Young Fashion Designers Reimagine Albanian Folk Elements

March 28, 2024

“Find Your Own Roots” initiative supported through EU4Culture grants programme held an engaging fashion show that showcased the project’s achievements. More than 50 young, talented students proudly presented the results of their work: 20 modern outfits that beautifully and seamlessly incorporated traditional folk elements, showcasing centuries-old ornaments, patterns, and symbols. A professional jury, led by the renowned ethnography expert Ms. Afërdita Onuzi, honored the best designs with awards. The event was further enriched by lively performances of traditional songs and dances from across Albania, celebrating its rich cultural heritage.

In the course of three weeks young artists explored the world of Albanian national handicrafts and folk costumes through a series of craft workshops. Organised by Tradita Popullore NGO and supported through the EU4Culture grants programme, these training sessions offered participants a unique blend of theoretical knowledge and hands-on experience in mold design, embroidery, sewing, needlework, and weaving. Guided by skilled artisans, the attendees explored traditional techniques, ranging from textile work to the intricate details of antique accessory creation. Participants also engaged in discussions about the relevance of these historical garments in contemporary society and brainstormed innovative ways to integrate traditional values into modern fashion contexts.

Lediana Prendi, one of the participants, shared her enthusiasm for the project: “As traditional clothing becomes increasingly rare, I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to connect with my own heritage. Wearing traditional attire has always been a joy for me. I was proud to dedicate myself to something I genuinely cherish.”

“I watched my grandmother constantly doing handicrafts and thought, why not come here and learn how they are made” noted another participant,  Xhesiana Hilaj, a student of the Agricultural University of Tirana.

“Workshops have provided insight into the creative worlds of young people. We’ve aimed to help them discover aspects of their own identities. A key outcome of these workshops has been the creation of a cooperative network between young participants and artisans, which has brought their ideas to life” stated Entela Sulaj, the executive director of Tradita Popullore Foundation.

“The project’s name, “Find Your Own Roots,” speaks for itself. I sincerely hope that all young participants have appreciated this experience, finding inspiration from the work that the skilled artisans shared with you, encouraging you to become cultural ambassadors of the richness of Albania’s cultural heritage, which may also present interesting future business opportunities” underlined Pamela Lama, UNOPS/EU4Culture Senior Programme Manager.“This initiative not only offered a platform for young individuals to learn and  practice ancient crafts but also served as a crucial step towards ensuring the preservation and appreciation of Albanian cultural traditions among future generations” noted Entela Sula, Programme Officer, Delegation of the European Union to Albania.