About the fashion cluster: Initiated by Creative Tunisia

About the fashion cluster: Initiated by Creative Tunisia

7 min read  —  Oct 06, 2021

by Eya Rziga

Resilience through creativity is the slogan for Creative Tunisia, an initiative that’s been promoting Tunisian artisanal heritage through technical assistance, market access, and promotional activities.

Creative Tunisia is a development project dedicated to the promotion of entrepreneurial cooperation in Tunisian cultural and creative industries, funded by the European Union with a financial contribution from the Italian Agency for Development Cooperation and implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), supports the competitiveness of the artisanal sector and design, in order to ensure a move upmarket of products and access to national and international markets.

Creative Tunisia represents the craft development component of a larger "Tounes Wijhetouna" program funded by the European Commission.

The Tounes Wijhetouna program aims to support the diversification of tourism by creating synergies between the sectors of tourism services, crafts, local products, and tangible cultural heritage.

The overall objective of the program is to contribute to the sustainable and inclusive economic development of Tunisia.

The craft sector has a strong impact on gender and social inclusion. As such, strengthening clusters and value chains in different trades is an opportunity to create decent and sustainable jobs for women and young people while also strengthening their economic empowerment.

The project will support 7 selected clusters and will also provide technical assistance to support structures, other economic realities, and associations in the field of crafts and design and will set up service centers intended to improve the competitiveness of the sector across the country.

The project will also ensure strong ownership by national authorities in order to integrate the promotion of clusters and business links into the framework of national private sector development. It is expected that the public-private partnership will be strengthened through a more intense dialogue between public authorities and entrepreneurs.

Creative Tunisia by the numbers

08 Clusters ,01 Design hubs, 05 Associations, +20 Trainings, +400 beneficials.

'The artisanal sector, a true ecosystem, constitutes one of the main identities and unique assets of Tunisia. With its multiple skills, it is part of an economic but also heritage approach, the importance of which is recognized today on an international scale.

But this heritage, which has become threatened today, is on the way to disappearing if comprehensive restructuring actions are not initiated. This is the essence of the Creative Tunisia project, working every day for the preservation and sustainability of this exceptional intangible know-how.' -Warraha Ganem, development agent of the fashion design cluster

Support for the development of 8 clusters 

In order to develop the artisanal sector towards an economic sector with higher added value and to develop competitive advantages throughout the country, the Creative Tunisia project supports 8 value chains.

The first value chain, the tableware cluster (Art de la Table cluster) in Nabeul, is a pilot initiative. Following its success, 7 values were selected through a call for expressions of interest that closed on January 3rd, 2020 to benefit UNIDO's technical assistance over the period of 5 years with a view to achieving an upscaling of their products as well as access to competitive markets.

The seven selected clusters are as follows: Garden pots in MoknineKlim Keffoisplant fibers in GabèsHalfa in KasserineCopper in KairouanTraditional weaving in Monastir and Mode in Tunis. 

Thanks to the support of the Creative Tunisia project in close collaboration with the National Office of Handicrafts, today, a cluster represents the promise of real economic growth in Tunisia, as it is the concentration of economic actors in a geographical area that are working in the same value chain.

The cluster development initiative operates on strategic axes through the strengthening of public-private partnerships, the integration of university graduates into the artisanal professional environment, the structuring of the value chain through the creation of new production workshops, and upgrading of existing businesses.

Grouped and individual actions to strengthen the capacities of cluster members, develop national and international markets, modernize equipment, as well as develop new niches through product diversification are thus put in place throughout the project period.

This privileged opportunity also makes it possible to support the economy of the region in the creation of decent and sustainable jobs, especially for women and young people.

Establishment of design hubs 

In order to improve the competitiveness of the craft sector across the country, the Creative Tunisia project will set up service centers. Platforms dedicated to the promotion of design, culture, and creativity, these service centers have exhibition and marketing space, coworking space, and space reserved for companies. These service centers also offer a range of activities and support services dedicated to entrepreneurs developing projects in the creative industry such as sponsorship programs to incubation workshops, including conferences, allowing the various players in the sector to discuss and learn new techniques in various fields of expertise. The space and services offered are intended to connect market players, and to assist entrepreneurs in carrying out and optimizing their projects.

Therefore through these platforms, the service centers work to build the capacities of participants, thus contributing to the enhancement of the craft sector.

Support for Associations Call # 1 

The Creative Tunisia project has among its objectives technical assistance to economic realities and associations working in the field of crafts and design. Three calls for proposals for the benefit of associations will be organized over the period 2020-2024 to fully support around fifteen formal associations working in the field of crafts and design. Ten economic realities will be selected internally and also supported.

The Creative Tunisia project launched during the month of June 2020 the first call for proposals intended for Tunisian associations working in the artisanal sector and design.

Following this call, the Creative Tunisia project selected the following 5 associations: Association Tenbib (Kebili), Association Erwassi (Medenine), Association Djerba Insolite (Djerba), Association of Artisans of Tajerouine (Kef), Association Memories of El Medina (Kairouan).

Africa 2020

Within the framework of the Africa 2020 initiative, a cultural program initiated by French President Emmanuel Macron to highlight pan-African multidisciplinary projects focusing on innovation in the arts, sciences, technology, entrepreneurship and the economy, as well as education for it to be a cross-cutting issue for the sharing and transmission of knowledge.

The exhibition 'Bonne Arrivée' was launched in 2014 by Mamadou and Youssouf Fofana. It was held in Paris at the Museum of Decorative Arts for 6 days, from August 31 to September 5.

"Bonne Arrivée - African Crafts, Contemporary Design '' was imagined as a showcase of the rich artisanal heritage and design from the African continent, ranging from furniture to fashion. The project’s ambition is to create a global emancipation movement through a sustainable commitment built around the values of citizenship. 

Behind the scenes, satellite exhibits showcase individual trades through installations featuring video segments and other examples of finished items. One of these focuses was on Tunisian designers Anissa Meddeb (Anissa Aida), Chems Eddine Mechri (Née), Asma Haj Romdhane (Tourath), Emna Gahbiche(Caelestis), and Hedi Saad who were selected to participate in the Africa2020 initiative.  

It was an opportunity for the 5 young designers who were selected from the Fashion cluster in Tunis, supported by Creative Tunisia, to discover the Parisian professional sphere through meetings with renowned personalities such as such as Serge Carreira, head of the Emerging Brands Initiative at the Fédération de la Haute Couture, Priscillia Jodkho director of the Talents program of the women's ready-to-wear federation, Adel Haddadi, creator of the Picloz brand and Montassar Alaia of the Azzedine Alaïa foundation. 

UNIDO organized a contest to choose the five Tunisian designers that would exhibit their work by an international jury. The selection of the designers was coordinated with Nadia Baccouche-Le Gendre in partnership with ConvergenceBy Hedi Saad

During a period of three months, before the jury was held, the 10 short listed designers had technical assistance and support in order to shape and improve their looks.

After the jury made its decision, Five designers were selected to participate in the “Bonne Arrivée ” event.

The idea of the exhibition is to shine a light on the artisanal techniques and the history of textiles and ceramics.

The jury consisted of: Caroline Hammelle (MDY journalist), Catherine Baba (Costume designer and stylist), Guillaume Salmon (Agence Tact)Laure Orset (Stylist), D.A. Smala Paris-Kasbah Kosmic, Sylvette Lepers, Responsible for partnerships with designers and image at La RedouteOlivier Gabet, Director of MADPascal Mourier, Fashion Critic France 24Persephone Kassanidis, Consultant and Founder of l’Agence M & KSaveria Mendella, Doctorante chercheuse EHESS, Serge Carreira, Responsible for Emerging Designers at F.H.C.M. 

The creators also had the opportunity to meet personalities from the world of media and distribution such as:

- Caroline Hamelle, author and independent journalist, with 20 years of expertise in the field of communication and media.

- Katell Pouliquen of the magazine Marie Claire.

- Jean Albert Herman director of a press office Gala Granier-Deferre at Bon Marché

- Sylvette Lepers responsible for creative partnerships & image at La Redoute.

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