Africa Fashion Guide
A social enterprise promoting sustainability within Africa's fashion and textile industry.


July 25th, 2012

Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave launches ethical clothing collaboration with Cotton made in Africa

With the London based Olympics just around the corner we are excited to bring you some interesting news Olympic legend Sir Steve Redgrave has launched his first sports sock collection made from sustainable African cotton and manufactured in the UK.

The men’s sock has been produced as part of an innovative collaboration between Sir Steve’s clothing range FiveGold (FiveG) and the Aid by Trade  Foundation’s Cotton made in Africa (CmiA) initiative. The range will retail at £8 per pair and is now on sale through online retailer

FiveG, which was created by Sir Steve in 2001 and named after his  record-breaking five consecutive Olympic gold medals, is the first brand  to sell clothing produced from CmiA cotton in the UK. The initiative, which is currently running in six African countries, aims  to improve the living conditions for African smallholder farmers by  creating an alliance of international textile firms, who purchase and  process the sustainably-produced cotton for the world market.  As one of Britain’s greatest sportsmen, Sir Steve also hopes to highlight  the skill of British craftsmanship in 2012 – a momentous year for UK  sport – by producing the line at Loughborough factory, J Alex Swift.

He said “I was proud to represent my country at the Olympics, and now I’m proud to champion UK manufacturing with this new collection.”

Sir Steve Redgrave and Neil Swift – Cotton Made in Africa

The factory, which was established in 1895 and run by third and fourth generation descendants, is one of only a handful still manufacturing  socks in the UK.

Alok Ruia, of FiveG, said: “It is places like J Alex Swift, which represents  the history, heritage and hard graft of British workers, that will be  lost if UK manufacturing isn’t supported by UK brands. It was important to us that we took the opportunity to highlight the  quality of UK production with our latest product, especially as the eyes  of the world are on the country this summer.”

FiveG has already cemented its position  as a label that is committed to the use of sustainable cotton. For the  past five years the brand has been selling its casual menswear range made from Fairtrade-certified cotton through department store Debenhams. Sir Steve’s goal is for FiveG to continue to champion quality clothing that is produced from sustainable sources.

He  said: “When I was travelling to India and Africa I learned first-hand about the issues that cotton farmers face every day. However, the team  spirit I experienced there was the same that I knew from my rowing career. For me Cotton made in Africa is another source of that team spirit because the work of the initiative focuses on improving the living conditions of  African farmers.”

Sir Steve Redgrave at the UK Factory – Cotton Made in Africa

FiveG  joins more than 20 international companies, including Puma, C&A and  Tom Tailor, as a participating partner in the CmiA initiative. The scheme is, among other sources, funded through licensing fees paid by the partners to the Aid by Trade Foundation, which is then directly reinvested to benefit smallholder farmers through a number of projects. These include training courses, which teach farmers about modern cultivation methods and moderate, targeted use of pesticides. Local  communities also benefit, with programmes set up to improve local education through various means, including building schools and running  adult literacy courses.

Abi  Rushton, Associate Director of Aid by Trade Foundation, said: “We are very excited that FiveG has committed to the use of CmiA sustainable cotton with its latest collection, and that it will be available in the UK just in time for the London Olympics. By expanding the CmiA initiative to the UK, it means  that more people will have the opportunity to buy and wear clothes made  from sustainable cotton, which will in turn help to improve the lives  of the African cotton farmers, as well as the communities they are part  of.”

Sir Steve Redgrave with the new Five G socks – image Cotton Made in Africa

For more on Cotton Made in Africa – see their website here.



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