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DIVERCITIES Newsletter #4

Welcome to the fourth issue of our newsletter! Launched in March 2013, DIVERCITIES brings together 14 accomplished partners to collaborate on a four-year research project funded by the 7th Framework Programme of the European Commission. The main objective of DIVERCITIES is to examine how diversity can foster social cohesion, social mobility and economic performance in European cities.

The Golden Drops of Fashion and Design  

Les Gouttes D’Or de la Mode et du Design 

Angéline Escafre (DIVERCITIES researcher) talks with Adikatou Beaurepaire (co-founder, Les Gouttes d’Or de la Mode et du Design) about the association’s aims to structure the garment and fashion industries in the immigrant neighbourhood of La Goutte d’or in Paris.

The project is one of many initiatives being studied in DIVERCITIES’ Work Package 5: Governance Arrangements and Initiatives as an example where diversity is utilised as an asset, to improve the economic development of a deprived area and to promote the social mobility of newcomers.

The neighbourhood of La Goutte d’or already counts 63 fabric stores, 33 sewing workshops, five haberdasheries and 20 fashion designers. The goal of the project is to go from a niche to a cluster, by putting industry professionals in contact with one another, providing them with skills development and helping them promote their productions outside the neighbourhood. Having started the project in 2011, the ultimate aim is to develop its own Made in Goutte d’Or label.

How did the idea for The Golden Drops of Fashion and Design come about?

The idea for the project came from the local development team. (Editor’s Note: As part of France’s ‘City Policy’, each ‘priority neighbourhood’ is assigned a ‘local development team’ consisting of a project manager and several officers who help connect inhabitants with the administration and help them set up local projects.) I had been in touch with them when I started my business as a fabric seller and they helped me locate a space for my shop. The very shop we are sitting in today! As soon as they contacted me and several other shopkeepers and tailors, we thought the project was a great idea because none of us knew each other or what was going on in the neighbourhood even though we were all in the same business.

What is your role in the project and how does your background and experience support the interests of the project?

I used to sell fabric in the Ivory Coast where I come from, but when I arrived in France I started off working as a cleaner and babysitter. My experience is that it isveryhard to start your own business. When you do not have your own space, other people who are already in the business may try to exploit you. When you cannot rely on skilled people you may lose customers too. For instance, I started off just selling fabric in the beginning and I lost a lot of customers by sending them to tailors who did not do a good job. Either they wasted the fabric or they did not do bespoke tailoring properly.

Some people have dreams but they do not know how to make them happen, they do not know how important it is to invest, how to fix prices, or how to professionalise their business. Our association aims to provide this kind of assistance.

What are the main objectives of the project and can you give an example of a plan/strategy to achieve these goals?

Our dream is to fix common prices for everyone. Those that sell fabrics and custom-design clothes without paying taxes create a form of unfair competition. We also want to mutualise our means to buy machines and have a showroom for everyone. We really need this because when we have big orders we need to work a lot and hire more people for a limited period of time. So we need more machines and space.

Who are the key players (participants, supporters, target audience, etc)?

So far, there are about 20 participants (fabric sellers, tailors and designers), but the key players are the four founding members of the association, such as Luc Dognin, who specialises in fashion accessories, for instance. Our goal is to reach newcomers to the neighbourhood who want to start working in this industry.

The local authorities are very supportive, and we (myself and the other tailors) all agree that something needs to be done to create better structures in this field of activity. We also want to change the image of this neighbourhood.

What types of diversity are evident in this project?

There is a lot of diversity in this project because there are many Africans participating.  But there are also French people too who do not have an immigrant background. Moreover, it is not only about sewing. There are also people who design bags, shoes or specialise in decoration. So there is diversity in terms of activities also.

Are there specific needs or gaps in knowledge or experience of the project participants and how will these be

Yes, there are great differences. Some have no idea what it is to run a business or what they are aiming for. They just do what they have seen other people doing: their parents, their aunt, their boss… So, I have had people joining the project who want to understand what it means to fix prices, to earn a customer’s trust, and so on and so forth. But mainly, most participants have an interest in professionalising their business.

The Goutte d’Or neighbourhood is known for its ethnic fashion, but with this project we want to go beyond that idea and make it more professional.

Polish Policy Platform Meeting

10 February 2014, Warsaw

ATTENDEES (L-R): Andrzej Włodarczyk, Mirosław Grochowski, Andrzej Łoś, Franz Thun, Ewa Korcelli-Olejniczak, Katarzyna Urbańska, Grzegorz Węcławowicz, Tomasz Sławiński, Adam Bierzyński

The first meeting of the Warsaw Policy Platform took place on 10 February 2014 at the Institute of Geography and Spatial Organization, Polish Academy of Sciences.

Firstly, an overview of the DIVERCITIES project was presented by Ewa Korcelli-Olejniczak. The latter half of the meeting was devoted to the main research findings of Work Package 4: Assessment of Urban Policies. The discussion focused on the direction and objectives of Poland’s migration and integration policies, activity fields within diversity policy in Warsaw, and key challenges related to an active pro-diversity policy.

The selected fieldwork areas (Praga Północ and Praga Południe districts) and the governance arrangements proposed by the Warsaw DIVERCITIES team were also discussed. Participants of the meeting agreed that children and elderly persons constitute the main target groups for the majority of initiatives in Praga Północ. At the same time, there appears to be a clash between the traditional ‘folklore’ culture and the ‘creative class’ lifestyles of newcomers. This has resulted in numerous initiatives related to cultural integration.

According to the Policy Platform members, the most useful initiatives to investigate are those that aim to integrate both old and new residents and increase social cohesion within and amongst resident groups of varying ages and social backgrounds. The Local Urban Renewal Project 2005-2013 was cited as an example of such as arrangement.

The next Policy Platform meeting will be held in the district of Praga Północ in 2015.

EURA/UAA ‘City Futures’ Conference

18-20 June 2014

Paris, France

The European Urban Research Association (EURA) and the Urban Affairs Association (UAA) held their third joint conference ‘City Futures‘ examining the future of cities and their role in shaping our world.

The Scientific Steering Committee (Gideon Bolt, Tuna Tasan-Kok, Mike Raco and Ronald van Kempen) organised a special session called “Urban Diversity: Challenges and Opportunities”.

Ronald van Kempen gave a brief overview of the aims of the project and an explanation of the term ‘hyper-diversity’. Jan Vranken (one of DIVERCITIES’ external advisors) presented a conceptual paper on the contribution of poor people to ‘super-diversity’.

Other presentations included those on urban policies dealing with diversity in London, Toronto and Athens (Mike Raco, Donya Ahmadi and Nicos Souliotis) and a comparative overview of different types of diversity in post-socialist European cities (Annegret Haase).

Photos from the event can be viewed on our website:

New on our Website

Videos of our Masterclasses and events can be viewed on our website:

Our new Policy Brief is available for download at: 

Consortium Partners & Advisory Board

Consortium Partners:

University of Antwerp, Belgium

Aalborg University, Denmark

University of Tartu, Estonia

University Paris-Est Créteil, France

Helmholtz Centre for Environmental Research – UFZ, Germany

National Centre for Social Research (EKKE), Greece

University of Szeged, Hungary

University of Urbino Carlo Bo, Italy

Delft University of Technology (TUDelft), Netherlands

Polish Academy of Sciences, Poland

synergo Mobility-Politics-Space GmbH, Switzerland

Middle East Technical University (METU), Turkey

University College London, United Kingdom

Advisory Board:

Jan Vranken, University of Antwerp, Belgium

David Hulchanski, University of Toronto, Canada

Project Coordinator


Prof. Ronald van Kempen

Utrecht University

Faculty of Geosciences

P.O. Box 80.115

3508 TC Utrecht

The Netherlands






© DIVERCITIES, Utrecht University, 2014LEGAL NOTICE: The views expressed in this newsletter are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the European Commission
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