Converte is the first company of its kind to implement a cyclical model at scale - creating affordable, beautiful, ethical clothing that people who care for fashion and the planetcan feel proud to wear
An ambitious apparel enterprise is taking the fight to fast fashion in an era-defining new way: Becoming the first organisation of its kind to implement a cyclical model at scale.
’s pioneering approach towards sustainable, ethical and affordable fashion involves designing a brand made exclusively with second-hand items.
By using both consumer and industry’s waste as the raw material, Converte trims costs and improves margins - utilising an 18,000 sq. ft factory in Nairobi.
This at-scale model reduces the industry’s environmental footprint and engages directly with the incredible talent available in African nations at each stage of production - creating employment opportunities and spearheading economic development.
With Converte clothing, Africa isn’t just a provider - but a hub of creators, artisans and marketers designing incredible clothing for the young and the young-at-heart crowd.
The environmental devastation caused by fast fashion is well documented - with the industry emitting over two billion tonnes
of greenhouse gases every year. The hyper-aggressive model has made clothing more affordable, but it has come at extreme social costs
- with items often made by low-paid staff operating in dangerous working conditions.
Converte founder Allison Turnley had always wanted to change things, and the idea for her company was born in 2014 when she visited Nairobi’s Toi Market on the outskirts of Kibera, home to over 5,000 informal second-hand clothing traders.
Realising the shocking amount of unsold clothing going to waste, Allison wondered whether these items could be reused as raw materials in a different way. Over the next four years, Allison and her team worked on the ground-breaking method to up-cycle second-hand clothing into new designs at-scale - with the clear mission to provide an affordable and accessible circular fashion brand.
In 2019, Allison approached Robin MacAndrew of Artisan Fashion to produce Converte’s first beta range, the success of which saw the duo partner up to launch Converte World in 2020.
Allison, who grew up in South Africa, has always had a passionate relationship with clothing, realising the disparity between worlds when she visited Oxford Street in London in her adulthood.
“I always had hand-me-down clothing as a child,” she states.
“I was the youngest sibling and only girl, so clothes were always a bit used by the time they got to me and the styles not always what I wanted. I remember when I got older, I became more creative and loved up-cycling these old clothes and any spare material found hiding in my mother’s sewing cabinet into a new life – once even cutting up my mum’s curtains to create the perfect outfit to go clubbing in!
“I retained an interest in fashion and started working as a film industry costume designer, as well as becoming a personal stylist for UNEP’s Lewis Pugh – which allowed me to live my passion for creative sustainability.
“In 2014 I was in Oxford Street, and I saw all these young people buying fashionable clothes all weekend. Just days later, I travelled to Kenya, and at Toi Market I saw heaving tables of discarded clothes. The true cost of fast fashion hit me hard that day.”
Allison could see the problem - but she also believed she could see the solution. And Africa was where it could be fixed.
“Something needed to change,” Allison explains.
“Fast fashion is a billion-dollar industry - I realised I could not as an individual challenge these huge companies, but I can mirror them. Democratise sustainability and change the value chain. As we say at Converte - change the HOW”
“Africa is a continent that has always recycled. It’s the culture there - finding use out of things - so it was natural for this idea.
“We decided we would take the cynical model and do it at scale -offering a solution to both industrial and consumer waste, creating jobs and democratising sustainability.”
Converte World has since blossomed into a brilliant brand for Gen Z fashion customers especially - a place where young people can buy on-trend items that are upcycled, circular and affordable.
“We want to challenge fast fashion and give Gen Z the choice,” says Allison.
Crucially, anyone who buys an item online from Converte World can take solace in the fact they are contributing to a more sustainable planet.
“Putting on certain clothes can make you feel good - it’s an extraordinary sensation,” Allison says.
“With Converte clothes, buyers can always wear them and look good - but also know they have made a difference.
“When we understand the full story of a piece of clothing - from the people who produced it to the people who wear it - the connection between us all grows.
“Using this ideology, we believe we can change our world.”
Learn more about Converte online via the official website: