Can fashion ever be local? Probably not. In today’s world, the fashion business value chain is tightly woven into a globalized production, supplier and distribution system. It can’t not take into account global power structures and global relations, especially when it comes to the big industry players. The huge challenges that the sector faces — environmental, social, financial, technological, creative — have to a large extent global roots, and most answers will need to be sought at supranational level if they are to be effective.
Although MAD is here to strengthen the fashion and design sector in Brussels, we know that we also need to be conscious of what happens outside our own backyard.
Since MAD was founded in 2011, we have promoted and supported Brussels (fashion) designers in the development of their international activities. Every year, we accompany creators to key international events in the fashion and design sector and to specific European and international markets, from Paris to Japan via the US. And we regularly organize a Brussels showroom to present our Brussels-based talents to invited international buyers and producers.
But that’s not all. Between 2014 and 2017, we brought fashion councils and associations from across Europe to Brussels to attend the European Fashion Summit MADIFESTO. Main topics on the agenda were the current status of fashion design in Europe, the major challenges facing designers and labels now and in the future, and the main objectives and possible solutions to secure the future of European creativity. During these exchanges and opportunities for reflection, participants unanimously voiced the strong need for the sector to join forces and work more collaboratively in order to overcome common challenges. This is how the idea for a European project took shape, which would strengthen the fashion sector in Europe by giving independent labels and creators the tools and skills to better develop their business in a globalized world.
With that in mind, MAD took the lead in creating a European partnership and together we were able to obtain a total €4 million in European funding for the fashion sector (Creative Europe strand). United Fashion, as it is called, is the first European project that promotes entrepreneurial creativity and innovation with the aim of enhancing business opportunities for European fashion designers. Running from 2017 until 2021, it brings together eight fashion support associations from Belgium, France, Germany, Latvia, Macedonia, Portugal and the UK, and in that time will provide insight into different (European) creative, technological and business opportunities to the 150-plus participating fashion SMEs.
MAD initiated in 2017 'United Fashion', a European partnership with 7 other partners
We are now two years into United Fashion and have noticed that the partnership is growing, creating fertile ground for more exchanges and qualitative synergies. However, the goal is to go even further. In cooperating with partners from across Europe, we are working hard to put a long-term structure in place: a European network for fashion design. It is to function as an umbrella organization that will allow for a better-connected fashion ecosystem encouraging exchange and collaboration between countries and professionals, better anchoring the fashion sector in the present while preparing for the future, and providing a catalyst for change. By doing so, it will ultimately bring a stronger voice to the European fashion business value chain. Much needed in our global world!