Vogue Italia editor Franca Sozzani has been hard at work fulfilling her duties as the first-ever Goodwill Ambassador for Fashion 4 Development, producing the African issue for L’Uomo Vogue and initiating global commerce partnerships with retailers like Yoox.com. Yesterday, she made her way to NYC for a roundtable discussion at the United Nations to talk about the organization’s progress and upcoming projects. She was joined by other fashion heavyweights committed to creating jobs in communities and sustainability around the world through fashion, including EDUN CEO Janice Sullivan, president of the Accessories Council Karen Giberson, and F4D founder Evie Evangelou.
Of the experience thus far, she told Style.com, “I learned that nothing is impossible. I already knew, but now I am sure.” She continued, “We met so many young people [while traveling around Africa], some of them are very talented and some are not—not all of us could be the editor in chief of a magazine, everyone has a different story. But I put this group of designers together and they made a good collection and it sold out in two weeks on Yoox.” Sozzani admitted she has identified several talented African designers who might some day land their collections on the runways in the major fashion cities and that she’s currently working on a partnership with Saks to showcase some of these designers. For now, however, the plan is still in its earlier stages. “We don’t have money to make a showroom for them yet. I am the showroom,” she said, laughing.
In the meantime, they are striving to establish fashion business partnerships in Africa like China and Brazil have set into place. Sozzani pointed out, however, that the situation in Africa is not like China. “No one ever told them the richness of their work is worth more than they are getting paid for their craft,” she said. She has started trying to change that by prompting major designers to create small collections and have them produced in Africa. “It doesn’t mean the clothes will look African, it just means they are being produced there and creates more jobs. Lots of designers are joining us on this,” she said. On the subject of major designers, it was announced that the organization has a big project lined up with the likes of Donatella Versace and Roberto Cavalli, with more details coming on that soon. When reminded that while she was talking about her latest do-good endeavors in Africa, the menswear shows are still in full swing, she responded, “I am not missing the men’s shows; I don’t like them at all. To see a beautiful woman walking down the runway is so different. Some men’s collection are really nice (Prada’s was amazing), but some are just ridiculous, you know?”
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