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Danish-born, Sia Rosenberg founded The Free Design Initiative while studying for her Master's Degree at Kolding School Of Design. Now residing in Brussels, Sia set up her project after meeting two Syrian refugees as part of a social integration project initiated by the university. Despite not having a common tongue, the refugees successfully produced Sia's graduate collection and they showcased technical abilities and textile knowledge that are slowly disappearing in the Western world.

This experience inspired Sia to launch her project because she believed the fast-paced industry had negatively influenced our appreciation of quality and craftsmanship. With the Free Design Initiative, she wanted to create long-lasting garments that were carefully thought out and contributed to an increased responsibility within the fashion industry.

Her creations are all produced locally in Belgium in sustainable fabrics. Sia works closely with refugees from predominately Afghanistan and Syria whose backgrounds as craftsmen or -women are a major asset to the project. The project allows Sia to hinder the loss of the specialised textile knowledge the refugees possess while empowering them to independent lives in Europe simultaneously.

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In February 2018, the first collection, inspired by suiting, will be presented. It will investigate and interpret suits in new contexts. The goal is to contest an otherwise undisputed masculine ideal by exploring the female voice in this domain. The iconic, traditional silhouette will be challenged and new shapes will see the light of day. However, it is essential for Sia to maintain recognisable details and characteristics of the monochrome three-pieced suit. The main ambition is, therefore, to create functional pieces while maintaining her sense of artististry and concept building. In short, to sustain wearability but challenge the notion of shape and social awareness.

As a designer, Sia is deeply rooted in the craft of clothes making. Through her craft, she explores issues such as gender, age, and the longevity of designs to make an impact and spark a change. Besides the awareness of body movement, tactility, and the sensorial importance, Sia supports a diversification in fashion. She cleverly manifests how a designer needs to consider both his or her social and environmental footprints while not compromising their aesthetic and technical aspects.

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One such conscious choice is seen in the fabric choice of the brand. The first collection will feature solely linen textiles produced by the Belgium company, Libeco. Sia chose linen because of its high eco-score. While growing, the material needs no irrigation and little or no chemical treatment. The fabric is 100% biodegradable, and in production the entire plant is used. Her partner, Libeco, manufactures only GOTS certified materials, thereby ensuring Sia that her garments have the smallest possible pollution rate. Besides the obvious ecological aspects of working with linen, the diversity of the fabric is what made the choice easy for Sia. The colorway, density, softness, and surfaces are extremely varied and thus allow Sia to use the same fabric throughout the collection.

The Free Design Initiative by Sia Rosenberg is an intriguing project to follow. It manifests the importance of designers stepping up and carefully considering the massive influence they can potentially have. Be it socially, ecologically, or conceptually, The Free Design Initiative shows us, that a young generation is ready to take their responsibility serious. Something high street and high fashion companies have failed to do for far too long.

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