Organic Woolmark wool and Solomon Islands crafts: straw skirts and trochus shell beads

Commonwealth Fashion Council

Explore the exchange story of designer KitX from Australia and artisan Pasifik Creations from Solomon Islands and find out how they created their look for The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange, 2018.

"A really valuable outcome from this project would be to raise awareness about the people involved in weaving the textiles we wear, and the human element that goes into every single fashion garment."
Kit Willow
The Exchange: Australia x Solomon Islands
For The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange 2018, designer KITX exchanged with artisans Pasifik Creations to create a look that highlights tradition and ancient crafts. The look was unveiled at Buckingham Palace on February 19, 2018, and later moved to the Australian High Commission, London, where it was open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.
Austalia: Designer KITX
Kit Willow is showing the fashion world how ‘to do’ sustainability. Launching her brand KITX a few years back, Kit has stuck hard and fast to her responsible business practices, examining her supply-chain and consciously sourcing every material and component to minimise the impact on our planet’s natural precious resources.
Solomon Islands: Artisans Pasifik Creations
When Pacific islander Alfred Samosoni tried to buy arts and crafts from his homeland, he discovered it wasn’t easy. Knowing the quality and unique cultural crafts available from the islands, Samosoni set himself the task of connecting artisans with consumers, and built Pasifik Creations to showcase and promote the crafts. 

Shell Money

Through Pasifik Creations, the Commonwealth Exchange discovered a group of artisans to help on the project: Chriscentia, a weaver, and Anna, who leads a team of ladies talented at creating ‘shell money’ beading.

Once a form of currency, these strings of polished beads have been made by hand for centuries. In Malaita Island (part of the Solomon Islands) shell money remains a fundamental part of their culture, used ceremonially and for the exchange of goods between tribes.

Traditional Craftsmanship

The craft of making the beads is led by women and children, leaving the men to collect the shells and the polish the final beads. The colours are achieved through a drying process, the most difficult colours to achieve (and therefore the most valuable) being red and orange.

The story behind the look
The gown created by KITX has a bodice and skirt made from lightweight GOTS certified organic crepe wool. Trochus shell beads are an integral part of the design, drawing attention to the drape of the wool in the skirt.

Illustration of the dress

The Skirt

The skirt was made from lightweight GOTS certified organic crepe wool sourced from a Woolmark approved mill.

Traditional Straw Skirt

The bottom of the dress featured a traditional straw skirt from the Solomon Islands.


The look was embellished with ‘shell money’ beads made by hand by a cooperative of women expert at this ancient craft.

Final look on display at Buckingham Palace, 19 February 2018

Final look on display at the Australian High Commission, London, 22 February 2018

Credits: Story

This content has been specifically curated for the Google Arts & Culture platform on behalf of the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition that launched on the 19th of February at Buckingham Palace in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.

The project, created and managed by Eco-Age, with the support of The Commonwealth Fashion Council and The British Fashion Council.

More information about the images is available by clicking on them.
Read more about the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange at

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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