Fashion is a job opportunity in a Peruvian prison

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Clemente Espinosa was imprisoned three years ago in Lurigancho, the largest prison. At the end of the month, each of the twenty inmates from Lurigancho who worked in Pietà received a percentage of the production, amounting to more than 1,500 clothes per week and usually translates into a salary above the minimum, marked at 1,025 soles (about $268).

This is how the workshop manager, Santos Arce Ramos, the oldest project convict, pointed out to Efe, explaining with pride that he had seen “many passing machinists who have already taken to the streets.”

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The prisoners worked sewing.  (Photo: EFE)
The prisoners worked sewing. (Photo: EFE)

An alternative fashion brand

The architect of all of this was Thomas Jacoba Frenchman born 34 years ago in the Brittany region, who has lived in Peru for more than a decade.

“I have a friend who teaches French in prison and one day he invited me to see a play he was doing with his imprisoned students and I saw that they had sewing machines, others were printing, embroidering or weaving, but they had no work. and I thought it would be interesting to do a project together, an original and authentic clothing brand,” he told Efe.

He himself is the creator Piet clothing minimalist design limited and urban stylewhich proposes an “alternative fashion vision” and supports “Peruvian products” and natural, organic and recycled materials.

Thomas Jacob, project alma mater.  (Photo: EFE)
Thomas Jacob, project alma mater. (Photo: EFE)

The logo is four vertical bars crossed diagonally: “These are the numbered days in prison, where you are confined indefinitely, and it also represents the bars in the cell,” details Jacob.

And the brand name, he added, was inspired by Michelangelo’s masterpiece, which represents the final scene before the resurrection that gives rise to rebirth.

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Ten years of saving in prison through fashion

This project was born ten years ago for save dignity and promote social reintegration of prisoners from San Jorge, in the center of Lima, and from Santa Mónica, in the Chorrillos district.

Fashion is a job opportunity in a Peruvian prison

But since 2014 it has focused exclusively on Lurigancho, because it is “the biggest in the country, where there is a lot of potential, a lot of people who want to work and progress, and a lot of knowledge,” says Jacob.

The prison houses more than 10% of the 87,246 inmates across Peru. There are currently 8,874 inmates, nearly three times the center’s capacity (3,200), according to the director of Efe.

Jacob with clothes that were then branded.  (Photo: EFE)
Jacob with clothes that were then branded. (Photo: EFE)

Behind access control doors to the facility, while some security officers stabbed fruit bags with knives to prevent the entry of prohibited substances or objects, others watched a group of at least 15 people see it for the first time, from the inside. , those yellow walls, sealed in barbed wire, that starting today surround their new home.

The same photo is replicated every week, in a country that records a prison density of 112% and that, in just two decades, saw its inmates triple.

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