ARMENIAN IS FASHIONABLE

ARMENIAN IS FASHIONABLE

Regional Post discussed the current state of fashion in Armenia with the President of the Fashion and Design Chamber NGO, Vahan Khachatryan and the Co-Founder of the NGO, Elen Manukyan.

 

Text : Margarit Mirzoyan    Photo : Arnos Martirosyan 


Numerous foreign companies collaborate with Armenian textile producers

Armenian fashion has developed significantly in recent years, becoming recognizable and accessible to the average consumer, which only a decade ago would have seemed impossible. The works of Armenian designers have become integral elements of everyone’s wardrobes, and textile factories are constantly introducing new approaches, technologies, and international experiences.

Manufacturing companies increase their job openings not by five or ten but by dozens each month. The export rates have also surged; there are even local companies working only with international markets. 

“At first glance, it may seem that exports and working with international partners serve only financial purposes,” says Elen Manukyan, “but this also allows factories to train their employees, increase productivity, and integrate the best international approaches.” With each international order come relevant specialists who oversee the quality of the products, simultaneously introducing new working styles and quality standards to local teams. By staying in Armenia, these employees contribute to the development of the local  textile sector, creating new opportunities for producers and enabling them to accept even more complex orders. At this point, there are about 30 large factories in Armenia, each of them employing from 200 to more than 1000 people. Most of these factories are located in the regions, leading to more expansive results, decentralization of the sector, and regional development.

 

The critical problem is the lack of specialized human resources 

Even though the demand on fashion and textile production is steady, there is a lack of skills, knowledge, and specialists. Vahan Khachatryan is convinced that the problem here is the absence of dialogue between the employers and the educational institutions preparing relevant specialists to join the industry. 

“To connect them, we visited educational institutions, tried to establish links, did some need assessment surveys, and provided that information to the government and employers,” he said.

The lack of specialists has a significant impact both on factories and designers.  Many of them cannot develop quickly enough because they have to implement all stages of creating a product on their own, even if they do not have the corresponding knowledge. Trying to fill the existing gaps, the NGO regularly implements training programs for designers. In those courses they acquire business skills, learn how to manage their social presence properly, gain financial knowledge and other such skills.

 

Large factories have started working with Armenian designers.

In the past, factories refused to work with Armenian designers, explaining that their orders were small and financially unprofitable. But today, the Fashion and Design Chamber team claims that they have overcome this obstacle. Currently, many designers actively cooperate with local factories as the producers accepted that by working with the local creative cluster, they step up the demand for Armenian fashion and contribute to establishing the Made in Armenia brand. The Chamber also has been closely working with the government during this period, and a five-year textile development strategy is currently being developed. The latter is based not only on adding workplaces but also on creating added value via increased salaries, the complexity of quality products and productivity. 

The article was published within Reconomy, a regional inclusive and green economic development program of the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, implemented by HELVETAS Swiss Intercooperation in partnership with Fashion and Design Chamber.

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