Calling All Designers: A Sustainable Fashion Accessories Design Competition

If you’re a fashion designer, how does this sound: travel & production budget, staying abroad, exquisite business training, and an accessories collection with Your Name on it, covered by a major fashion magazine? 

Brought to life by the Berlin-based accessory brand Abury, the ADEx fashion competition for young, emerging designers and design students, a first of this kind, successfully premiered in 2015 and returns in 2016.

Details can be found right here at the official ADEx page and we’ll get to talk about them, but I want to revel in interesting facts for us consumers and lovers of sustainable fashion first.abury_designex_poster2016


If you don’t know Abury, here’s a brief intro:

ABURY a Berlin-based, 2008-established ethical accessories company that redefines luxury by building fashion business opportunities for fragile rural comminites, strengthening local, traditional crafts, training the (mostly) female artisans, supporting education and healthcare in those communities, and just being plain adorable being a advocate for a fair and ethical fashion industry. The latter not only by means of their own work, but also through a series of fantastic FAB talks that I spoke about not so long ago.

Abury collections include gorgeous berger handbags from Morocco, rich knits from Ecuador and many other original accessories with the unmistakable charm of a hand-made piece and a very modern, urban design aesthetics.

Of course, working – mostly – with traditional materials such as goat leather and alpaka wool means that vegans are not going to be particularly happy, but this concern aside, Abury does a beautiful job in empowering artisans, in preserving cultural goods, briefly: in merging business, culture, and ethics.


In 2015, the first winner of the ADEx competition was Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri, a particularly talented designer from Zimbabwe with a rather extraordinary path to fashion.

Pam_Samasuwo-Nyawiri_ADEx-Winner-2015An established journalist and a mother of two, Pam has decided to move away from home to study fashion design at a time in her life when others seek to settle for a career. And the fate favoured this bold decision: not only is Pam the first African designer ever to be nominated for the Vogue and Muuse ‘Best International Emerging Fashion Accessory Designer’ in 2014 and for the Mulberry Accessory Award, she has also won the academic fashion award from the Nottingham Trent University. Her 2015-established accessories brand Vanhu Vamwe received numerous accolades during the launch year as well. Talking about stars aligning!

Pam Samasuwo-Nyawiri’s winner collection with ABURY named A Non Existent Tribe consists of six handbag models made from leather, bast and alpaca wool. Inspired by the cultural similarities of Himba tribes of Namibia and the indigenous people of Ecuador, the pieces offer a universally appealing, timeless way of carrying your belongings.

Abury-A-Non-Existent-Tribe-artisansAbury-A-Non-Existent-Tribe-lookbookAbury-A-Non-Existent-Tribe-who-made-my-bagIn December 2015, to launch A Non Existent Tribe, Abury invited a couple of bloggers to a breakfast with Pam, who, based in the UK, spoke to the group via Skype video. The Berlin showroom was abuzz with expectation and, with Christmas tunes and mandarine scent in the air, I must say, everybody fell in love with the energetic, cheerful woman whose youthful presence and curiosity were absolutely contagious despite the distance.Abury_LaunchEvent_2015The collection then was discussed over chai tea, healthy snacks and – blissfully soothing in December – hand massages kindly offered by Abury’s long-term sponsor and partner company Dr Hauschka.


Now let’s get back to the competition for you or for the sake of your aspiring designer friends, shall we!

So, what is it?
The ABURY Design Experience (ADEx) is the first international contest in search for emerging designers to create an accessory capsule collection using traditional crafts knowledge from different cultures.

What’s in it for the winner?
A travel and production budget of up to €5000; up to three months in either Morocco or Ecuador; business training from the competition partners at KPMG, and much more.

How is the winner found?
By a combination of a jury vote and public voting. The jury panel includes sustainable fashion pioneers such as Bibi Russell, Andrea Bury, Eva Padberg, and Fashion Revolution Co-founder Orsola de Castro as well as fashion experts from business and media. More details here.

How to enter?
Click! – And better hurry, submissions are accepted until March 20th 2016! Update: extended until March 31st 2016.

Why is it so relevant to participate and to share?
The ABURY Design Experience is a unique way to preserve more world crafts, present more emerging talented designers to the fashion industry, and to support local communities. 50% of the collection profits will be re-invested in education projects in Ecuador.ADEx-Abury-Design-Experience-2016

BEAUTYCALYPSE wishes all participants good luck, and winners:
See you soon!


8 Comments on “Calling All Designers: A Sustainable Fashion Accessories Design Competition

  1. Pingback: My Guest Post for One of a Mind Magazine | LIVING ETHICAL EXCELLENCE

    • Indeed 🙂 Returning next year again I suppose

  2. Me too. I have pledged to never buy new leather goods again, but that Lolita bag *is* calling my name. I secretly hope that a vegan designer wins who then comes up with some glorious ethical mischief! 😀

    • Sorry I’ve “misplaced” my reply. Here it goes again:

      Me too. I have pledged to never buy new leather goods again, but that Lolita bag *is* calling my name. I secretly hope that a vegan designer wins who then comes up with some glorious ethical mischief! 😀

      • That would be fun. I posted your blog on my Facebook in case someone in this part of the world is interested. I do know someone in Fiji who could be interested but I think in the aftermath of the cyclone there will be other things on her mind.

        • Thank you for sharing! And hopefully people are safe…