The Ethical Fashion Initiative is a public-private partnership of a UN programme (under the ITC: a joint agency of the UN and WTO), a group of social enterprises and several industry partners. Founded in 2009, today EFI works at the intersection of international development, the creative industries and the fashion and lifestyle sector, offering sustainability services, products and development projects.
The premiere edition of their eight-month programme featuring designers from Central Asia will support five designers and design studios to grow their businesses and access international markets.
The Designer Accelerator supports local, sustainable labels to expand internationally and create employment opportunities for artisans. Beginning December 2022, the eight-month programme will provide homeware brands and designers tailored support to develop their business models, enhance their sustainability credentials and amplify their creative capacities. The chosen designers will receive support in a number of areas including production and creative direction, accessing new markets, and building a sustainable enterprise.
A new chapter unfolds with the commencement of the Homeware Accelerator as it is the first time EFI works with brands from the region, extending the range of the Designer Accelerator programmes to include an edition specific to homeware and interior design.
Five finalists -Altai Osmo, Camel Wool, ORO, Tigran Erdman, AIKEN- were chosen to take part in the first edition of the EFI’s Homeware Accelerator programme. Kyrgyzstan-based Altai Osmo by designer Altinay Osmoeva offers minimalist pieces that reflect world heritages and artisan lore from all over the world. ORO, founded by Murodjon Sharifov, is a design studio located in Tajikistan committed to the creation of experimental projects that intertwine art with Central Asian traditions. Tigran Erdman, an Uzbek design studio, is the product of Artem Erdman, an industrial designer that works with numerous raw materials including plywood, wood, and silk. Aigerim Akenova’s AIKEN is a Kazakhstan-based label that has been a pioneer in sustainable practices in the country. Lastly, headquartered in Turkmenistan, Camel Wool by Shasenem Garlyyeva offers all-natural dye-free products made using 100% camel wool, a staple in Turkmen culture.
Meet the Brands
"Since learning about the Ethical Fashion Initiative in 2013, it has been my DREAM to be a part of it, and my wish came true eight years later! I'm honoured and delighted to join the EFI Accelerator Programme to learn all of the skills I'll need to assist my brand's sustainable initiatives become stronger, reach an international level, as well as being a catalyst for the growth of a community of craftsmen and designers!" - Aigerim Akenova, AIKEN
"I have joined the programme to build the capacity of my team of design studio, ORO, which consists of 23 young designers who work with local artisan groups to promote their work through our studio and into the local market. I hope the Ethical Fashion Initiative will help me to support homeware brands in expanding their products and brands internationally." - Murodjon Sharifov, ORO
"Having lived all my life in a country with a huge handicraft heritage, I myself have gone from a craftsman to a product designer. My task as a designer and artisan is different: to reveal and rethink the craft and national potential of Uzbekistan, and to adapt it to modern design challenges and other markets. Everything has development. This is the reason for participating in the Accelerator." - Artem Erdman, Tigran Erdman
"Thank you for choosing us for this programme and for giving us the opportunity to develop in this area, teaching us how to promote our products in the future… I hope that the Accelerator will help us and provide an opportunity to present our unique products on the international markets of Europe. We look forward to productive ideas and cooperation." - Shasenem Garlyyeva, Camel Wool
“Working with natural and handmade raw materials by artisans is at the core of my ethos. It is incredibly important for me to collaborate with artisans and design new contemporary products that are made from eco materials, locally sourced and handmade. (...) Sustainability in my view is what will allow centuries old traditions and knowledge of handicrafts to continue its existence through the collaborative practice of art by artisans and designers.” Altynai Osmoeva, Altai Osmo
Learn more about the Ethical Fashion Initiative by visiting their website.