African designers to feature artisanal fabrics during Rome fashion week

26 June 2013
ITC News
ITC and Altaroma partner to promote the work of artisans, enabling them to sell their handiwork and fight poverty

The International Trade Centre (ITC) is partnering with the style agency AltaRoma to promote the handiwork of African artisans during next month’s fashion week in Rome, with the goal of connecting them to global fashion brands and enabling them to sell their products, earn money and improve their livelihoods.

Ghanaian designers Christie Brown and KIKI Clothing will showcase their collections on Sunday, 7 July, during Rome’s fashion week, AltaRomAltaModa. The show will also feature designs by the Swiss label PortenierRoth and the Italian-Haitian brand Stella Jean, which have used hand-woven fabrics produced by artisans in Burkina Faso and Mali.

The showcasing of African handiwork in Rome is a project of ITC’s Ethical Fashion Initiative, which gives artisans in East Africa, West Africa and Haiti the opportunity to develop and manufacture hand-woven products for fashion businesses around the world. The workers benefit from the increased income for their families and communities, while buyers are able to source ethically produced goods that meet their quality standards.

The initiative has empowered nearly 7,000 artisans, 98% of which are women, to produce goods for brands and distributors including Chan Luu, Ilaria Venturini Fendi, Manor, Myer, Osklen, sass &bide, Stella McCartney, United Arrows and Vivienne Westwood.

The Ethical Fashion Initiative includes a system of impact assessment, which measures the effect of trade on poverty levels, health, housing, sanitation, access to education and gender issues, among others.

This project is funded by Switzerland’s State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).

In a separate event on 20 June, Stella Jean debuted her first menswear collection at the Pitti Uomo fashion show in Florence, which featured clothing made from ethically sourced fabrics. ITC began a partnership with Stella Jean this year, when the designer travelled to Burkina Faso to source fabrics from community weavers.

For more information about the Ethical Fashion Initiative, visit the programme’s Facebook page.