Looking for innovative designs in raw cotton
“Green is the new black” according to influential fashion critic Suzy Menkes from the International Herald Tribune. This journalist who attends over 600 fashion shows a year is not referring to the colour itself, of course. After spending a number of years in relative obscurity, eco fashion is now drawing the interest of increasing numbers of large, important textile firms, fashion houses and labels who want to explore the concept of sustainable fashion. Eco fashion is also being addressed by academia in Germany, a clear reflection of the growing power of the green mindset as a social current. At Esmod, the international art academy for fashion in Berlin, the first crop of students is currently enrolled in the “Sustainability in Fashion” master’s programme.
This is the perfect opportunity for the Aid by Trade Foundation to personally approach talented young people and launch an international design contest. From February to July 2012, the foundation will work together with textile and advertising companies, and the renowned fashion design schools ESMOD (Germany), LISOF (South Africa), Johari (Kenya), the Buru Buru Insititute (Kenya) and CPUT (South Africa) to organise the “Cotton made in Africa Fashion Contest 2012“. The contest calls for an innovative work of art made of raw cotton that combines fashion and sustainability and represents the initiative’s symbol raw cotton in a creative way and with an eye to fashion.
Under the motto “design not jute“, the aim is to support the fashion industry’s new consciousness and dedication to working towards conserving the environment and social sustainability.
An eight-person jury, comprising well-known representatives from journalism, fashion design and textiles, like designer Julia Starp and Jacqueline Shaw (founder of social enterprise africafashionguide), will evaluate the creations submitted. Some of the selection criteria include the innovative and creative processing of the raw cotton and the use of original details or unusual cuts. The first-place winner will get to see his or her design realised in CmiA raw cotton and have the possibility to create a t-shirt for ECOREPUBLIC, OTTO’s sustainable product line. Their work of art will also be exclusively presented at the “Albert Watson – Memories and Visions feat. Faces of Africa” exhibition from 14 September 2012 to 6 January 2013 in the House of Photography in the Deichtorhallen Hamburg.
The exhibition “Albert Watson – Memories and Visions feat. Faces of Africa” is flanked by a monograph exhibition of Watson’s previously unseen vintage and Polaroid work.
Cotton made in Africa is an initiative of the Aid by Trade Foundation, which helps African smallholder cotton farmers improve their lives through trade. At the core of this initiative is a “demand alliance” of global textile companies that buy sustainably produced African cotton specifically for the world market. At present, approximately 230,000 smallholder farmers from Burkina Faso, Benin, Zambia, Côte d’Ivoire and Malawi take part in the program. In 2011 already 15 million fabrics produced from cotton by Cotton made in Africa were sold worldwide. For 2012, the initiative is expecting 20 million sold textiles.
Competitions like this will add to the work of CmiA to bring to light the availability of African cotton and one that we support too via our African Cotton Campaign. We will keep you posted to the developments of this competition as it engages student designers with African cotton.