The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is an initiative for established and emerging fashion talent from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries to showcase the power and potential of artisan fashion skills to deliver new networks, trade links and highlight sustainability.
Daniel Hatton first thought of the idea of an international council for the fashion industry while studying MA Applied Imagination in the Creative Industries. Since graduating in 2012, he has established the Commonwealth Fashion Council (CFC), a Commonwealth-accredited organisation which supports sustainable development, education, youth and gender empowerment in fashion industries across 52 countries.
In July 2018, the CFC celebrated its official launch through a number of high profile events and programmes including the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange which saw all 53 Commonwealth countries unite for the first time to celebrate their fashion industries, artisans and traditions in an exhibition at Buckingham Palace during London Fashion Week.
Launched by Commonwealth Secretary General the Rt Hon Patricia Scotland and Livia Firth, founder of sustainability consultancy Eco-Age, the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is a major new initiative that promotes new networks, trade links and lasting sustainable supply chains. The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange is an ambitious project with long term aims that was developed in partnership with Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MATCHESFASHION.COM.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange was conceived by ardent ethical campaigner Livia Firth. The idea was to pair designers with artisans from across the 53 nations of the Commonwealth and asks them to create one fashion look. “This is a project rich in partnerships and creative co-design. For example, one of our very talented designers from India is paired with an artisan group in Tuvalu. As someone who is passionate about joining the threads of global fashion and creating real partnerships you can imagine how exciting it is for us to be involved.”
The Launch at Buckingham Palace
On behalf of Her Majesty The Queen, Head of the Commonwealth, HRH The Duchess of Cambridge and HRH The Countess of Wessex hosted a reception to celebrate and showcase designs, designers and artisans from across the Commonwealth’s 53 countries who participated in the inaugural Commonwealth Fashion Exchange (CFE).
The reception saw 30 CFE creations displayed in the Palace’s State Apartment. From Thursday February 22, the looks were displayed at the Australian High Commission, London, before being exhibited during the Commonwealth Summit itself. Both exhibitions at Buckingham Palace and High Commission of Australia were carefully curated by VOGUE’s International Editor at Large, Hamish Bowles.
The Palace celebration included guests from the fashion industry across the Commonwealth nation with attendees including Anna Wintour, Edward Enninful, Livia Firth, Nadja Swarovski, Neelam Gill, Nigel Gosse, Ulric Jerome, Naomi Campbell, Stella McCartney, Adwoa Aboah, and Caroline Rush alongside many of the designers and artisans who created the CFE designs and representatives of the newly-affiliated Commonwealth Fashion Council.
The project is particularly timely as a global wave of interest in handmade products and authentic luxury causes a reassessment of the artisan fashion trades. In this way, The Fashion Exchange brings the values of the modern-day Commonwealth – women’s empowerment, ethical production and supply chains, innovation, economic growth and poverty reduction – to life through the globally appealing medium of fashion.