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Rock Star Bono Sells World's Most Expensive Organic Cotton Clothing

The New York Post March 16, 2005

NOT PRO BONO - ROCKER SELLING THIRD WORLD FASHION FOR FIFTH AVE. $$$

BY: DANICA LO

IF you want to feel really good about wearing Bono's politically correct new fashion line, send him the bill.

You'll need rock-star wages to pay for the new "conscious commerce" collection of jeans, hemp jackets and organic cotton tops from Bono and his anti-nukes activist wife, Ali Newson.

Sold under the label of Edun at Saks and Barneys, the duo's line - made by fairly compensated adults in Africa and South America - starts with $55 logo T's and goes up to $320 for a rumpled cream hemp blazer for men.

A casual outfit of jeans, a cotton camisole and a blouse totals $435 - more than five times a comparable look from bargain mecca H&M, which also touts its anti-sweatshop, fair-wage labor practices.

Several Saks shoppers suffered sticker shock over the $175 blouse yesterday.

"It's great that Bono's trying to create jobs in developing countries," said Lily Gray, an assistant publicist from Manhattan, "but I feel that it's is a little absurd to pay $175 for this button-down shirt."

But Upper West Side mom Kate Jones called the shirt "adorable" and "really well-made," even though she guessed the price at $125. "My 16-year-old daughter would love it," she said.

Hewson, who said the line could generate a "healthy profit," is clearly not targetting bargainistas.

"Our denim prices are on par with the premium denim market," said Edun spokeswoman Bridget Russo.

"All the knits are organic, so there is a higher cost for materials. The labor costs are a little higher, as well. Overall, what's gone into them costs a little more, and our products are priced accordingly."

But a T-shirt from organic cotton costs only about 50 cents more to make than a regular cotton top, says Ronnie Cummins, National Director of the Organic Consumers Association.

And the L.A.-based American Apparel sells anti-sweatshop, made-in-the-U.S.A. organic cotton T-shirts for $15.

"Everything is made in our factory in downtown L.A.," said American Apparel spokesperson Cynthia Semon. "Our workers make, on average, $13 to $20 an hour and have excellent health care and dental benefits. There are free phones, Internet access and even a masseuse on site."

Edun's Russo would not reveal how much the company pays workers. "We do not disclose financial information," she said.

But at least the line's socially conscious message is getting across to workers here.

When The Post returned several pieces to Saks yesterday, the refund came with a guilt trip.

"You know little children in villages in Peru will die," the clerk said with a wink.

GRAPHIC: - Bono. (Ronald Asadorian/Splash) - Bono's version: $435 and H&M's version: $85. (Victoria Will) - Bono. (Ronald Asadorian/Splash)