This article was last updated on April 16, 2022
The Duchess of Cambridge has always been stylish, but her latest fashion project is also eco-friendly. With Kate Middleton’s new fashion exchange, she’s urging everyone in the UK and beyond to come together in the name of sustainability.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange with unite all 52 Commonwealth countries — the UK and its former British colonies — in the name of fashion. Specifically, they will come together to create “a one-of-a-kind sustainable outfit,” according to People, that will be unveiled during London Fashion Week on February 19 at Buckingham Palace. Yes, Middleton will be there to judge these environmentally-sound lewks.
The initiative — which also has the support of Sophie, the Countess of Wessex — was created by Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age consultancy (and spouse of the actor Colin), as a way of getting a younger generation to think about the societal implications of fashion.
“Fashion is a huge weapon, because we are all connected to the clothes we wear,” Firth told Vogue UK, calling out the industry’s focus on fast fashion, which produces “high volumes of cheap clothes through an overwhelmingly female, low-wage workforce.”
“By utilizing the commonwealth…and through the potential of the artisan fashion trade (which will be highlighted in the exhibition),” Firth added, “we can have a positive impact on female empowerment and poverty reduction.”
Thirty-one designers will showcase their work, including New Zealand’s Karen Walker, Bangladesh’s Bibi Russell, and Stella McCartney and Burberry, representing the United Kingdom, along with 26 artisans including Euphemia Sydney Davies from Sierra Leone, whose line Sydney-Davies has her collaborating with a master weaver from Ghana.
The point of the project isn’t only sustainability, though it “has collaboration and partnership at its heart,” according to Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth, which will hold the Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April. The hope is that it will make the upcoming summit’s “themes of prosperity, sustainability and fairness very real and tangible.”
For those who don’t get an invite to Buckingham Palace, the outfits will be on public display at London’s Australia House on February 21 and other London cities before the designs make their way to New York this fall for Fashion Week.
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