This week has seen a series of events celebrating and promoting the ‘Fostering Sustainable Practices’ research project. This ambitious project was ran by the Centre for Sustainable Fashion along with other academics at the Open University and the University of Middlesex and key industry partners.
Along with 26 other micro and small enterprises (MSEs) my business was used a case study for the research. The project investigated the creative practices of such business as a potential for change towards a more sustainable future within the fashion industry. They looked at business models, design, practices, ecosystems, networks and operations.
They found that the MSEs (including Boy Wonder) had pioneering visions, but face real struggles in an industry that is still rigid in it ways of doing things. I wanted to highlight a few of the other amazing pioneers in the project that I am proud to sit alongside.
Christopher Raeburn creates innovative and responsible design by reworking surplus fabrics and garments. Decommissioned military stock including nylon parachutes are deconstructed and transformed into ethical and unique pieces. They hold regular open studio days where customers can go along and make things from scrap fabrics. Having trained in menswear the utility of the garments and their bright colours and graphic touches really appeal to me.
Bethany Williams’ label is a social enterprise which works with some of the most disadvantaged people in society. She works with the Magpie Project who support homeless people, many of whom are women refugees and those fleeing domestic abuse. Not only does the brand support this charity financially but each collection shouts about issues in these communities very loudly. But also the garments are made by women ex-offenders and day-release prisoners. Everything is recycled, organic or hand-made including re-using waste from a toy factory and bell-tents left behind at festivals. She creates real change through her work right on her doorstep which is so inspiring to me.
Birdsong are a feminist brand who work with makers who face barriers to employment such as migrant women and pay them a London living wage. Through their work and partners they train their makers in sewing, hand-painting textiles and screen-printing. Their knitwear is made by expert older women at knitting groups. Their packing and posting is done by a adults with learning difficulties. Their garments are made from reclaimed and organic materials. They also use real women of all shapes and sizes in their imagery as their mantra is ‘no sweatshops, no photoshop’ which is so refreshing. I covet their beautiful printed dresses!
The policy recommendations and the digital guidebook for support organisations will hopefully push the industry, fashion education and investors towards better practices both environmental and social. If this post interested you you might also like to read Is Brexit Killing The Fashion Industry? and What Is Being Done To Fix Fashion? You can check out the Boy Wonder brand’s sustainable practices here.