A new initiative called “Fashion Bridges – I Ponti della Moda” has been launched by Italy. The project aims to promote collaboration between the Italian and South African fashion industries.

Three young South African designers (Jacques Bam, Fikile Zamagcino sokhulu, and Sipho Mbuto) will be paired with three young Italian designers (Polimoda) (Julian Cerro, llaria Bellomo, and Domenico Orefice).

Designer Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulo walks the runway in Fikile Sokhulo fashion during the autumn/winter 2019 collections at South Africa Fashion Week at Sandton City Mall on October 23, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA – OCTOBER 23: Designer Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulo walks the runway in Fikile Sokhulo fashion during the autumn/winter 2019 collections at South Africa Fashion Week at Sandton City Mall on October 23, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by J. Countess/Getty Images)

The initiative is the result of a collaboration between the Embassy of Italy in Pretoria, the South African Fashion Week (SAFW), the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Polimoda, the Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, Lineapelle, and the Italian Trade Agency (ICE), with the support of the Nelson Mandela Forum Firenze.

After completing a virtual training program developed by Polimoda and the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, each pair will design a joint capsule collection, which will be shown during Milan Fashion Week in September and Johannesburg Fashion Week in October.

South African Fashion Week (SAFW) founder and director Lucilla Booyzen said of the initiative, “Strength lies in the diversity of cultures.” “Within this diversity, sharing ideas, knowledge, marketing, and resources [makes] collaboration an essential tool for the future of fashion in the world.”

The Fashion Bridges logo for the “Fashion Bridges – I Ponti della Moda” was created to represent a new, inclusive, and long-term fashion collaboration between Italy and South Africa. The design features the ‘Ponte Vecchio’ bridge in Florence as a nod to Italy and, in particular, Polimoda, the main player in the special training program, as well as the traditional South African’shweshwe’ fabric, which fills the bridge frame as a nod to South Africa and its style.

Fashion Bridges Ponti Della Moda Logo.

“This logo represents a new creative platform between Italy and South Africa, aimed at future business development through an exchange of cultural heritage and opportunities,” the organization said.

The Fashion Bridges Programme Is Structured on Three Pillars:

1. Cradle of Fashion

The program prioritizes talent recruitment by forming an academic partnership between some of Italy’s and South Africa’s most prestigious and internationally recognized fashion schools and entities.

Three talented neo-graduates from a number of South African fashion schools have been paired with three of Polimoda’s most talented neo-graduates. Julian Cerro, llaria Bellomo, and Domenico Orefice were chosen from Italy, while Jacques Bam, Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu, and Sipho Mbuto were chosen from South Africa.

The six young designers will take part in a Polimoda-developed virtual training program, which will be supported by the Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana.

The young designers will be paired up, and their collaboration will result in a joint capsule collection that will be shown in Milan during Milan Fashion Week in September 2021 and Johannesburg during South African Fashion Week in October 2021. Lineapelle, the world’s largest international leather fair, will provide materials for the designers to use in their creations.

2. Young Lions

This pillar promotes and expands the market for established Italian and South African fashion designers who are still young. Two emerging designers (South African Michael Xavier Sadan and Italian Alessia Dovero) will be assisted in identifying business opportunities and contacting local agents in South Africa and Italy.

3. Mining for Fashion Materials and Tools

This facilitates round-table discussions and business-to-business meetings between fashion and textile companies from South Africa and Italy.

The embassy, with the help of the Italian Trade Agency in Johannesburg, is hosting a matchmaking event in Johannesburg at the end of October, focusing on producers and buyers of raw materials, fabrics, leather, and textile machinery, with the goal of strengthening technical skills and supply chains in both countries’ fashion industries, with a focus on quality, sustainability, and consistency.

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