BFW 2013: Sustain

Words > Jennie Davies
All Photos > Emma Bailey copyright Pretty Litter Magazine

Tonight’s show was an ethically minded affair with eleven designers showcasing their innovative eco designs. Say hello to the Sustain show! Brighton Fashion Week have always showcased designers who recycle or use sustainable materials but this year they have dedicated a whole show to the fashion eco warriors.

This show wasn’t as full as last night’s Zeitgeist show but there was still a great vibe and a heightened atmosphere of anticipation of what was about to unfold. It was certainly not how I’d imagined. I suspected the show to be mostly of designers creating garments with unusual objects, instead there were a variety of collections from extravagant garb to very wearable clothes.

A few of my favourites from the night were Henrietta Ludgate, Anna Bykova, Dumpster Design and Rebecca Jayne Taylor. Rebecca Jayne Taylor, who helped design and make the Unity Dress at London 2012 Olympics, opened the night with her uber cool neon sports wear made from up-cycled Gore-Tex. The clothes were paired with extravagant headgear, skiing goggles and moon style boots. It was incredibly fun!

Anna Bykova went down the same route of showcasing padded winter sports wear with a white, orange and burgundy colour scheme, with a twinge of folk about the digitally printed fabric. She mixes advanced technology with ethical techniques from different countries to make her clothes sustainable and the results really speak for themselves.

Dumpster Design was 100% eco friendly. The BFW newspaper, paper towels, bubble wrap, denim and flyers from the show’s PR company The Cult and sponsors, Benefit and Electric Hairdressing were recycled, layered and shredded to create structured dresses using cone and ruffle techniques. Whilst the pieces here weren’t necessarily everyday wear, it was great to see what can be done with recycling and a bit of imagination.

The headliner of the evening was Henrietta Ludgate and she showcased her ‘Supernova’ collection. Her dresses were made to an extremely high quality finish. The body-con and skater style dresses had a futuristic edge with their shimmering fabrics, coils and dipped hems. Ludgate sources and manufactures all her designs in the British Isles, which I hope more UK designers will follow suit with. It’s a great way to support UK businesses and it will certainly help make sure skills and techniques in this country don’t become a dying trade. This unfortunately it seems that at the moment most trade gets taken to other countries that offer cheaper production. Cheap it may be, but so can the finish be.

The Sustain show was certainly a lot more serious than the previous night’s Zeitgeist, but it definitely got you thinking. I believe when people hear the words ‘ethical clothing’, they might think of materials such as hemp and hessian, but what’s so wonderful about BFW’s Sustain show is it has proven that sustainable clothes can be beautiful and wearable like any clothes found in the high street stores and boutiques, and I think that high street brands really need to change their game. But also, as buyers, we too should be consciously thinking about what we’re buying when we’re out shopping.

I really hope this is a show that will stay and I cannot wait to see how next year’s show will evolve.

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