Fashion Bridges is an innovative project conceived by the Embassy of Italy in Pretoria, South Africa, and implemented in partnerships with the National Chamber for Italian Fashion (Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana – CNMI) and Polimoda, with the support of ICE Agency, the involvement of the South African Fashion Week, the participation of the Center for Italian Fashion in Florence (Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana) and the Nelson Mandela Forum Firenze.
Launched in July 2021, the project aims at developing and strengthening economic relations between Italy and South Africa in the fashion sector. It is founded on the values of inclusion, sustainability and internationalization, for which CNMI confirms its commitment.
Thanks to a dedicated mentoring program by Polimoda, four former Polimoda students (Domenico Orefice, Ilaria Bellomo, Julian Cerro and Alessia Dovero) worked in pair with four young South African designers (Jacques Bam, Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu, Sipho Mbuto and Michael Peter Reid) to create capsule collections. CNMI supported the designers by involving a few fashion experts and prestigious buyers that gave them the chance to deepen the commercial and business aspects of their work.
The work carried out during the training course has resulted in the creation of a capsule collection for each couple, that was presented at the Fashion Hub of CNMI during Milan Fashion Week in September with an impactful setting, representing an opportunity to spread the message of inclusion and contamination of cultures.
To provide an immersive and educational experience during the fashion week, CNMI also organized many activities for the fashion designers and the South African delegation, including participating in fashion shows and presentations, visiting companies and meeting both in person and digitally with fashion experts and international buyers at the Hub.
At the CNMI Fashion Hub Opening Event, the stylists could also present their collections to the international press and buyers, and to the fashion community composed by influencers, showroom representatives and experts. During the opening ceremony, two couples of Fashion Bridges stylists won the important award assigned by Camera Buyer Italia – The Best Shops, that is a mentoring lesson with an influential Italian multi-brand luxury boutique (and member of the board Camera Buyer Italia – The Best Shops), on issues related to buying, that provided for useful recommendations to approach the retail world and make their brand identity more appealing from the commercial and marketing point of view.
Milan was the first stage of a collaboration that continued in Johannesburg, where stylists and collections were presented, at the end of October, during the South African Fashion Week. Also in South Africa, collections have been exhibited to local and international press and to a wide audience, both in presence and digitally.
The four young South African talents, that presented their collections, created in collaboration with the four young Italian designers, in September at the Fashion Hub of CNMI and in October during South African Fashion Week in Johannesburg, will now have the chance to introduce their brands (Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu; Xavier Sadan South Africa (Pty) Ltd.; Sipho Mbuto Sipho; The BAM Collective) to the world of buyers and retailers, thanks to the support of Camera Buyer Italia – The Best Shops. During Fashion Week in February, a fashion video will be broadcasted on the digital channels of Camera Buyer Italia – The Best Shops to illustrate the collections of the designers and their strong appeal to the heritage of South Africa.
The second edition of the Fashion Bridges project will take place next September with a selection of new talents from South Africa, who, with their creativity and the mentoring of Polimoda, and with the support of CNMI, will create a new collection with 100% Italian fabrics and materials. In this second phase, the goal of the Embassy is to promote the excellence of the Italian manufacture and high-quality fabrics and materials available to the Italian fashion industry through the creativity of the African designers.