Sustainable fashion is about to get the royal seal of approval!
An exciting fashion initiative, uniting all 52 countries of the Commonwealth and supported by Kate Middleton and Sophie, Countess of Wessex – launched with a press conference at London’s Marlborough House on Thursday.
The Commonwealth Fashion Exchange will see designers and artisans from differing Commonwealth countries collaborating to create a one-of-a-kind sustainable outfit, which will be showcased at a reception at Buckingham Palace on February 19.
“We believe in the huge power of fashion,” Livia Firth, founder and creative director of Eco-Age consultancy, tells PEOPLE.
Firth (wife to actor Colin Firth), who first came up with the project, adds: “The majority of the population of the Commonwealth is under the age of 30 so we needed to find something that spoke to the millennials, the young people.”
In an industry worth more than $170 billion, the project “has collaboration and partnership at its heart, forging new networks and making the Commonwealth Summit themes of prosperity, sustainability and fairness very real and tangible,” said the Rt. Hon. Patricia Scotland QC, Secretary-General of the Commonwealth.
With sponsorship from Swarovski, The Woolmark Company and MatchesFashion.com, established designers such as Karen Walker (representing New Zealand) and Stella McCartney and Burberry (for the U.K.) will be among the 31 designers and 26 artisans showcasing their work at a VIP reception held at Buckingham Palace during London Fashion Week, at which both Kate and Sophie will be in attendance.
Up-and-coming fashion designer Euphemia Sydney Davies, who is representing Sierra Leone for the project, spoke at the launch event of the special bond that has formed between herself and her partner, a master weaver from Ghana. Not only is she thrilled to have found a creative collaborator for her eponymous line, Sydney Davies, but she’s made firm friends with the weaver and his partner. And it’s something she’s hoping to replicate when she meets her fashion idol and favorite royal, Princess Kate.
“I probably won’t sleep the night before the party, I’m beyond excited!” Davies told PEOPLE, adding: “Everything Kate wears is just beautifully crafted and she’s got a great sense of style, it would be such an honor to meet her, I can’t wait!”
Once they have their royal debut at the palace, all the outfits will be displayed at a public exhibition at London’s Australia House on February 21 and other various London locations in the run up to Commonwealth Heads of Government Summit in April, before heading to New York in September. Online retailer (and a favorite of Kate’s) Matchesfashion.com will also launch an edited collection in September.