Monday, December 17, 2012

Fashion 4 Development Holiday Party and Interview with Founder Evie Evangelou

Fashion 4 Development threw a fabulous holiday party at the X'Tige Showroom in New York City. I’ve never been to this showroom before so it was quite exciting to see it as well as meet the legendary Evie Evangelou, founder of Fashion 4 Development. 

Fashion 4 Development (F4D) is a global awareness campaign that unites diplomacy, media, business and the creative industries in full support of the United Nation's Millennium Development goals. Its mission is to harness the power of the fashion and beauty industries to implement creative strategies for sustainable economic growth and independence for communities worldwide.

F4D partnered with XTige to showcase fashion designers from developing nations and provide expertise needed to successfully market them in global markets.

I had a chance to catch up with Evie Evangelou for an exclusive interview about her work with Fashion 4 Development.
Alina Fayer and Evie Evangelou 

Can you tell me about Fashion 4 Development and the reason you decided to start it?

Evie Evangelou: Actually, I started it as a show. I wanted to know what the fashion industry was doing to support the millennium development and to support uplifting people out of poverty. I convinced a media group out of the United Nations called South South News to give me the opportunity to have my own Fashion 4 Development show. I went out with a camera crew and started interviewing designers and saying okay so what are you doing to support the millennium development? Are you producing in developing countries? That went on and on and the show took a real fire. People started watching the show. They thought it was great and the show was being transmitted mainly to heads of states, diplomats and first ladies. It was that group of the UN that was watching this show. My show was getting a lot of viewers and it was fun to see how the world of diplomacy was responding to this. Also, after meeting Bibi Russell who had initially launched Fashion For Development ours is Fashion with the number 4. Bibi had launched Fashion For Development in Bangladeshi in 1996 with UNESCO and I was in awe of what she had done. She was able to employ 160,000 people in Bangladeshi through this. She’s more on the ground and works with the people hands on. I’m more of an overall strategist in international relations and branding. I said I can take this to a much larger level and a global level through a global platform. I decided to create the Fashion 4 Development platform and that’s how it began. 

What are your future goals for Fashion 4 Development?

Evie Evangelou: There are many things happening for the future. We are working of course to develop distribution and sales for designers in Africa and Asia. Partnerships with well known brand houses that we can do with different workshops. We’re looking into workshops that are already in existence and help to create fair trade. We want to empower women. In the sense that a lot of these women were not trained with the skill set. We can assist them to be trained and to be able to produce a garment that is sell-able. What happens in a lot of these developing countries is that they produce things but they’re not in the quality level that we will accept in order to get that mass distribution and enable them to sell in the United States, Europe and in some of these other countries where they would love to sell. Even their own people don’t buy what’s made there so you have Africans shopping in London and Paris. They’re not shopping in Africa because they don’t believe in their own quality. This happens in developing countries and what we need to do is change that. Take that level of design and take it to the next level. It’s not a pity party it’s about can we find that raw talent and sculpt it a little bit and get them to create what would be acceptable in these markets and be able to compete. We’ve been working on that and we’ve scouted and found designers that can do that. There’s also the issue of do they have the equipment to do it and sometimes they don’t. There’s a way of combining where some of the work is done there and then it gets finished in Italy for example. But it’s still employing people there because obviously they don’t have what it takes to finish a product in order to sell it in the market place. In 2012 we were able to produce 1.2 million worth of sales in Africa. We’re also able to get $400,000 of pharmaceuticals to Uganda and Kenya. We took nothing of that. Although we are a private sector, a social entrepreneurial business model. It’s not a charity but we’ve needed to give a lot more in the beginning to start it so this was kind of our investment. Our goal is to grow this into an economic stimulus and development. It becomes a business and something that is sustainable. It’s not about giving hand-outs. It’s about up-lifting these people so they feel that they have what it takes to support themselves and to grow. They will have the ability to maintain a living in the future and not just take a hand-out for today. I don’t want this to be a charity. There are too many out there and they’re lovely and they help when they can and they do what they can. I want this to be a totally different platform which is creating opportunity. 

You mentioned doing a special program with my alma mater, The Fashion Institute of Technology. Can you tell me about that? 

Evie Evangelou: We’re basically starting a scholarship program. We’re starting in China where we’re going to bring a student or two to study at FIT, depending on how much money we can raise the first year. This will be for the full four year program and will include living expenses, etc. Then we’re going to have them intern with a well known brand that they can learn from in 3-6 months. They must commit to go back to their rural village and develop a workshop there. If we’re going to do this for them they cannot stay here and work. They have to go back because they need to employ the people that are there. We’re giving them the tools to do it so we will only accept students who are willing and sign on the dotted line to go back and do this. When they’re ready to go back we will help them with some angel investment or help however we can to get it going. 

Angelo Lambrou design
Angelo Lambrou design
Angelo Lambrou design
Angelo Lambrou design
Angelo Lambrou design

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