The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange

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From left to right: Ulric Jerome, CEO of MATCHESFASHION.COM, Arizona Muse, Model, Livia Firth, Founder and Creative Director, Eco-Age, The Right Honourable Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, Ashia Sheikh Dearwester, Chief Strategy & Partnerships Officer, Nest, Wilson Oryema, Model, Euphemia Sydney Davies, Fashion Designer, Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board, Nigel Gosse, The Woolmark Company, Dylan Jones, The British Fashion Council

For the first time, The Commonwealth comes together to showcase a wealth of design and artisan fashion talent across its 53 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 53 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.”

Nadja Swarovski, Member of the Swarovski Executive Board, says: “We are honored to support Eco Age and the Commonwealth with this ambitious initiative, which unites an incredibly diverse group of designers and artisans to champion values that are so important to us at Swarovski: creativity, craftsmanship and sustainability. We are pleased that our support has enabled the artisans to join the Nest Guild, helping them to build a sustainable business and preserve their craft for generations to come.”

Stuart McCullough, Managing Director of The Woolmark Company, says: “As a company owned by Australian woolgrowers, The Woolmark Company is very proud to be supporting this important project. Australian wool is a natural, biodegradable and renewable fibre lovingly cultivated by generations of Australian woolgrowers who care for their sheep and work tirelessly to protect and conserve the extensive pastures on which their flocks graze. This premium fibre continues to be an important ingredient in the global fashion industry. It is therefore exciting to work with Eco-Age to make sure the GCC sustainability principles are woven across the entire collections and to see so much of our natural fibre, wool, being used.”

Ulric Jerome, CEO of MATCHESFASHION.COM, says: “The most resilient and sustainable supply chains in fashion are based on collaboration and, fundamentally, that is what we are seeing created by The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange. We are delighted to be the chosen digital and retail partner for this exciting initiative.”

Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age, says: “This is a project rich in partnerships and creative co-design. For example, one of our very talented designers from India is paired with an artisan group in Tuvalu. As someone who is passionate about joining the threads of global fashion and creating real partnerships you can imagine how exciting it is for us to be involved.”

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 53 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.”