir Bob Geldof, Bono, 50, is the most high-profile musician-turned-advocate for developing countries and has lobbied world leaders at G8 summits to axe Third World debt.

Mrs Hewson, 49, became Edun’s public face and driving force, with Bono taking on a more advisory role.

The company made much of its agreements with farmers in Northern Uganda and production bases in Tunisia, Tanzania and Kenya as a sign it was committed to Africa.

But it soon ran into problems with sourcing and delivery: shipments arrived late and retailers complained about the fit and design.

Edun also felt the pinch of the recession and, from a peak of hundreds of stores in 2006, its shirts, jackets, bags and T-shirts were sold at just 67 shops around the world last year.

Mrs Hewson considered closing but worked out a deal with a Chinese manufacturer and sold a 49 per cent stake last year to luxury goods maker LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton for about $7.8million (£5.08million).

According to U.S. reports, almost all the items at Edun’s New York Fashion Week show were made in China, not Africa. 

We focused too much on the mission in the beginning,’ she said in an interview. ‘It’s the clothes, it’s the product. It’s a fashion company.

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