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Amplifying Cyprus’ fashion voice globally

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NIKI CHARALAMBOUS meets a woman who has set up a platform to promote the island’s traditions

Dedicated fashion sustainability campaigner Christina Dymioti is working towards fashion having a positive impact in the world. Having spent most of her life contributing to a more responsible and eco-conscious fashion sector, she hopes to safeguard the island’s fashion heritage through a creative young network of fashion designers and artists from around the island.

Following her studies in English literature at the University of Cyprus, she returned to her birthplace of Sheffield to complete a master’s degree in marketing management and to establish permanent roots.

An important turning point in her life was when she was selected by the High Commission of Cyprus in the UK as their official flagbearer, representing Cyprus at the annual Commonwealth Day Service held at Westminster Abbey in 2020.

The ceremony, which the late Queen Elizabeth II attended, required each flagbearer to wear their country’s national costume. “The overwhelming number of compliments I received that day regarding the beauty of Cyprus’ traditional dress, from its intricate patterns and vibrant colours to its unique style, made me appreciate the true richness and splendour of our Cypriot fashion heritage,” Dymioti told the Cyprus Mail. “At that point, I realised I wanted to create a platform that would preserve and promote our rich and distinctive fashion heritage.”

A year later, Dymioti realised her vision by co-founding the Tsemberi Fashion Project, the island’s first fashion sustainability project with a strong focus on Cyprus’ heritage.

fashion christina dymioti
Christina Dymioti

The project was launched in collaboration with the Royal Commonwealth Society and Clarion Futures in the UK as well as Fashion Revolution Cyprus, and called on young leaders to develop a social action project that would benefit their local community. “We identified two key issues in Cypriot society: a lack of fashion sustainability education and a lack of opportunities for young people in the arts and fashion sectors.”

Dymioti said the project was a huge success, and she was invited by the Royal Commonwealth Society to a reception hosted by the royal family in recognition of the Commonwealth Diaspora ahead of the Commonwealth Heads of Government summit in Rwanda in 2022.

“The event welcomed Commonwealth guests to the palace, including celebrities and key figures from the arts, education, National Health Service and the philanthropic sector,” she explained. “I had the opportunity to meet with the former Prince of Wales and Duchess of Cornwall, who are now King Charles III and Queen Camilla, and it felt so inspiring representing my country at Buckingham Palace.”

And while Dymioti is proud her volunteer work in both the UK and Cyprus has been recognised by heads of state, she finds it all surreal that she has experienced such incredible achievements so young. “It is one of the biggest milestones in my life,” she added.

Dymioti’s efforts and involvement in social action as a youth leader in Cyprus were also recognised by the Royal Commonwealth Society, which awarded her the titles of Associate Fellow of the Royal Commonwealth Society and Global Youth Leader of the Queen’s Commonwealth Trust in 2022.

fashion representing cyprus
Representing Cyprus

Despite Christina not pursuing a career in fashion, since her parents encouraged her to study something more academic, she did pursue her passion for clothes on a part-time basis and attended various fashion seminars and events, obtaining certifications in fashion management and sustainability along the way. “Although I did not study fashion full-time, I am committed to using my skills and knowledge to drive change and promote sustainable practices in the world of fashion as well as in our community.”

Dymioti now promotes her love of fashion through the Fashion Heritage Network Cyprus (FHNC), a pioneering project that not only honours but also redefines Cyprus’ fashion heritage through contemporary and sustainable fashion practices.

“The FHNC brings together young Cypriot fashion designers and artists from various communities across the island, as well as from the wider diaspora, and allows them to work collaboratively, exchange ideas, and showcase their work. The project uses art to foster debate and bridge communication across cultural and linguistic divides.”

Since its establishment, the network has already hosted fashion sustainability events in the United Kingdom and Cyprus, as well as presented its members’ work through fashion shows, videos, and online content, as well as second-hand fashion bazaars and seminars. “The network has approximately 40 volunteers who work in various departments such as media and public relations, heritage, research, fashion design, art, graphic design, and marketing.

“Through my work, I intend to increase the FHNC’s impact and promote its values to the local and international community, while also uniting all fashion designers and artists and amplifying our fashion voice globally.”

To find out more about the Fashion Heritage Network Cyprus and their upcoming exhibitions in London this September and October, visit: www.fashionheritagecy.com

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