The Bridges We Built Between Italy and South Africa

Polimoda graduates collaborate with South African designers for MFW and SAFW

Four young Polimoda designers paired up with four South African designers for Fashion Bridges, a special three-month mentorship program offering participants the unique opportunity to work on sustainable capsule collections during Milan Fashion Week and South African Fashion Week. 

To celebrate new beginnings and encourage cultural exchange between South Africa and Italy, Polimoda teamed up with The Embassy of Italy in Pretoria, South Africa, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, Lineapelle, South African Fashion Week, Italian Trade Agency ITA, Some Other Label and Nelson Mandela Forum Firenze to launch the brand new Fashion Bridges initiative, an ambitious project supporting talented South African designers from various fashion schools and Polimoda designers. 

This innovative project kicked off virtually with a three-month mentorship program, laying the foundations of a sustainable, inclusive, strategic and long-term collaboration between the Italian and South African fashion industries. Each Polimoda designer was paired up with a South African designer, forming teams of two to create a capsule collection.

From Zoom to Florence

A few weeks before Milan Fashion Week, South African designers Jacques Bam, Fikile Zamagcino Sokhulu, Sipho Mbuto and Michael Peter Reid jumped on a plane and headed to Florence, Italy to meet their Polimoda teammates. After months of virtual collaboration and dedication, Polimoda designers Julian Cerro, Ilaria Bellomo, Domenico Orefice and Alessia Dovero were finally able to talk to their South African design teammates in-person!

All four teams got straight to work, pairing up and working on the final touches of their collaborative capsule collections in the Polimoda Design Labs at Manifattura Tabacchi before attending Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana's Fashion Hub at Milan Fashion Week.

Getting Ready for Fashion Week

The Road to Milano Fashion Week 

Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana promotes and supports the values and development of Italian fashion both in Italy and all over the world. Fashion Bridges upholds CNMI’s commitment and operating strategy on its main pillars including sustainability, inclusion and diversity, storytelling, internationalization, young talents, education and digitalization.

During Milano Fashion Week Women’s Collection Spring/Summer 2022, Camera Nazionale Della Moda Italiana brought designers and visitors from around the world to their Fashion Hub to promote young designers. Their aim is to ensure sustainability, inclusion and diversity in today’s fashion world.

Inside a venue exclusively created to showcase international talent, high visibility was given to designers for different CNMI projects, including our very own Fashion Bridges teams.

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Un post condiviso da Milano Fashion Week (@cameramoda)

Milano Fashion Week

A VIP Experience at South African Fashion Week

During the three-day Autumn/Winter edition of South African Fashion Week (SAFW) in Johannesburg’s Mall of Africa, it was the time for some of our Polimoda designers to travel and present their capsule collections for the second time this year. 


Designers Michael Peter Reid, Julian Cerro, Alessio Dovero, Sipho Mbuto, Frikile Zamagcino Sokhulu and Jacques Bam at South African Fashion Week. Image by @lrphotographysa supplied by @safashionweek | Offical SA Fashion Week SocialPhotographer

At the end of October, Polimoda talents Julian Cerro and Alessia Dovero met their South African teammates once again and learned about the mixed influences and history of South African fashion culture with their design partners. 

South African Fashion Week

Thank you to The Embassy of Italy in Pretoria, South Africa, Camera Nazionale della Moda Italiana, Centro di Firenze per la Moda Italiana, Lineapelle, South African Fashion Week, Italian Trade Agency ICE and the Nelson Mandela Forum Firenze for joining Polimoda on this ambitious fashion project. 

Thank you to Some Other Label, a digital platform run by Errica Iacopini that shared a visual diary of the project, showcasing the stories of the designers and providing information regarding the initiative and institutions involved.

Thank to you the sponsors for supporting Fashion Bridges: Mantero, Dinamo, Cotonificio Albini, Lamintess, Lineapelle, Fratelli Piacenza, Clerici Tessuto, Cafissi, Filpucci, Il Borgo Cashmere, Cotton SA, Wool, Mohair SA and Mister Joe.

Cover image by @pierre.tography supplied by @safashionweek
South Africa Fashion Week gallery images by @lrphotographysa supplied by @safashionweek | Offical SA Fashion Week SocialPhotographer, @pierre.tography supplied by @safashionweek