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SUSTAINABLE STYLE: Risto Bimbiloski Fair Trade Collections
There is no doubt that Designers & Agents has become a future-forward showcase for discovering fresh young talent on the global fashion circuit. We made a lot of new friends while at D&A here in NYC during early May, and we are excited to continue that momentum at D&A LA this weekend. One of our favorite fashion finds from the New York D&A Green Room was Macedonian-born designer, Risto Bimbiloski. Launched in the 1990’s as handcrafted knitwear collection, Risto Bimbiloski is an East-West vision about how to create economic opportunities for village artisans while also combining avant-garde, tailor-made design for the ready-to wear market. We love Risto Bimbiloski’s pieces not only for their gorgeous, sustainable appeal but also for the strong message they send in centering a designer label on tradition and heritage.
Born in Macedonia in 1974, Risto Bimbiloski’s initial influences included “the realities of common socialistic lifestyle” and early pop images on MTV. As a 1993 graduate of the prestigious Parisian design school, Duperee, Risto set the stage in Paris to launch his East-West designs fueled also by a desire to highlight the rich traditions of knitting and handcrafting techniques in his “matriarchal homeland”. It is customary that the techniques of knitting in Macedonia are taught at an early age with the goal to complete all designs to absolute perfection. It became a natural decision for the young designer to embrace these traditions and launch the Risto Bimbiloski label as a knitwear based collection. The designer’s first presentation,“24”, featured twenty-four silhouettes for women who donned a Risto Bimbiloski garment at a precise hour and minute of the day in specified global locales. The collection’s praise was considerable and also marked the beginning of an ongoing collaboration for Risto as a contracted designer for the men’s knitwear line at Louis Vuitton.
The Risto Bimbiloski brand has since developed into a full ready-to-wear collection – pretty impressive given that the knitting artisan atelier started with only four women and presently contracts over one hundred, all at competitive, well-paying salaries. Again the designer comments, “In these ever-changing and unstable times, this is one of the most important ingredients of the Risto Bimbiloski label, its human element. It is a product made with love – that gives a chance to help and drastically improve each woman’s familial economic situation.” In the summer of 2007, Risto Bimbiloski opened the doors to its first factory in order to meet the demands of their ever-growing production needs.
This dynamic, fair-trade enterprise creates garments out of all natural fabrics and yarns such as silks, virgin wools, poplin cottons, and rich cashmere/silk blends dipped in custom colors. We were so floored by both the Spring Summer 2008 and the Autumn Winter 2008 collections at D&A NY that we could hardly wait to share both with you. The horizon looks bright for both Risto Bimbiloski as well as the women who have knit together the disparate threads of their communities to create work that best represents the future of sustainable style and homespun goodness.
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