Just Fashion at the Hay Festival

photoImagine the World.

Was the tagline for this year’s Hay Festival and last week we were lucky enough to spend the week in Hay taking part in the Just Fashion Workshop, a week long event organised by the Environmental Justice Foundation, with support from Jessica Mor of 3rd Rock and CSM’s Alis Smith.

Nine undergraduates from across the UK took part and each created an outfit or garment which incorporated an aspect of sustainability or expressed what sustainability might mean to them.

Imagine the World.  Is also a fitting starting point for students approaching sustainability in their work:

What sort of world do they want to live in? What are the challenges that they face? What do they want to overcome?  And how do they address these dreams and challenges through their work as designers?

We each have a different starting point from which we approach sustainability and there are many aspects to sustainability when it comes to fashion. This could be seen in the work that the students produced and in the varying knowledge they had about different issues. For us the workshop was an opportunity to expand concepts of sustainability to include not only materials and ethical issues but also to introduce wider implications such as how people feel and behave, how the wearer interacts with a garment, how the owner treats their items and to encourage students to think about the larger systems that fashion touches on and is part of.

“It has been incredible to work with a collective of students who are in the beginnings of discovering who they are as designers and are open to using sustainability thinking as a starting point for innovation as oppose to a limitation. It was a fantastic opportunity to learn from each other whilst exploring a personal  approach to sustainability” was how CSF’s Renee put it.

Starting on a journey of exploration is an exciting place to be and as students there is the opportunity to play, investigate and discover what aspect of thinking sustainably excites them and where these might lead. There is no catch-all solution to the challenges we face as an industry  but discovering where you can influence and make a small difference is part of the challenge.

The week concluded with a fashion shoot at Cabalva House – see the photos here – and a discussion between Katharine Hamnett and Dilys, who stressed the importance of education in making a change, as the bridge between industry and the future.