While Paris Fashion Week gains momentum after busy Milan runway shows, the Armenian designer, Vahan Khachatryan introduces his new project “Establishment of Business Club for Fashion & Design” to the Armenian public at the American University of Armenia. When it felt as if the Armenian fashion industry was living through stagnation, a project was initiated for fashion and design practitioners to educate the public, promote and develop the sector.
The auditorium was packed with students, designers, and people who were generally interested in the fashion industry. This high interest of Armenians in this event, and specifically in fashion and design, promised interesting discussions around the project. It seemed that the speakers were ready to elaborate on the problems hindering fashion practitioners in Armenia to generate high-quality products as well as access to the market.
Vahan Khachatryan, the president of the Fashion and Design Chamber NGO, presented the flows of Armenian fashion market as well as possible solutions which would guarantee the sector’s competetivness. He refers to these problems straight forwardly with these bullet-points:
- Education (fashion and technical schools)
- Creative sector (fashion, accessories, and textile designers)
- Production (small and large-scale productions, artisans)
- Public Relations (fashion PR agencies, advertising, magazines, critics, journalists, bloggers, influencers, etc.)
- Management (individuals holding a university degree in fashion management, luxury business management, fashion business consultancy, business plans, fashion start-ups)
- Sales (sale agents, buyers, multi-brand shops, showrooms, loyal customers, competitive prices, high-quality products)
- Fashion Weeks (seasonal fashion events, investors)
However, he put more emphasis on the issue of raw material supply chains and financial inconveniences in the production process. He suggested improving these problems by organizing trips to particular trade shows which will provide the consumer with a high quality and variation of materials. To solve the issue of raw materials, Vahan Khachatryan proposed to create a database for suppliers as well as help consumers with logistics.
In the production phase the main challenges are lack of professionals in the production sector, decreased interest of large-scale producers to collaborate with designers as well as high prices required for renting creative spaces and gathering a team for support. For the renting issues, he suggested creating a platform for artists so that they can share the creative space. In addition, Vahan Khachatryan stated that
“We have to educate our consumers to appreciate the Armenian production through our high-quality performance so that people would want to buy Armenian products.”
It is also very important to mention that quality refers not only to the material choices but also to the variety of choice that designers should offer consumers.
Having been operating as a project for almost three months, it has already planned a number of events and workshops around fashion and design topics. The first initiative takes a form of a 6-month educational program which will give a chance to those individuals interested in fashion to study the following courses:
Trend Forecasting (Passed)
English for Fashion Designers
Social Media for fashion
Fashion Business Management
Fashion Collection development from A to Z
Certain courses will be held by professionals coming from outside of Armenia. As for the summer, events the club will organize a Fashion Forum, which will last two days and will encompass the following topics:
- Fashion Production and Sustainability
- Fashion Promotion Communication and Media
- Strategic Fashion Marketing
- Fashion Scouting
- Photo Exhibition
- Starting a Fashion Brand in a Post-Soviet Crisis Stricken Environment
- Fashion Journalism and Constructive Criticism
- Trend Forecasting
- Social Media Influencers and Street Style Photography
The Q&A session brought many surprises in terms of supporting the rising talented students in becoming a member of the club. In other words, Kamo Tovmasyan, one of the leading entertinement and video bloggers in Armenia, offered to cover the subscription fees for 10 talented designers who will be selected by the club. Other representatives of various media outlets and brands suggested their help in supporting the club for its further development with media coverages and fashion book donations. The initiative of developing fashion sector in Armenia has been already established and we are looking forward to success stories of the project and to the summer forum.
The project “Establishment of Business Club for Fashion and Design” will be enforced in the frame of EU4Business “Support to SME Development in Armenia” project, co-funded by the European Union and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development and enforced by GIZ’s Private Sector Development in South Caucasus Programme.