The Pép Story!

Mr. Hans Garoute kindly elaborated on the story of Pépé to reinforce our confidence in Pép as a name for Design Junction’s refurbished Eco-clothing line. The story is interesting!

The Salvation Army was front-runner in a growing trend to send used clothing to Haiti in the 1960s. Large and growing volumes of second hand clothing from North America were being sent to Haiti in order to clothe the poor. Mission groups joined the movement, and the transfer of clothing grew exponentially. Pép means “the people” in Haitian Creole.  The used clothing became referred to as clothing of the people, Pépé . Pép became Pépé as it was distributed to the people as “Pép! Pép! Pép!”, which gave way to just “Pépé ”.

The first people wearing used clothing were frowned upon. It was a shame to be seen wearing Pépé . Not only did Pépé reduce the self-esteem of so many Haitians but it damaged the fashion industry in Haiti. Haiti had once been a big manufacturer of denim.  New clothing stores simply could not compete with the mass import of clothing at such low prices. To this day there is no strict quota on the volume of used clothing entering Haiti.

Purchasing Pépé from the markets of Haiti to be taken apart and re-made into a stylish and unique refurbished clothing line rang positively with every Haitian we spoke to. While some could hardly believe there was a market for such clothing in Toronto, they liked the idea of returning used garments with value added to North America. Making the clothing while we were in Haiti was a very valuable experience that depended on the design and tailor skills invested by everyone involved.

Lionel Etienne, a previous ambassador to France, felt that the model of Pép “brings back the self-esteem of those wearing Pépé ”. Anne and I couldn’t be more encouraged. Many thought, what a unique and interesting idea! And everyone encouraged us to pursue its success. We are in hot pursuit! We have amped up our indie-go-go profile with pics and a video clip shot in Port-au-Prince. Contributions will help fund the first clothing order for Pép that will be placed in Toronto retail!!

Thank you to all our new Haitian friends for the encouragement! Including but not limited to, all the employees at INDEPCO for working with us and having us in their space, Hans Garoute for developing project Design Junction and its Pép line with us, Aida Garoute for her inspiring designs, Lionel for his gracious hospitality in his beautiful home, and Jean-Paul Faubert, the Haitian Country Manager at DHL in Port-au-Prince, for offering us a discount on shipping Pép clothing to Toronto.




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