Designer collections created within the Echo Academies project

Designer collections created within the Echo Academies arts project

We are very happy to present the results of the second stage of the Echo Academies arts project of the Open Space Foundation, which aims to promote young and emerging European talents. Ten young designers from Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands, Lithuania, Turkey, Kosovo and Albania took part in the competition, which took place in October 2023.
A professional jury selected three fashion collections that the Open Space Foundation financed to be produced. Selection criteria were innovative and interesting presentation of the theme, experimental elements and potential of the collection to be realized and worn.
Here are moments from the events where the designers presented their collections:
Yllka Haxhiu (Kosovo) includes in her collection the traditional check of the Rhodope costume and the patchwork as a technique that enlivens and gives a playful character to the clothes.

Photos: Dion Gjoka

Yordan Mihalev (Bulgaria) presented refined fashion, offering a good fusion between traditions and the new age. The details borrowed from the Rhodope costume are present in the clothing, in an obtrusive way, giving a pleasant sophistication.

Photos Tsanislav Hristov

Jose Marie Sta Iglesias (born in the Philippines, designer based in the Netherlands) reminded with his collection that great designers know how to read the codes and masterfully transfer them to the new age. A bold and interesting decision in his work is the new life he gives to the decoration with cords. The creator showed playing with the shape of the costume and experimenting with geometry.


Pepa Veleva – Chairman of the Board of Directors of the “Open Space” Foundation, shared the following about the Echo Academies competition: “We are glad that the competition provided a platform for talented designers to show their unique and innovative ideas. Each of the participants experimented with new techniques and materials. He also managed to present his models in an inspiring and at the same time different way to an audience. I want to thank all participants for their creativity and efforts. I wish the young designers much success in their future creative endeavors. Clearly, there is much to learn and borrow from the past. It’s great to see the new readout and I hope we see it in other models as well.”

Today we’re announcing awards for designers based on: quality craftsmanship, presentation strategy, as well as success in reaching audiences (something we hope will evolve over time). Based on these indicators, collections receive the following awards and cash prizes:
First place for Ilka Ahiu (Kosovo) and a prize of 3000 euros
The second place goes to Yordan Mihalev (Bulgaria) and a prize of 2000 euros
Third place: Jose Marie Sta Iglesias (Netherlands), who receives a prize of 1,000 euros
The project is implemented with the financial support of the Creative Europe program of the European Union and the National Culture Fund.