For the first time, The Commonwealth came together to showcase a wealth of design and artisan fashion talent across its 53 countries. Selected design talent included 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 collectively represented all 53 commonwealth member countries in a major new initiative in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in London during April 2018. The ‘looks’ created through the Fashion Exchange were showcased at a special reception at Buckingham Palace during London Fashion Week in February.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange was an ambitious project with long term aims, that was developed in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM, who will launch an edited collection in September this year.
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 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 brought 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 were celebrated during London Fashion Week at a reception at Buckingham Palace on Friday 19th February, before moving to a public exhibition at the Australian High Commission, London, on February 21st, and other locations in London where the exhibition was open to the public in the run up to the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit, April 2018.