Yesterday the world's leading men's fashion festival was home to a groundbreaking event showcasing the creativity of Arica's fashion industry. 'Generation Africa' allowed four African-designed labels the opportunity to present their collections on the runway at the Pitti menswear fair in Florence.
The event was organised by the Ethical Fashion Initiative that is backed by the United Nations and the World Trade Organization and included, as models, three asylum seekers who had recently arrived in Europe.
Founder of the Initiative, Simone Cipriani, announced the creation of a pilot program to train a group of 30 asylum seekers, with the aim of finding them permanent work in Italy's fashion industry if their visas are granted. Speaking after the event he said “Africa is one of today’s creative poles and this show proves that African designers speak about art, life and innovation. At the same time, we are in an age in which many Africans come to Europe as migrants. We believe in a program that enables them to work in the value chain of fashion.”
The show included woven and beaded panels by South African designers Lukhanyo Mdingi and Nicholas Coutts (of label Lukhanyo Mdingi X Nicholas Coutts) and Yoruba tribal imagery by Gozi Ochonogor of label U.Mi-1. South African designers Jody Paulsen and Keith Henning (of AKJP) focused on minimal workwear and designer Walé Oyéjidé (of Ikiré Jones) showcased tailored looks with printed shawls, bags, and jackets.