As the environmental accumulation of anger finally found entry into fashion, this empowered a wave of both emerging and established designers to discuss and react through their work. Protest was potent last year, and in its wake it wasn’t clear what could come next.
Now with the noticeable effects of the Weinstein scandal and the #Metoo movement, what Men’s fashion season might make of it all appeared ambiguous. Additionally, although “Anti” fashion had felt thick in the air, to forge ahead from resistance, and affect real results takes tactical re-assessment and actual action.
In asking how fashion might make this happen, our answer arrived with little to no wait— with the LFWM lead off by British menswear designer Bethany Williams. Williams’ multifaceted project, Women of Change, debuted the designer’s wearable collection as well as presented the premiere of a film created in collaboration with director Crack Stevens. An advocate of sustainable style, and ethical action throughout all the arts, Williams has played a vital part in fashion finding a voice. But with Women of Change, Williams’ work takes on new territory, offering the much-needed map of a world after awareness, after angst, making a clear solution for what must come next: second chances.
The film is a poetic narrative inspired by the women of San Patrignano and London College of Fashion, UAL’s Making for Change programme – two pioneering rehabilitative programmes which work closely with vulnerable women and explores their different paths to rehabilitation. The film explores themes of ‘second chances’ which draws parallels between the second chance given to the discarded materials from which Bethany created the fabrics at San Patrignano, and the second chance given to the women involved in both of these innovative programmes.
The film celebrates the strength of these communities and provides an arresting look at how fashion can effect social and environmental change. The film represents Bethany’s vision for a fashion industry that has the power to positively impact on people’s lives – and how each and every designer can impact the world through designing differently and not being afraid to break with convention and challenge the industry to be better.
Through this film Bethany will present her Spring/Summer 2018 work, moving away from seasonal presentations and slowing the industry to create collections which are socially and environmentally conscious. The "Women of Change” collection developed through Bethany’s involvement in an ongoing collaborative project between Fondazione Zegna and London College of Fashion, UAL.
The project considers the human interactions associated with fashion manufacturing, and facilitates dialogue between students and the rehabilitative making communities of San Patrignano and Making for Change. As part of the film screening the presentation will include TIH Models, a new modelling agency supporting youth in London affected by homelessness.
The "Women of Change” collection developed through Bethany’s involvement in an ongoing collaborative project between Fondazione Zegna and London College of Fashion, UAL. The project considers the human interactions associated with fashion manufacturing, and facilitates dialogue between students and the rehabilitative making communities of San Patrignano and Making for Change.
For her Spring/Summer 2018 collection, “Attenzione” electrical tape and wine bottle packaging were woven into practical and durable new textiles at San Patrignano and used to create outerwear, and the inspiring stories of the women she met were woven into a printed textile collage. Jersey pieces from the collection were also produced collaboratively with the women at Making for Change.
The collection also funnels money back into the enterprises – 10% of the profit from each garment sold is donated to San Patrignano, and a further 10% is donated to LCF’s Making for Change to purchase new machinery. As well as integrating socially conscious design into her collection Bethany is equally committed to sustainability and sourcing. The knitwear from ‘Women of Change’ has been created through taking recycled wool and denim from Kent and then hand knitting them through cottage industry on the Isle of Man where she grew up. Raw materials are sourced from Chris Carney Collections, a recycling and sorting facility where it goes on to be washed, cut and unraveled before the hand knitting process. Other denim elements within the collection are sourced alongside this and unpicked before being reconstituted into new garments.