This year, for the very first time, the Ethical Fashion Initiative (EFI) brought both Central Asian designers and artisans from around the world to Milan Design Week, the world’s most important design event. The Kârvân Journey exhibition (a nod to the caravans that travelled the Silk Road, a fertile ground for exchange of goods, ideas, and culture) took place at the Alcova gallery space in Milan, from June 5th to June 12th. Curated by Cristiano Seganfreddo, it presented a vibrant and contemporary demonstration of culture, life, local material and techniques, with the support of UNESCO and the European Union.
After several terms of the Accelerator with African fashion designers, Ethical Fashion Initiative expanded the programme in 2021 to work with homeware designers based in the central Asian countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan. The mission of the Accelerator is to bring to the world stage new design talent and the work of master craftspeople and artisans.
The featured designers were:
TIGRAN ERDMAN – Product and furniture design (Uzbekistan)
UYA NOMAD – Product and interior design (Kyrgyzstan)
ORO – Interior and product design (Tajikistan)
CAMEL WOOL – Textile design and production (Turkmenistan)
AIKEN – Fashion and product design (Kazakhstan)
The journey started in the context of EFI’s Accelerator program, in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan and Turkmenistan, where five emerging homeware designers have produced collections along with EFI.
Alongside the new labels, two established designers also joined the collective, Sam Baron from France and Cheick Diallo from Mali.
For the Ethical Fashion Initiative, lifestyle choices impact livelihoods. EFI creates and strengthens social enterprises in emerging economies, connecting discerning international brands in fashion, interiors, fine foods and the arts with talented local artists, designers, artisans, and micro-producers. Savvy investors, pro-poor champions, and mindful consumers find value in a virtuous circle that creates not just premium products, but also stable, dignified work, and creative and resilient women, men and communities.
The EU and UNESCO support EFI’s cultural activities. More than any other product, culture reflects a people’s uniqueness, value and heritage. Strengthening culture sectors builds social capital and reinforces identities, as well as generating trade and business opportunities. EFI showcases creativity and talent in sectors like art, photography, cinema and music, working with the private sector to strengthen culture sectors and increase cultural exports.
For more information, check out the EFI website.