WORTH AMBASSADOR INTERVIEW: DR.GABRIELLA MÁNYI WALEK

We had the opportunity to interview our WORTH Ambassador from Hungary, Dr.Gabriella Mányi Walek. She has had an abundance of experience within the textile, garment and fashion industry and is now the president of the National Fashion League Hungary Association.

We wanted to learn more about her work with them, but also many other initiatives that are progressing Hungary’s creative presence globally.

 

How do you feel that your work is contributing to the progression of your countries’ creative industry and that of Europe as a whole?
The cultural and creative industries are major drivers of economies by capitalizing US $2,250 billion and creating 29.5 million jobs globally. In Europe and also in Hungary, the creative industry acts as a catalyst for change and for generating an economic wealth based on the individual creativity and talent. Also, in our country we have many talented and creative people and knowledge-intensive solutions, you can find many Hungarians among the Nobel Prize winners.

I have many activities and positions dealing with the stakeholders of the textile and fashion industry. I am the President of the National Fashion League Hungary Association, which has a role to support and promote the members’ creative work and their presence in Hungary and abroad. Recently I have focused on the sustainable and ethical fashion, as I see that the designers, producers and also the customers are interested more and more in the sustainability and environmental issues. I keep good contacts with the most well-known foreign fashion organizations, Fashion Weeks, chambers and educational institutions. NDL is an associated member of the United Fashion EU project coordinated by the MAD Design and Fashion Platform in Brussels. We have designer changes with different organisations, we invite each other to the conferences, fashion shows and events. I try to select such connections and partners, who are ready to collaborate with us and to support us in our mission to work together for a better sustainable fashion and creative industry.

I am also the president and founder of the Global Sustainable Fashion Week, which is a yearly event held in Budapest for professionals and designers dealing with sustainable and ethical fashion from all over the world. This is not a large organisation like the Copenhagen Fashion Summit, as we work with a very low budget due to the fact that we are a NGO and we do not get financial support from the state, but according to the international professionals the level of the international conferences and the eco fashion show is very high and it has a special familiar spirit. The participants from all continents are very pleased to visit Budapest and to meet their colleagues here, so we have very informative panel discussions and conversations too. Between the events we also have our own platform for our so-called #GSFWfamily community. I am so proud to follow the achievements of our “family members” too, among them you can find real change makers working in the creative industry.

The above activities contribute to the establishment of many new cross-boarder collaborations in and outside of Europe.
I am also the country coordinator of the Fashion Revolution. At our 4th Global Sustainable Fashion Week one of our keynote speakers was Carry Somers, the founder of the Fashion Revolution. The aims of the Fashion Revolution campaigns are directly in line with my mission, and with my core team we involve many young people who are joining our movement.

 

What is the most prominent challenge affecting your countries’ creative industry and how may you suggest overcoming it?
In my opinion the biggest challenge of the creative industry is how to be more sustainable and generally how to switch from a linear to a circular economy, in which the creative industry should have a special role. We have to change our thinking about the creative industry due to its complexity and its dependence on many global problems from climate change to social issues. Of course, each country like Hungary has to face specific problems which should be solved firstly locally. In Hungary we need a better coordination and collaboration at different levels, more promotion and of course more financial sources. Recently we made a proposal on a governmental level regarding how we can improve and promote the Hungarian creative industry.

Regarding my field, the textile and fashion industry, if we want to overcome these challenges we have to define the concrete and effective actions to be taken: We have to help designers and stakeholders of the creative industry in creating new designs and styles with innovation, combined with the best functionality and reliability, taking into consideration the sustainable and eco-conscious approach during the whole lifecycle of the product. Good quality products should last for a long time. If we deal with smart wear and fashion tech we should deal with these questions too! I think many designers are concentrating on the innovative solutions without thinking of the future life of their products.
We have to use more raw materials, which are biodegradable in design and production, we have to use recycled and also reconditioned fibres, materials in the design and during the production process we must pay attention to the environmental and social impacts too.
We have to reduce the waste
We have to use safer chemistry and ethical labour practices
We have to try to reduce the negative environmental impact of the textile and fashion industry in our practise (waste, pollution, climate change, over production and over consumption etc.) We have to find more innovative solutions for using renewable and green energy instead of the fossil energy sources.
We have to find more collaborations and cross-border projects to find innovative and creative solutions to meet the above criteria, such as the WORTH Partnership project.

 

Do you feel it is important to sustain aspects of creativity in your country regarding innovation, preservation of heritage values and ancient techniques?
Innovation and keeping the heritage values of a country are very important aspects of creativity. Hungary has some old traditional techniques in textiles and fashion, which we should promote. The Hungarian blue dying became a part of the UNESCO heritage, which can be used in modern fashion. Felting is also a very interesting ancient technique in Hungary, which is also used by some designers. Hemp could be a very important sustainable, eco-friendly natural fabric to be produced in Hungary. We discuss this topic regarding how to revive the old traditions of growing and processing of this plant. Many Hungarian designers go back to the old motives, embroideries and techniques, like Matyó, Kalocsa etc. designs (see also the Kalocsa embroidery on the Formula 1 outfit or Kalocsa motives on the dresses of many international stars). We have many folk artists preserving the old traditions and techniques. I personally promote these initiatives at our Global Sustainable Fashion Week too. Sustainability cannot be without heritage!

 

What are some current events or initiatives you have taken part in and wish to promote further, what was your involvement in these?
As well as the previously mentioned international connections, we also have our own events, together with #GSFW we organised different events, workshops, conferences, photo shootings etc. dedicated to the Fashion Revolutions campaign too. I am constantly invited to attend different conferences and fashion events from Milano to Hong Kong and Dubai. The only problem is our financial budget to accept these invitations. I do hope that we can get more support in the future as I think we deserved it due to our achievements.

My aim is to develop the following fields of activity:
● To organise GSFW’s special editions like road shows in different cities, also abroad
● More international media and promotional opportunities
● Support for external market appearances (fairs and fashion weeks)
● Brand building assistance from international experts – On-site and online consultations
● Information about new competitions for our designers
● Training opportunities abroad

 

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