In the period of January – June 2021, the Macedonian Fashion Association “Concept Fashion Cluster” implemented the project “RESPONSIBLE FUTURE”, a mentoring and research project in the field of inclusion, crafts and fashion, designed for hearing impaired students from the state school center “Partenija Zografski” in Skopje.
The Macedonian Fashion Association (MFA) aimed to provide young people with opportunities for a future without limitations, because everyone deserves a chance to fall in love with learning.
A group of 30 students worked with a number of mentors, professors, artists, peers, community volunteers, and university interns. All implemented activities are aimed at these young people, in order to develop the necessary professional skills for employment.
Drawing inspiration from the cultural heritage, MFA developed the innovation capacities of the students, while a large number of hands-on workshops significantly helped to build the knowledge and skills of the students.
The modern vocational program has given students a professional basis, with which they will be able to focus on the desired education or career within the desired profession.
In addition to the Swiss project Education for Employment in Northern Macedonia – E4E@мк, the implementation of the activities was also supported by the organization Open Style Lab, the institute Istituto Marangoni London School and other institutions and organizations, which enriched the story with much more content and quality.
During the implementation of all activities, especially the practical training workshops, MFA applied all safety measures for protection and prevention of COVID-19.
As part of the Responsible Future project, the young creative minds of the students carried out original, artistic and experimental works during the educational workshops on fashion, traditional pottery, contemporary ceramics, modern woodworking, product and graphic design etc.
The visit to the Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia in Skopje marked the beginning of the journey to change the way of inspiration for the new generation. The aim was to bring students closer to traditions and to pass on the heritage values, bridging the past, present and future. The visit opened their eyes to different ideas and perspectives, building a basis for creativity and critical thinking. In order to preserve the cultural heritage, engaging young people is the key to sustainability. To encourage and be proactive in his research and promotion, students were given creative tasks as a stimulus for their imagination, which is an integral part of the program.
The program for fashion vocational education started under the mentorship of the famous designer Irina Toseva and professor Ljubisa Saveski. The program was carefully designed for the young people with hearing impairment to develop visualization skills, drawing skills, attention to detail and knowledge of materials, sewing, knitting and tailoring techniques, including marketing and advertising promotion, which is essential for career in the fashion industry. The end result of the project action plan is a capsule collection made by the students.
The education on sustainability has opened up opportunities for young people to learn and engage with existing local and global movements, as well as to help them develop their own skills and interests for a more sustainable lifestyle and design. The growing trend towards recycled and ethically designed clothing does not only contribute to a “greener” planet. Today, sustainable design education can be a significant employment advantage in the creative industry. Using only old textile scraps that were later implemented into a final product within the capsule collection, students made the most of the potential with zero environmental waste.
Drawing inspiration from a visit to the Museum of the Republic of North Macedonia and the rich cultural heritage, the students were tasked with reviving traditional costumes, giving them a modern twist. Under the mentorship of the designer Irina Tosheva and Professor Ljubisa Saveski, a workshop for the fashion group was dedicated to reviving the ethno elements and combining them in a modern way, by sketching imaginative pieces of clothing and accessories.
During the fashion workshop, the students get acquainted with the work with textiles, ways of finishing and making cuts. The students then demonstrated their knowledge and skills, creating the first patterns on a sewing machine. After completing this workshop, the students dedicated themselves to the capsule collection with sustainable design, which is a modern interpretation of the Macedonian traditional costume.
By visiting the studio for production of modern furniture Rinocca, the group of students began the search for new knowledge and practical skills for woodworking as an activity. Under the mentorship of the designer Katerina Trpkovska and the engineer Despina Zdravkova, the students got acquainted with the basics of the modern wood industry i.e. the process of creating a piece of furniture – from idea to realization. Then the students found themselves in the role of “carpenters”, creating the first draft for their first product made of wood, together with the professor of fine arts Igor Kitanovski. After the automated computer production, the students incorporated their final finesse by hand.
Furthermore, the students got acquainted with the ancient techniques of traditional pottery, thanks to Slobodan Stoleski from the village of Vranestica, who is considered one of the best masters in this ancient craft.
Pottery is decorated with ancient tools such as paints, graphite, relief motifs, and with their various shapes and rich ornaments, they give the impression of a well-developed sense of art and imagination. With the support of the project Education for Employment in Northern Macedonia – E4E@мк, three pottery stakes were made available and will remain in permanent ownership of the school, so that in the future, students can be schooled and trained in this activity.
With an experimental class in contemporary ceramics, the students continued their activities and started working with clay, under the mentorship of our famous ceramicist, architect and poet Aneta Popova from the studio LIPA ceramics, with the objective to improve the art skills of the students as well as to encourage their affinity for design.
In the process of creating a contemporary ceramic product with their own reinterpretation of ethno prints, the students drew inspiration from digital format patterns, namely excerpts from a women’s shirt from Mariovo, silk and knitted clothes from Struga, as well as embroidery of costumes from the Tetovo region.
In collaboration with Janet Sartor, a lecturer in fashion design and research at the Istituto Marangoni, the students took part in an interactive online workshop aimed at modernizing traditional costumes and cultural heritage through collage techniques. They combined personal photos of family members in traditional clothes, clippings of folk costumes shown in the Macedonian cinematography, as well as photos from contemporary pieces from fashion magazines.
With an educational visit to the production facility of Kaliko in Skopje, the students got acquainted with the art and tradition of fine metal processing in our country, under the mentorship of Ivana Josimovska, who took the students for a walk through the entire process of creating personalized and handmade cast iron products.
Under the guidance from the Open Style Lab (OSL) team – a non-profit organization dedicated to creating a style accessible to all, regardless of their cognitive and physical abilities, students were in charge during the interactive online workshop OPEN YOUR (HE)ART “.
The focus was on self-representation of young people, individually and in a team, presenting their creative works from previous workshops, asking various questions related to fashion, design, arts and crafts, as well as receiving constructive feedback on positive stimulation and ideas regarding the best materials and colors to be used for specific shapes and dimensions.
Every student shared personal opinions about the traditional costumes, ornaments, embroidery, knitting, woodwork and pottery, i.e. how these elements are related and influenced the production of modern clothing from recycled textiles, ceramic tiles and masks, decorative and functional pottery, as well as a line of handmade wooden serving plates.
Studying product design offers a broad theoretical knowledge and practical skills necessary to create new products. The students were introduced to this activity with the arrival of their new mentor Anita Guy, founder of the well-known brand Lotus Lounge Chair.
The students acquired a variety of creative and operational skills, such as design, modeling, analysis and production. They created prototypes for a limited children’s line of modern soft chairs i.e. bean bag chairs, drawing inspiration from animals that unite our historical and cultural background. After deciding on the colors, materials and shapes for making a prototype for the limited children’s collection of soft chairs, the students started making their final product designs.
Under the mentorship of Jana Markovska from the creative studio Do More, the students had the opportunity to get acquainted with the basic elements and principles of graphic design, which is becoming increasingly relevant and in demand in the digital world as a profession.
From paper and pencil, to practical work on one of the primary programs used to make graphic illustrations – Illustrator (AI), the students have enriched their educational profile with a new range of knowledge and skills. Namely, they worked with great love and dedication to create the first online stickers, which are a combination of sign language and text, and everyone had the opportunity to make a graphic display for a sticker of their own idea.
Stickers not only enrich and simplify internet communication between young people with hearing impairments, but also bring sign language closer to all other users of social networks. They are free for download from the Viber mobile application, starting from mid-April 2021.
The students had the opportunity to meet and learn another old craft – knitting. Valentina Zdravevska-Kastratovic, workshop mentor and professional trainer for hand knitting and embroidery, with application of creations shared the knowledge and skills of this ancient technique in practice, helping the students to create knitwear as fashion details for the group capsule collection, in support to the photo shoot planned to capture the promotional catalog.
After months of training in workshops on fashion, knitting, traditional pottery, contemporary ceramics, woodworking, product and graphic design, it is finally time to present the original works of the students.
In the process of making a promotional catalog, the mentoring duo Dimitar and Andrijana Petrovski from the studio AD Photography, thoroughly introduced the students with the basics of photography as an art activity, both theoretically and in practice.
The students had the opportunity not only to witness the process up close, but also to get involved in the process of photographing their final creations. The lecture took place in two stages: a professional photo session with live models for a fashion editorial, followed by a still session incorporating the small groups of objects and decorations made by the students.
During the preparations and the shooting of the fashion editorial within the photography workshop, the students get acquainted with the aesthetics of the make-up, a skill gracefully shared by the make-up artist Marija Lazarova.
Different styles and techniques were demonstrated that could change the overall impression of fashion pieces and accessories, switching from one look to another, for each combination of their joint capsule collection presented on the set. The color palette and line shapes were inspired by the expressionist art of Petar Mazev, homage to one of the greatest academic and most important post-war painters in our country.
Sandra Kitanovska from the fashion studio KTN atelier brought fresh energy and dynamics among the students who, after a short creative break, enthusiastically continued the knitting trainings with the new mentor.
A bag design workshop was held together with Mirjana Josifoska, a student at the American University of Europe-FON, where students were introduced to different techniques for knitting fashion accessories in addition to the capsule collection that was presented.
Inspired by our rich folklore, colors and ornaments, the students were first challenged to choose their favorite patterns from traditional rugs, and then to recreate the drawn sketches on a net with wool and knitting needles. The final result was original bags with stylized prints, made entirely by the skillful hands of the students.
Digital competence is a vital skill for young people in the twenty-first century, as it is essential for learning, working and actively participating in society. It implies specific capabilities for dealing with new technology, but also broader capabilities for the application of technology and digital forms of collaboration and information in classical professional, social or cultural activities.
During the online workshops “From Digital Literacy to Digital Competence” under the mentorship of Sasko Pavlovski, co-founder of MSP MyServerPlace, students gained a valuable set of theoretical knowledge and practical skills in this area.
The students were introduced to WordPress in order to create their own website for self-presentation and promotion of all designs and works of art they had previously made within the project “RESPONSIBLE FUTURE: CRAFTING YOUTH EMPOWERMENT”.
The Macedonian Fashion Association continuously aims to provide young people with opportunities for a future without limitations, opening the horizons and awakening the innate talents of every student. Led by a host of mentors, professors, invited peers, community volunteers and university interns from a variety of creative endeavors, students have been collectively exploring how to cross craft and fashion references with personal preferences over the past six months. Drawing inspiration from the cultural heritage of our past, this program for modern learning supported the innovators of our future, in cooperation with the Swiss project Education for Employment in Northern Macedonia – E4E@мк.
All works are created with a lot of love, energy and dedication of the talented students under the mentorship of the artist Aneta Popova (contemporary ceramics), the master craftsman Slobodan Stoleski (traditional pottery), the designer Irina Toseva and the professor Ljubisa Saved Tapeska (fashion), Despina Zdravkova from “Rinocca” (modern woodworking), Anita Guy from “Lotus Lounge Chair” (product design) and Jana Markovska from “DO: MORE” (graphic design).
Interactive workshops were also held with the prestigious Istituto Marangoni School in London and the non-profit organization Open Style Lab in New York. The capsule fashion collection is composed of unique fashion looks with ancient Macedonian names, which are an inventive reinterpretation of folk costumes and ethno motifs, recreated using only factory textile scraps and handmade details, using old knitting techniques. The students learned the techniques with the support from Valentina Kastratovic, Mirjana Josifoska and Dana Koseva.
The final products can be viewed in the “RESPONSIBLE FUTURE CATALOGUE”, which is available to the public as a digital publication, thanks to the cooperation with Faktor Trust. In the process of creating the catalogue, the students were the main force, supported by Andrijana and Dimitar Petrovski from “AniDimi Photography”, as well as three young designers in charge of graphics: Diana Atanasovska, Ana Mitreska and Ivana Mitreska.
The virtual exhibition “RESPONSIBLE FUTURE” is an unusual visual experience for displaying works of art, handcrafts and fashion creations, all made by the students from the state school center “Partenija Zografski” from Skopje.