Bauyrzhan Shadibekov Opens Up About Visa Fashion Week Almaty

Eurasia is a region that we in North America can forget exists, but it’s there. It’s vast, stretching from Iceland to the Iberian Peninsula, onwards to the eastern edges of Russia. It borders Africa and touches three oceans: the Atlantic, the Pacific, and the Arctic. With over five billion people that take up over seventy percent of the world’s population that means there is a cultural boom of art, fashion, food, and music to be had. Set to unveil in its seventh edition is the VISA Fashion Week in Almaty, Kazakhstan, which will be held May 3-4th at the Ritz-Carlton Almaty. The fashion week is actually being done in two parts, the first part will be May 3-4th in Almaty, with the second part taking place May 26-27th in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.

Almaty is a vibrant cosmopolitan city of surrounded by the Trans-lli Alatau Mountains. A lot of regional designers live in Almaty, as well as influencers and bloggers. It’s also a free place where people can be themselves and live how they want. The city also gives way to a prosperous fashion industry where big events, parties, and dinners by leading brands is a norm. So, it’s no wonder

The two-day fashion week will include autumn-winter 2024 collections, as well as highlight the cultural aspects of Eurasia. Local and international designers will showcase their work. The fashion week is helmed by Bauyrzhan Shadibekov, General Director and CEO of VISA Fashion Week Almaty. Shadibekov opens up about his involvement as co-owner of the Fashion Bureau Almaty since 2012, and how his dedication has always been to elevate the region and show the world what Eurasia has to offer creatively.

“I have been fully dedicated to fostering the growth of the creative sector of national culture, successfully organizing over 600 events for renowned brands such as Bvlgari, IQOS, The Macallan, Constella, Rixos to mention a few,” says Shadibekov.

“Among the agency’s most notable accomplishments is the establishment of Esentai Mall, Kazakhstan’s premier fashion store. But, in 2019 I decided I wanted to do more for my country, to sustain its culture and its creative talents; this is how I started my adventure with VISA Fashion Week Almaty, I am driven by social responsibility and a desire to position Kazakhstan as a valued contributor to the global cultural progress. My passion for the industry is unwavering, and my significant contributions to the development of fashion in Kazakhstan reflect my dedication to this pursuit.”

Why Almaty?

So why Almaty out of all the other Eurasian nations to host a major fashion week? “Central Asia’s rich and ancient culture, combined with its natural beauty makes it an important region for the fashion industry,” muses Shadibekov.

“This region is home to a diverse range of traditional textile techniques, such as ikat, suzani, and khan-atlas, that have been passed down for generations. These unique techniques, along with the use of natural dyes and fibers, have inspired many contemporary designers around the world. This is what makes our fashion unique: through the years we carry what our ancestors left us. In addition, Central Asia’s strategic location at the crossroads of Europe and Asia makes it an important hub for trade and commerce. As the region continues to develop, there is potential for growth in the fashion industry, with the emergence of new designers, brands, and markets,” he says.

How Eurasian designers differ to Western designers

“While Western designers have created many successful brands, much of it is geared towards mass-market production. In contrast, Central Asian fashion is more environmentally conscious, with designers often utilizing natural and costly fabrics that are both long-lasting and sustainable,” says Shadibekov.

“Rather than creating collections with a vast array of items, Central Asian designers often produce limited runs and incorporate upcycling techniques to minimize waste and protect the planet. Ultimately, fashion is a matter of personal preference, and Central Asian fashion offers a diverse range of unique and individual styles to suit all tastes. In terms of design, each country has its own unique history and traditions that inform its creative output. However, Central Asian fashion serves as an inspiring reminder of the importance of honoring one’s heritage while also exploring new textures, collaborating with other creatives, and pushing the boundaries of design. It is no wonder that Central Asian fashion is now receiving the recognition and attention it deserves.”

There are quite a lot of designers in the region that have captured the attention of the world’s stage. Aiman Orynbasarova and Sholpan Nurmukhambetova from Kazakhstan are known for their brand Aisho Atelier. And Alima Murzabekova is also known internationally.

Kyrgzstan designer Dinara Ratsko is known for her black and white silhouettes, wide dresses, and hand painted textiles. Nafisa Imravova from Tajikistan, is known for her love of her country, incorporating national touches with European styles. And, Suhrob Habib is known for his men’s designs, particularly for men’s suits.

“Kazakhstan is a rich source of gifted young designers who demonstrate remarkable boldness in their work, pushing the boundaries of experimentation, incorporating new details and utilizing technology. As a result, their designs are increasingly being recognized and worn in the world’s leading fashion hubs, with many participating in major fashion events and collaborating with established brands,” continues Shadibekov.

Explaining one aspect of why fashion thrives well in the region, Shadibekov notes that accessibility is one reason that leads to brands being able to cater to individuals and their preferences. “The use of high-quality, natural fabrics ensures longevity and durability, with many items remaining in wardrobes for years to come,” is another aspect. “In this way, Central Asia’s fashion heritage continues to thrive,” he says.

A historic theme

This year’s fashion week theme is “the Great Silk Road,” an ancient trade route that connected Asia and Europe. It literally connected millions of people. “Even though those were challenging times, the era was also rich in the aesthetics and fabrics that have come to define the region’s unique style. This year, Visa FWA will hold its first international fashion week in Tashkent, Uzbekistan. We believe that the concept of the Silk Road perfectly represents our shared heritage, unity, and friendship between countries. This is an exceptional event for the fashion industry and one that we are thrilled to be a part of,” says Shadibekov.

What’s to be expected

Violett Fedorova, the Chief Editor of Vogue Ukraine; Luca Rizzi, Director of Pitti Uomo, Raphael Deray, luxury buyer for Printemps, Christian Vierig, renowned street photographer is among their esteemed guests. “Our aim is to elevate our designers to an international level and give them the exposure they deserve. The entire Visa FWA team is thrilled to provide this opportunity and contribute to the growth and prosperity of the fashion industry,” notes Shadibekov.

“I am committed to providing our guests with an exceptional experience and making a meaningful contribution to the fashion industry in Kazakhstan,” says Shadibekov. “Our partners are among the best, and VISA, our title partner, shares our passion for the industry’s growth and prosperity. We invest significant time and effort in preparing for each season and this year we are taking our brand to the international stage by launching fashion weeks in Tashkent. In collaboration with VISA, we are also excited to introduce a special project, the “New Designers Competition,” which will provide an incredible opportunity for designers and offer significant benefits for their growth and development. Stay tuned for more details!”

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