With International Women’s Day approaching, it’s important to celebrate not just established but also emerging female talent within the industry. These creatives more than often don’t get given a voice, especially those from marginalised backgrounds who’s voices may not be listened to at all. With that in mind, we’ve chosen to cover talent from all corners of the globe and give them the spotlight.
EUROPE – Nensi Dojaka
Fresh from Central Saint Martins, Dojaka has already started showcasing her third collection in London. She was born in Tirana, Albania, growing up with a strong love of art. Although she hadn’t attended any art institutions, she would create her own art drawing abstract forms which inspire some of her work today. Having moved to the UK in 2009 to study, her career has grown from strength to strength since graduating. Her graduate collection featured deconstructed dresses made from a variety of sheer fabrics. Her upcoming collection will again be centered around dresses, but instead with spaghetti straps and cutout detailing.
ASIA – Shuting Qiu
Born in Hangzhou, China, Qiu had always dreamed of becoming a Fashion Designer and pursued this by attending the Royal Academy of Fine Arts (Antwerp). Having graduated, she created her womenswear label in 2017, making her runway debut at New York Fashion Week the previous fall. In an interview with Thats Mags she states “I use a lot of ethnic elements, bold colors and silhouettes, and eccentric headpieces combined with the use of silk, jacquard, hand embroidery and feminine cuts for a sense of elegance.”
North America – Emma Alamo
Emma Alamo is a queer designer who started out by making utility belts at 21. Ever resourceful, she would use spare parts and fabrics to create her belts; one was made out of a dress, handbag and apron. Following various compliments on her accessories, she decided to create an Etsy page. Alamo is an alumni of Maryland Institute College of Art, and has a degree in Sculpture. Originally she wasn’t working in fashion, instead working as a Set Designer and Theatre Carpenter. She encountered hardship during this period as she became ill and couldn’t work as a Set Designer anymore. Eventually, she gravitated towards working with leather. She now creates harnesses for people of all sizes, selling mostly to women and other members of the Queer community.
Oceania – Grace Stratton
In 2019, student Grace Stratton was recognised by Instyle Magazine and chosen for their annual list of “Badass” women, alongside stars like Anne Hathaway, Rihanna and Lizzo. Last year, she started a specialised e-commerce website called – All Is for All, which makes clothing and accessories more accessible to people with disabilities. In her formative years, Stratton was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy at the age of one. This however did not stop her from pursuing her love for fashion, and she frequently attended fashion weeks. As an avid fashionista, she wanted to make fashion more accessible for others as she found herself unable to wear any clothes she had bought online. With this in mind, she made a site with her friend and business partner – Ang which included information about garments . The success of her business has led her to create a modelling agency that “champions diverse models”.
South America – Paulina Anchia
Imagine running a fashion business. Now imagine running a fashion business at the age of 12…This is exactly what Paulina Anchia did with the help of her mother Beatriz Martinez. The fashion savvy duo created a leather handbag brand called – Beamina, producing items in Colombia. The interior of the bag is lined with a unique illustration that Anchia created, which also has their two-star logo. Nearly 3 years ago, Anchia was given a sewing machine for Christmas which inspired her to take sewing lessons. Eventually, this led her to create a brand with her mother. In the beginning, she would donate all of her profit to charity to help prevent human trafficking. This continues to be an important part of the business, with money being donated per each purchase. In an interview with HOLA!, Martinez talked more about her daughter…“Paulina always had a special sparkle, and she was extremely mature for her age.”
Africa – Akosua Afriyie-Kumi
Born and raised in Ghana, Afriyie-Kumi decided to move to London to study Fashion Design. Now she owns a brand in Ghana called – AAKS that revolves around handcrafted, ethical handbags. She hires local raffia weavers and employs traditional African techniques to create her vibrant pieces. After her studies, she travelled around Ghana where she met a community where talented weavers lived. With this, she began experimenting with her ideas and taught the weavers how to create products to a standard she considered luxury. Through trial and error her brand was born. In an interview with Culture Trip, Afriyie-Kumi states, “My ethos is to preserve traditional techniques by combining them with modern design and usability. My weavers and I bring empowerment, passion and durability to each creation.”
Each creative above has created their own space in what can be a very homogeneous, and sometimes unethical industry. For me, as a POC female and fashion journalist, seeing diversity represented is especially important. Just the other day, I tried on clothes my mother had made when she was a young woman in Uganda. A moment like that touched me as I saw my mum’s eyes light up with the joy that fashion and design gave her. It reminded me just how crucial it is to keep marginalised people’s stories, culture and art alive. After all, diversity is not a niche nor a novelty – it is the world we see around us every day.