Fashion Week Tunis has been working hard to build confidence in bringing back contracts to their factories that manufactured everything from high-street brands like Maje to Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. A lot has happened since the Arab Spring, and now in its 11th Edition, we have seen some major changes, both socially and aesthetically. Earlier in the year saw the launch of the art space B7L9 by artists, for artists, and artists like the ST4 the project are starting to get attention. The children of the Arab Spring are starting to grow up and looking for the future. You can feel the youthful vibe as they are searching for something.

Kicking off the first night were student collections from the L’Institut Supérieur des Métiers de la Mode de Monastir designed around the theme non-binary. This is a big step forward in the country and a quiet statement while other countries around the world are celebrating Pride month. It is really just a launching point for the students to explore their creativity that doesn’t see borders. Unisex was a theme that ran throughout the four days for several designers, all in different interpretations. It doesn’t matter if we have already seen the theme in Paris, the important thing is that they adapt it to their local market and potential clients.

This encompasses a wider shift, speaking to the designer behind the label Soltana, she explained that outerwear and casual isn’t something that many Tunisians grasp like in the States. Usually, you don’t wear it outside your home or gym in Tunisia.

In many ways, it did feel like a Y2K time machine, but heck, the noughties are coming back and designers are doing it with more honestly than in the fashion capitals. It is easy to also take for granted that the Fashion Week is a place where people can go and dress as they want without shame.

Tapping in on an exchange of creative minds were guest designers Atelier Chardon Savard from Paris and Dare Reda from Belgium showing how trends from abroad can be translated to the local market. Meanwhile, brands to watch included Anissa Aida, La Collection National and Seyf Dean Laouiti showed in addition to his namesake brand, three more for commercial houses. Which is a task to design with being budget conscious in mind.

Photographer Marc Medina takes us backstage at the historic Cathrage for a closer look and an up-close glimpse at the youth energy of today.