Fashion for Fragile Ecosystems: Linking cultural heritage to the global fashion market

Co-Creation Challenges



Name of team Mountain Partnership Secretariat of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Our Partner Fashion designers: Vivia Ferragamo and Stella Jean
Artisan organizations: Threads4dreams, Wakami, Comunidades de la Tierra, and Topchu
Funding and support: Directorate General for Development Cooperation of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Italy and Coalition of Fragile Ecosystems

Country or countries of your activity

Guatemala, Kyrgyzstan and Peru
The headquarters of this initiative is in Rome, Italy at the headquarters of FAO

Themes of Activity

Culture and arts (art)

Arts and Crafts

Livingware, fashion

Environment, energy

Recycling-oriented society, circular economy

Diversity and inclusiveness

Overseas support and cooperation, international exchange

Our Co-Creation Challenge

Mountains and islands experience dual challenges of being fragile ecosystems with vulnerable populations, highly impacted by climate change, natural disasters, economic shocks and marginalization. Small artisan communities in the remotest mountain areas and smallest islands around the world are often custodians of naturally circular economies with high quality products and low environmental impact. Yet, their isolated locations and long value chains usually result in unfair compensation for their valuable work, risking the loss of their heritage. Fashion for Fragile Ecosystems aims to improve the livelihoods of these marginalized communities, including women artisans, and ensure gender equality, women's empowerment and the protection of mountain environments by linking cultural heritage and traditional design with ethical, contemporary fashion.

Development of initiatives

Methods and Areas for Future Development Fashion for Fragile Ecosystems brings together artists and artisans from the world’s remotest regions with international fashion brands to create positive, long-lasting change through equal exchange of skills, traditional knowledge and cultural heritage. An international fashion designer works hand in hand with a group of local artists and artisans and co-designs a contemporary collection inspired by their local traditions, knowledge and culture. Technical training and financial support are provided to local producers to enhance their value chains and innovate their products, and the results are showcased through dedicated events and communication campaigns. Each collection is presented to the international market and produced by the fashion brand involved. The intellectual property rights are then granted free of charge to the artisans, to enable them to keep producing and selling the garments through their own channels. Areas for future development: 1. Increasing opportunities of fair work for women fibre producers and artisans in mountainous regions 2. Opening innovative markets for traditional techniques of fibre production and processing 3. Improving the management and marketing skills of artisan communities through training and support
Initial assessments for potential expansion into Bhutan, India, the Lao People's Democratic Republic and Mongolia are under development. However, the Mountain Partnership Secretariat is open to working with artisans from around the world who use traditional techniques and live in mountainous areas.
People who wish to work with Fashion for Fragile Ecosystems invites collaboration from stakeholders passionate about sustainable mountain development, ethical fashion and cultural preservation, including fibre producers, livestock keepers, pastoralists, artisans, textile experts, marketing professionals in fashion, and fashion designers. Moreover, the initiative is positioned for scalability and application in diverse mountainous countries around the world, welcoming also engagement from all members of the Mountain Partnership (MP), the only United Nations alliance dedicated to mountain people and environments. With over 560 members including governments, intergovernmental organizations and major groups, the MP envisions a world with empowered mountain communities and increased commitment and investment to address the climate and biodiversity crises in mountains, and to ensure the social and economic well-being of mountain people – leaving no one behind.

Our SDGs