Heather Portbury: Kering Award Finalist

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Thinking about the aftercare of a garment is crucial to a holistic understanding of what sustainability in fashion involves. Here we hear more about Heather Portbury’s project which focuses on the care of silk.

Can you briefly tell us what is your project about?
HP: My project is focused on reducing the environmental impact of aftercare. With aftercare accounting for a significant amount of the energy used in a product’s lifecycle, my research focuses on the Silk fibre – one of Stella McCartney’s key materials. I hope it will better inform the designer, the consumer and the industry about the environmental implications of caring for Silk.

What motivated you to engage in the sustainability surrounding fashion?
HP: My interest in sustainability stemmed from my study exchange in Amsterdam. I learnt from the Dutch culture some simple ways in which I could change my day-to-day activities to reduce my carbon footprint. After completing my exchange, I then wanted to see how I could apply this to my approach to conducting business in fashion.

What does sustainability in fashion mean to you and how have your personal experiences impacted your work?
HP: Sustainability in fashion means to me making a conscious effort to improve business practices to benefit both the planet and people. I think there is a need for the term sustainability to be used within the right context in our industry and I am of the view that adopting a “sustainable” approach to fashion does make business sense. My research for the Kering project has taught me the importance of considering the holistic environmental impact of any fashion garment, from cradle to grave.