Every piece of clothing tells a story. When worn by migrants, refugees and asylum seekers, clothes tell a tale of remembrance of the past and striving for the future.  

"Wearin’ it Together”, a journey of inclusion through fashion, features a powerful photographic exhibition about IOM project No Nation Fashion, in collaboration with renowned photographer Franco Pagetti, powered by IOM. After its grand opening in Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina, the exhibition will open its doors in Belgrade, Serbia on March 15, before travelling to the European Parliament in April 2024. 

Through the lens of high fashion juxtaposed with authentic settings, the campaign's visuals are challenge traditional narratives and stereotypes associated with migration, encouraging viewers to reflect on their preconceptions. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti

“I never thought this day would come, me being here, modeling”, says Monique, a professionally-trained model, striking a pose. “My journey in the industry wasn’t easy back home in Burundi”. She took part in countless modelling shows but found few opportunities. For Monique, migrating to a different environment helped her achieve her dream. 

Portrait of Monique, from Burundi. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti

Ousmane too dreams of the spotlight. After fleeing from Guinea, he went through many hardships to reach Serbia, but his will and motivation remain intact. A popular singer, musician and song-writer in his own country, he wishes to hold concerts again: “I practice every day at my place, I put an instrumental on and I sing to the music I wrote by myself”. 

Sami was born in Afghanistan. He arrived in Serbia from Iran seven years ago, and he is now studying fashion design in Belgrade. “I would like to work in women’s fashion, and see my work exhibited.”  Collaborating firsthand with Franco Pagetti and No Nation Fashion represents a unique experience for Sami, a memorable step on his road to a bright career as a designer. 

Cynthia and Iteka Lymka Alix, both from Burundi, juggle raising their children, integrating in their new host country and fulfilling their dreams. “I need to get my baby into kindergarten first so I can find a job and manage things” says Cyntia.  

Photo on left: Portrait of Ousmane, from Burundi. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti Photo on right: Portrait of Daniel, from Cuba. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti

As for Celindia-Rachelle and Lola Brigitte, also from Burundi, they would like to continue their education as they wish to stay in Serbia. “I want to arrange my life here, to live here. People in Serbia are so good. I work in fast-food restaurant. Sometimes it’s not easy, because of the language. I’d like to learn Serbian”, says Celindia-Rachelle. 

Daniel is from Cuba and he has been in Belgrade for two years. He is a Spanish philologist and used to be a professor at the University of Havana. He would love to teach again and to be involved in academia. “I love the city and the energy of the people. I came alone, but I have some friends here from Cuba. They gave me a lot of support. Also, I made a lot of good Serbian friends. In general, I feel comfortable here,” says Daniel. But most of all, he would love to go to see his family and to meet with his parents again: “I know it will be hard, going out of Cuba is hard, but I would love to be with my family again.” 

Aya and Ammina adorned by No Nation Fashion enjoying traditional "Bosanka Kafa” in Sarajevo. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti

The lens of Franco Pagetti delved into the heart of Sarajevo and Belgrade, capturing the essence of individuals from diverse corners of the world. These stories show unique perspectives, personal and professional backgrounds, contributions and achievements, as well as hopes and dreams of people who left their homes and now strive to build their lives elsewhere. 

Captured in the streets of Belgrade and Sarajevo, the Photos of Wearin’it highlights the positive impact of fashion. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti

The visuals shed light on the resilient stories of those navigating the intricate journey of migration, breaking stereotypical media representations, instead embracing people’s diversity and multiculturality. 

Above all, it demonstrates the potential of fashion as a powerful medium for self-expression, allowing individuals to communicate their identities, aspirations, and cultural affiliations.  

Photo on left: Wearin’ it together is capturing the essence of individuals from diverese corners of the world, adorned by No Nation Fashion. Photo IOM Franco Pagetti Photo on right: Daniel, Viktoria and Cynthia engaging with local producers while shoppin

Through this lens, No Nation Fashion recognizes the transformative potential of fashion as a universal language of art and innovation. It envisions fashion as a bridge that transcends borders, connecting people from diverse backgrounds and experiences and creating opportunities for both migrants and host communities. By harnessing the creative potential of fashion, NNF endeavors to construct more inclusive societies and celebrate diversity. 

Written by François Lhoumeau, IOM Western Balkans Communications Officer 

SDG 10 - Reduced Inequalities