For the first time, The Commonwealth comes together to showcase a wealth of design and artisan fashion talent across its 52 countries. Selected design talent includes major names such as Karen Walker representing New Zealand, Bibi Russell representing Bangladesh and Burberry and Stella McCartney representing the UK.
Participating designers and artisans will collectively represent all 52 commonwealth member countries in a major new initiative ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London this April. The ‘looks’ created through the Fashion Exchange will be showcased at a special reception at Buckingham Palace during London Fashion Week in February.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is an ambitious project with long term aims, that is being developed in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM, who will launch an edited collection in September this year.
The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, says: “The modern Commonwealth is young and creative. It represents a third of the world’s population, 60% of whom are under the age of 30. So fashion, alongside music and sport, represents a powerful common language and platform through which to influence young people around key issues. The Fashion Exchange has collaboration and partnership at its heart, forging new networks and making the Commonwealth Summit themes of prosperity, sustainability and fairness very real and tangible.”
The project is particularly timely as a global wave of interest in handmade products and authentic luxury causes a reassessment of the artisan fashion trades. In this way, The Fashion Exchange brings the values of the modern-day Commonwealth – women’s empowerment, ethical production and supply chains, innovation, economic growth and poverty reduction – to life through the globally appealing medium of fashion.
The initial looks will be celebrated during London Fashion Week at a reception at Buckingham Palace on February 19th, before moving to a public exhibition at Australia House on February 21st, and other locations in London where the exhibition will be open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.
Through unique digital partnerships with MATCHESFASHION.COM and Google Arts & Culture, those who cannot make it to the London showcase and exhibitions in person, will be able to engage with The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange via online platforms. The online platforms will provide deep insights into each designer and artisan producer, providing a compelling educational resource and living directory of artisans and designers from the 52 countries.
The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, saw the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.
Daniel Hatton, CEO & Founder of The Commonwealth Fashion Council, said: “The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is the beautiful result of cultures coming together. This project has provided a common sustainable ground which broadens networks and allows for the discovery of new friendships and processes, which enriches creativity.”