Emma Dick

Empowering women in fashion and textiles globally: enabling strategies for diversity in the global fashion and textiles industry

This paper examines women’s empowerment through entrepreneurship and creative industries across borders and modes of enabling strategies for diversity throughout the business of fashion and textiles. The presentation focuses on training programmes developed by SPINNA Circle in Central Asia as a case study, creating market linkages and developing networks for women entrepreneurs in textiles through skills exchange in creative pattern cutting. The training was funded by USAID-REC, supported by Middlesex University and delivered by Kiran Gobin and Emma Dick, both from the

Fashion Directorate in the School of Art & Design.

The paper examines how the exchange of creative skills builds the foundation for new peer supportive communities which transcend national and regional borders and connect women artisans and entrepreneurs globally. Through building and developing occupational networks of women artisans and entrepreneurs across Central Asia and connecting them to members and businesses worldwide, SPINNA Circle works to empower women in fashion and textiles globally, thus enabling fulfillment of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals to achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.

We discuss how new cross-border linkages and strategies for trans-cultural diversity are being enabled and developed through skills sharing and collaboration, and propose that by connecting skilled female artisans and entrepreneurs to each other, this emerging networked space has the power to bring diverse communities and individuals together. In this way, geopolitical borders might be re-imagined through the power of the personal and professional connection.

New dynamic flows of objects and ideas are being created within the Central Asian region. Existing historic structures, borders and conventional value chains in the global fashion and textiles industries are being examined, reevaluated and re-articulated, and new trade connections, aesthetic forms and modes of doing business being established. The multi-dimensional space in between becomes a dynamic and productive zone with the potential to significantly enhance the livelihoods of women and communities living within the region of the Central Asian borderlands and to expand their connections to global peers in design, craft and entrepreneur communities worldwide.

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