International Young designers Contest

(text: Silvia Haupt Kozonova, photo: Tomas Gal & Ukrainian Fashion Week)

16 contestants, 9 countries, an international jury and a prize of 10, 000 $. That is a brief summary of the first International Young Designer Contest being held in Kiev. The main mission of the competition is a bit different than you would usually expect from a fashion contest. Even though the main focus of the competition is to find the newest talent in Europe, it also is aiming for one bigger goal. The Fashion MAP team flew thanks to Czech Fashion Council and Czech Center to Kiev to soak in the atmosphere, to discover the beauty Ukraine has to offer and to learn about how IYDC can disrupt the local fashion bubble and then flourish so effortless in the international fashion industry.

The fashion industry in the Central and Eastern Europe is changing rapidly.
Economical growth in the whole region rose at an unexpectedly rapid pace. According to European Commission, Romania’s economy showed the most increased growth in the EU last year, with an estimated GDP growth rate of 6.4 percent. Poland, the Czech Republic and Hungary are also growing more quickly than the major economies in Western Europe.
In terms of fashion, it means regions with a stronger economy will have more buying power. Therefore, it’s no wonder this region is seeing massive amounts of progress. The newer generation of designers feels the same way; their time to make themselves more relevant, in the international context, is now. But how does a designer make him/herself more visible among the competition and how do they kick-start their careers?

One possible solution could be the International Young Designer Contest – an event established in Ukraine, which wants to not only support the CEE region but the more importantly to create relevant connections.
IYDC is a collection of the best of the best, our participants are already winners of national contests, so the quality is already there and I personally see them all as the winners. Therefore, the main reason why they are here is not solely to attain a title, they are here to network and to be part of the change and to share ideas. Only through this can we build the new Europe, a new European society with mutual respect,” said the executive producer Victoria Kharchenko.

The concept for a Central European competition and the support for emerging talent in this region is not a new idea. Budapest debuted Central European Fashion Week over 5 years ago and since then they have created a fashion competition for all the young fashion designers from the CE region wishing to participate. The contest is a great opportunity for one to compare his skillsets with other competitors, the only “problem” was the level of the awareness of the contest and the quality of the contestants. Since word of the contest wasn’t spread through the entire region, the majority of the applications came from the countries that were more familiar and had more exposure to the presence of a context. IYDC is taking it one step further since the contestants are already the winners of each national round of the competition. The organization believes this should guarantee a certain level of the quality and equal representation from each country.

The 16 designers that took part in the annual IYDC competition represent the following countries: the Czech Republic ( represented by Jan Černý, Tereza Ujevicová ), Slovakia ( Terézia Feňovčíková, Lukáš Krnáč), Estonia, Ukraine, Moldova, Hungary, Poland, Georgia, and Lithuania.

The fashion jury evaluated the work of every designer separately based on a quick interview. During this interview, the questions touched on the following categories: production, sustainability, ideas and material sourcing.
The competition closed with a final open-air fashion show that took place on Kiev’s busiest street in the downtown neighborhood of Kreshchatyk. The jury included editors from Vogue. Com, Fucking Young, Vogue Italia, and LVHM Designer Scout. Agreeing on a winner was a difficult mission since all the designers were at approximately a similar level.

So what was the deciding factor?
It was very difficult to evaluate such different approaches. One unifying component was inspiration from the local history and culture. I believe, that the most important thing for young designers is knowledge. Fashion is part of the whole culture. Something from literature, something from music, and the knowledge to know what to do. You should know the history of your own culture in order to then combine it with others and to create an original collection. You have to know a lot of things in order to create something new, otherwise, you will end up repeating something you have seen somewhere else. And end up at “Dietprada”, even though it is a very ironic Instagram account. It is a good way to learn references, “says Riccardo Terzo, the editor of Vogue Italia when he was referring to the importance of education.
“You need to know what happened and what is happening to create something that lasts in the future. Fashion is like a forecasting laboratory, things are happening so quickly in the fashion industry, so in order to be able to catch up with all of that you need to be somehow ahead of the curve. Not only following but be a part of the creating force,” added Ricardo related to choosing the winner.

The prize of 10,000 USD was awarded to young talent Carol Ott. She is a rising star from Estonia and we can’t wait to see the future development of her style. Will the prize money help her start the career that every young designer is wishing to create? What about next year’s competition? How will this competition and exposure impact the position of Ukraine in the Central and Eastern European fashion map? With the Ukrainian Fashion Week already established in 1997, on-going support from the government, strong organizational skills and private donors with a strong fashion agenda; Ukraine might be the best fit for the host role than any other Central European country. We can’t wait to see what next season brings and how the whole competition will impact this wonderful region which is full of talent, yet to be discovered. Thank you for Ukrainian Fashion Week and The Tourism Board of Kyiv for having us!



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