Design Museum exhibition for alumna Bethany Williams

Award-winning fashion designer Bethany Williams is the subject of an exhibition at London’s Design Museum until 4 September.

The  exhibition – entitled Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems – features fashion made from diverse recycled and eco-friendly sources, including book waste, cactus leather, reclaimed fabrics and pieces made from waste packaging tape.

Bethany, who graduated from a course on the fine art programme in 2012, focuses on bringing about social change via collaborations with different charities each season, while addressing broader fashion industry problems ranging from agricultural practices to communication. You can hear Bethany talking about her work using recycled sustainable textiles on YouTube.

In May 2021, Bethany won a £200,000 award for her pioneering work from the British Fashion Council/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund. Speaking after that win, she said: “As designers, we are problem-solvers. We want to provide an alternative system for fashion production, as we believe fashion’s reflection upon the world can create positive change.”

Dr Jules Findley, principal lecturer in the University of Brighton’s School of Art and Media, said: “At the University of Brighton we teach sustainability and responsible thinking on all our design courses where change is accelerating due to climate change. Circular loops and recycling are taught so that students are aware of the important issues around fashion and textiles.

“Working with communities and making processes sustainable is as important as the actual design of the garment or the material innovation itself. It is thinking around the whole manufacturing processes, so that students can visualise the potential for recycling as part of their design and communication thinking and planning. Many of our recent graduates and alumni are actively working with sustainable companies and brands, which is a great result.”

One recent University of Brighton alumna playing a role in creating innovative sustainable fashion is 2020 BA(Hons) 3D Design and Craft  graduate Imogen Gray, who won the New Designer of the Year Award plus Environmental Design Award from Creative Conscience and the Business Design Centre for her creation of a method to take leather scraps that previously would have been consigned to landfill, and repurpose them into a new material which improves on the natural limitations of leather through being able to be cast in moulds.

Elsewhere, 2020 Fashion Design with Business Studies BA (Hons) graduate Sarah-Louise Koessler is currently developing new lines of handbags, accessories and a ready-to-wear collection using fabric remnants to reduce waste, while 2021 Fashion Communication with Business Studies graduate Annabelle Gray took the insights from her final year project on sustainable packaging into her current job working at the British outdoor clothing label MUSTO.

University of Brighton is also offering a PhD Studentship in the School of Art and Media to carry out research into Sustainability in Fashion or Textiles. Deadline for applications is 14 March.

Find out more about our Fine Art courses at Brighton

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