Fashion students team up with Burberry to tackle industry waste

University of Brighton students are tackling fashion industry waste by making clothes from surplus fabric supplied to them by global fashion house Burberry.

For the second year running, Burbury has donated surplus fabric to students at selected Universities including those studying Fashion Design with Business Studies at UoB.

Established in 2020 in partnership with the British Fashion Council, the ReBurberry Fabric initiative reduces waste, while promoting circular economy principles alongside creativity. It also provides real practical help to hard-up students by providing them with free high-quality fabric to upcycle. This plays into key aspects of teaching around sustainability on the Fashion and Textiles courses at the University of Brighton.

Student Georgia Bate said of the project: “This initiative allows students like me to work with fabrics they wouldn’t have had access to before. As new designers, we want to be working with as many different types of fabrics as possible in our experiments and in the trialling stages. Along with being very wasteful, this process can be really limited and hard to do when keeping to a budget.

Leila Eskandary-Miles, who also took part in the initiative said: “Having access to this fabric allowed me to experiment and be more ambitious with my ideas and execution, which in turn created a final outcome I was extremely proud of. This initiative has inspired me to try and design with less waste, as well as to try and use deadstock fabrics and other pre-existing materials more.

“This initiative was an opportunity to experiment and be creative without the burden of cost associated with using high-quality materials” said Luca McCarry: “Burberry’s donation allowed me to experiment without bounds. For an aspiring designer, it’s reassuring to know that luxury fashion brands are actively looking to support young creatives in the industry”.

University of Brighton has led the way in highlighting and tackling shameful levels of waste in the global fashion industry, through both research and the work of its students and graduates. The global fashion industry is among the largest polluters in the world, with UN data showing fashion contributing 10% of global greenhouse emissions due to its long supply chains, energy intensive production and wastefulness.

A current show at London’s Design Museum (until 4 September) is highlighting the award-winning social change fashion work of University of Brighton graduate Bethany Williams, who creates pieces made from diverse recycled and eco-friendly sources, including book waste, cactus leather, reclaimed fabrics and pieces made from waste packaging tape.

2020 BA(Hons) 3D Design and Craft graduate Imogen Gray won the New Designer of the Year Award plus Environmental Design Award from Creative Conscience and the Business Design Centre for inventing a method to take leather scraps that previously would have been consigned to landfill, and repurposing them into a new material which improves on the natural limitations of leather thanks to its ability to be cast in moulds.

2020 BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Business Studies graduate Sarah-Louise Koessler, meanwhile, is developing new lines of handbags, accessories and a ready-to-wear collection using fabric remnants to reduce waste. And 2020 Fashion Communication with Business Studies degree graduate Vanessa Menrad has created the YVERT digital channel to bring together people in the fashion industry with an interest in sustainability, to help them connect, create and drive change.

“At the University of Brighton we teach sustainability and responsible thinking on all our design courses, particularly in Fashion, Textiles and 3D Design Crafts, where change is accelerating due to climate change. “Principal Lecturer in Fashion and Textiles Dr Jules Findley, said:Circular loops and recycling are taught so that students are aware of the important issues around fashion and textiles.“

Listen to award-winning University of Brighton graduate Bethany Williams talking about her work using recycled sustainable textiles on YouTube.



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