Glamorous evening for Bosnian migrants presenting a fashion brand

SARAJEVO, Bosnia and Herzegovina (AP) — For one evening, migrants in Bosnia were able to escape the hardships of their daily lives for the glamor of the world of fashion.

A fashion show featuring migrant models was held Thursday evening in the Bosnian capital, Sarajevo, showcasing a brand created by migrants from reception centers in the Balkan country and a Bosnian designer.

The event held at Sarajevo’s City Hall also aimed to mark International Migration Day this weekend and promote the integration of people who have been forced to flee their homes to escape poverty. war, violence or poverty.

“It’s really important to recognize that migrants have contributed so much to the world and that there are so many different migration routes,” said Ingrid Macdonald, UN Resident Coordinator in Bosnia.

Macdonald hailed “these incredible people who have come here and are contributing to Bosnia and Herzegovina.”

Dubbed ‘No Nation Fashion’, the migrant-made fashion brand project began last June, through a sewing project for migrants in some of the reception centres, which initially made reusable face masks during the pandemic.

Supported by international organizations in Bosnia and with the help of Bosnian designer Aleksandra Lovric, migrants have started to create clothing and accessories “made by people on the move”, for both themselves and the local community.

Mixing cultures, exchanging ideas and creating creativity from people from different parts of the world, the fashion brand has shown the power of inclusion and diversity, says Laura Lungarotti, of the International Organization for Migration in Bosnia .

Bosnia is home to around 4,000 people who remain stuck in the Balkan country while seeking ways to move to Western Europe. The impoverished nation sits on the so-called Balkan route for migrants from Turkey and Greece and across the region to the European Union.

Migrants in Bosnia mainly try to cross to neighboring EU country Croatia before heading further west. Many migrants regularly face closed borders and have complained of pushbacks and violence by Croatian police.

Still scarred by their own trauma from a 1990s war, many Bosnians showed sympathy for migrants, even as the country struggled with the influx of thousands who needed shelter.

Lovric said she wanted to do whatever she could to help improve the lives of people in the camps.

“I wanted them to feel like normal human beings,” the designer said. “They are all on a difficult road, carrying strong emotions, and something good always comes out of such emotions.”

During Thursday’s fashion show, migrant models appeared on the catwalk with creations meant to symbolize the different stages of their journey – the “nomadic” route away from home and the transit to new lives in new countries. The sign in the background read ‘We are strong’ and ‘We are smiling’.

Organizers said they plan to expand the project to more reception centers and establish cooperation with technical schools and universities in Bosnia.

“Working side by side, migrants and Bosnian designers have come together and created this fantastic work of art and it really shows how beneficial diversity and cross-cultural exchange can be for migrants and for the host society. “said Lungarotti.

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Follow AP’s global migration coverage at https://apnews.com/hub/migration

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