In times of strife and struggle, Russia has always placed its biggest trust in human resources. “We’re rich in minerals and minds,” goes an old saying. While the population of the world’s largest (by territory) nation has steadily declined since independence in 1991, recent years have marked a potential reversal of fortunes with 0.05% growth recorded in 2017. The government aims to prevent the dreaded brain drain, but it’s the creative industries that often are the most flexible to adapt to new challenges.
Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Russia just took place in Moscow in October 13-17. Its Fashion Futurum program is an example of successful strategic support for emergent talent within a specific economic sector. Last year, the organizing committee co-launched FashionNet as part of the National Technology Initiative to boost domestic apparel market coverage up to 70% by 2035. While all eyes were on the fashion capital’s brightest stars Yasya Minochkina, Pirosmani, Artem Shumov, Alena Akhmadullina and Igor Gulyaev, we decided to spend time with the participants of the Fashion Futurum Accelerator, a program that helps promising designers set up a business from scratch. These future stars spend the past couple months in an intense mentorship program in Moscow working alongside established brand managers, buyers, investors and consultants to perfect their vision and set up sustainable production and retail channels. In between the shows, I asked them what participation in the Accelerator meant for them as they prepared to develop and present their full debut collections next season as part of the platform.