Launched at the end of 2017, the European programme UNITED FASHION includes seven European organisations guiding young fashion designers with bases in Brussels (MAD Brussels), Antwerp (Flanders DC), Berlin (German Fashion Council), Riga (Baltic Fashion Federation), Skopje (Fashion Week End Skopje), Lisbon (Moda Lisboa), and Lille/Roubaix (Maisons de Mode).
From its very start, United Fashion’s core aim has been to address the realities confronting young designers, be they problems dealing with production, sourcing or distribution in contrast to their larger, more established fashion industry competitors. Launched by MAD Brussels Fashion and Design Platform, this programme is devoted to encouraging “a culture of designers” in Europe, helping young talents become real fashion entrepreneurs, and improving their competitive edge on the international level.
Over a four-year period, United Fashion’s calendar-based programme has given and will continue to give 150 European designers the opportunity to show their collections while learning about different markets and developing their skills in the following areas: fashion technology, sustainable fashion, production, technical expertise, and commercial distribution.
In concrete terms, this means the organisations take turns hosting each other at major events in their home countries by inviting two or three designers from each of their counterpart organisations to take part. It was through this partnership that Maisons de Mode designers have been invited to Berlin, Skopje, Riga, Antwerp and Lisbon to represent France’s young creativity. The programme will come to a close in Brussels in 2021.
Berlin (July 2018 and January 2019)
The European Union decided to support young designers by putting into place a programme launched by MAD Brussels. It is composed of seven support organisations – including Maisons de Mode, chosen to represent France. Until 2021, 150 emerging European brands and labels will benefit from this programme. In July 2018, the Fashion Council Germany hosted the first United Fashion event allowing nine European designers to acquaint themselves with the German market as well as to familiarise themselves with questions linked to sustainability and fashion technology. For four days, the labels invited were able to show their collections at the Premium trade show. They could also take part in conferences and workshops. At the end of this trip, they met with two consultants who advised them on how to approach positioning themselves on German market, working on the theme of small production and limited editions.
Philippe Périssé and Daniel Essa represented France at this edition.
Riga (October 2018)
In October 2018, 14 designers were chosen by the Baltic Fashion Federation to take part in Riga Fashion Week as part of the United Fashion project. Immediately on arrival in the Latvian capital, they were treated to the official opening night featuring fashion shows and performances. The following three days were filled with meeting people and exchanging knowledge and experiences through conferences and workshops on brand identity. There was also a showroom open to buyers as well as to the general public coming to attend fashion shows staged for the event.
Maisons de Mode was represented by the Gamme Blanche brand, which, as a result of their participation there, is now sold at Bold Concept Store, the largest designer concept store in Riga.
Sköpje (March 2019)
It was then the turn of Sköpje, the capital of North Macedonia, to welcome the United Fashion project for Sköpje Fashion Weekend in March 2019. More than 30 designers (half of whom were chosen by the European project) came together for this four-day event. This time, the designers familiarised themselves with problems linked to craftsmanship and production, such as the Balkan Basin, which is surrounded by factories producing textiles. Designers were also able to visit businesses and meet local professionals to discuss the possibility of producing in countries on the outskirts of Europe. They were also able to present their collections during the opening fashion show and in a B2B showroom.
The two designers representing France and Maisons de Mode at this event were Oh Suzy! and Hanfaz, both of Marché des Modes.
Lille (September 2019)
It was Maisons de Mode’s turn to welcome 14 European designers to Lille on the occasion of 48H Maisons de Mode.
For four days, they were able to take part in events, show their creations in a designer showroom, participate in conferences, and be a part of the Maisons de Mode Fashion Show in front of an audience of professionals. They also had the chance to broaden their network and to get a glimpse of what opportunities exist in distribution, the theme for their visit to France.
Antwerp (November 2019)
The next stop for the United Fashion project was Antwerp, where designers took part in a programme prepared by Flanders DC: four days focused on Fashion Technology.
Designers chosen could also attend the Fashion Talks, the Belgian Fashion Awards and Creative Ville. These inspiring events allowed each designer to explore both fashion technology and eco-responsibility more deeply.
But before getting to all that, Flanders DC had organised a Pitch Battle where each designer had three minutes to pitch their project and how it was innovative to a jury of industry professionals. On this occasion, Maisons de Mode was represented by two labels: Uma Oath and Urban Circus.
Lisbon (March 2020)
Lisbon opened its doors to the United Fashion project at the beginning of March 2020, right after Paris Fashion Week. It also allowed the uninitiated to discover ModaLisboa Fashion Week.
Fifteen European designers were able to find out about producing small runs of their collections in Portugal through conferences and workshops. These designers could also show their latest collections in a showroom reserved for professionals and through a unique presentation to the general public.
Representing Maisons de Mode were Voir(e) and Lucie Brochard.võ.
Working on the United Fashion project to support European designers in their daily challenges are the following entities: Mad Brussels, Baltic Fashion Federation, Fashion Council Germany, Fashion Weekend Sköpje, Moda Lisboa and Maisons de Mode.