The path to integration goes through the wardrobe

More knowledge about Middle-Eastern fashion for researchers and companies, and better social integration for a group of refugee women. That is the ambition of THREAD, a three-year, cross-disciplinary research project involving Design School Kolding.

On Thursday 6 September Design School Kolding will once again frame the clicking of knitting pins and singing, foreign accents practicing words like ’crochet’, ’embroidery’ and ’sewing on sewing machine’. The Fenuun community is beginning a new season encouraging women of many cultures to come together and enjoy the pleasure of working with their hands.

The initiative is directly linked to a far bigger and more comprehensive collaboration project between refugee women, different research environments and the Danish fashion industry. The title of the project is THREAD and the purpose is to explore new paths to achieving successful integration.

- Refugee women rarely arrive in Denmark with a suitcase full of diplomas. However, they do bring a number of competences and skills that are enormously relevant to the Danish fashion and textile industry, says Else Skjold, Assistant Professor at Design School Kolding.

- For example only very few Danish designers have any knowledge about the dress style of Middle-Eastern women. By setting up this partnership, where we gain access to the wardrobes of these women and the stories that come with each clothing item, we researchers acquire new knowledge that we can process into product development for the Danish clothing industry.

Much more independence
In return for giving designers and researchers access to exploring dresses, veils and jewellery, the refugee women presumably get a headstart in becoming successfully integrated into the Danish society. Through initiatives such as Fenuun, but also through trial employments and access to new networks, the 100 women participating in the project will hopefully be much more equipped to enter the Danish job market when the project ends in autumn of 2019.

- THREAD is about exploring a new integration model where we use fashion and textiles as leverage. The local integration centre as well as Business Kolding have welcomed us with open arms, not previously realizing the hidden potential of the women’s experiences and skills. Therefore, we hope to be able to find funding to continue the effort after THREAD finishes. You see, the goal is to give the women a better personal network and financial independence long-term. It’s about sustainability and social inclusion, says Else Skjold, Assistant Professor.

About Fenuun
Show up in the auditorium at Design School Kolding every Thursday from 17.00-20.00. We begin Thursday 6 September. Everybody is welcome, as long as you want to sew, knit, crochet, etc. Bring a piece that you are already working on and see what happens.

THREAD is funded by Innovation Fund Denmark. The project is registered at the Centre for Textile Research at Copenhagen University and involves UCC, Design School Kolding and Viking Village Zealand.