Fashion is the ultimate form of empowerment and self-expression say young Moroccan fashion students
Globally, the textiles and clothing sector is among the largest employers of youth and women. Youth are also a crucial group for brands as they influence consumer preferences, fashion, and brand loyalty.
A report published by the International Labour Organization states that younger consumers in the European Union and North America have caused an increase in demand for clothing made of natural and organic materials as well as a growth in sales of second-hand materials, reselling markets, vintage fashion, increased use of clothing rental and sharing platforms, and innovative recycling models.
In Morocco, the International Trade Centre (ITC) Global Textile and Clothing Programme in North Africa and Middle East (GTEX/MENATEX), is supporting Casa Moda Academy, a school of fashion design in three areas:
- The acquisition of an educational software that will allow students to be more efficient, as well as an intranet with a reliable database, which will facilitate communication between students and teachers.
- An expert to help develop the Design et Stylisme de Mode (DTS) - Creative Modelling programme, launched at the beginning of the 2020-2021 school year with government support.
- As of September 2021, support from an international expert from the Institut Français de la Mode to improve the school's operationalization and strategy.
Casa Moda Academy was created as part of a public/private partnership to support the transition of the Textile and Clothing sector from subcontractor to finished product. From 2010 to 2021, 139 graduates were trained, 90% of whom are women with an average age of 20.
Today the school is going international by promoting its work in African countries such as the Côte d'Ivoire, Benin and Senegal.
Wafaâ Khamlichi, the director of Casa Moda Academy, celebrates the school's achievements and its students: "Investing in youth is essential to ensure the Moroccan textile and clothing sector has a brighter future. The school provides them with solid training to acquire versatility and knowledge about the global fashion trends." In the mid-term she plans for the school to develop a programme focused on entrepreneurship to provide managerial skills, business management, and plan development, to help students create their own brands.
To celebrate International Youth Day on 12 August 2021, two Casa Moda Academy students share their views and give advice to young people who want to work in the fashion industry.
Ayoub Chigr 22 says, “My mother, a seamstress, helped me learn how to cut and sew clothes for my dolls. Thus, becoming a fashion designer was an obvious choice of career.
I am passionate about the fashion industry because of its ever-evolving capacity. New techniques, styles, personalities, and trends are constantly changing the game. So being part of this world makes your work and future adventurous as you never know what is coming next.
For example, seeing all these movements like the retro 70s style coming back or the young generations interested in vintage clothes fascinates me.
It delights me to watch gender norms being questioned. More and more people are opening themselves to new trends, such as the femboy movement that celebrates the feminine style worn by male icons. Thus, reaffirming that you can wear whatever you want. That's what's so exciting about fashion for me, the power and freedom it gives to young people.
In a few years, I see myself as a senior fashion designer who has worked on several projects, including stage outfits for great artists, which has always been one of my dreams. Alongside, I dream about building my own team of models, photographers, pattern makers and stylists.
For those who dream to follow the same career, my advice is always to keep your minds open to learn, change and adapt.”
Rihame Kahya 21 says, “Ever since I was a little girl, I adored the fashion industry. My grandmother inspired me to follow this career as she dedicated her life to sewing and making clothes for her family and friends.
Through clothes, I learned how to express myself as if it was a language. This enabled me to empower myself to become the strong woman I am.
As a Gen Z fashion designer, environmental causes are crucial for my work. Sustainability and ethical fashion are my main focus. I find the current model based on the fast-fashion world/industry wasteful and environmentally harmful.
As the future young generation of designers, we can change and break the rules to make fashion more sustainable and safer.
With the COVID outbreak, we witness the environment clamouring for help and the fashion industry reinventing itself to use technologies and virtualizing fashion new trends. More than ever, the young generation needs support from international organizations and institutions to ensure we have access to tools and means to excel in our future.
To the upcoming generation of young designers, I strongly recommend never give up on your dreams, follow your passion and find your own touch within it. As a form of self-expression, fashion can make you and others feel empowered. As long as you believe you can do it and do your best at it, YOU ARE GONNA ROCK IT.”
The GTEX MENATEX programme is funded by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO) of the Swiss Confederation and the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida), focusing on six priority countries (Egypt, Morocco, Jordan, Kyrgyzstan Tajikistan and Tunisia). The programme aims to encourage exports of textiles and clothing from developing countries to promote employment and income generation throughout the value chain.