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University of Chester Students aim to make a difference with charity shop fashion collection

Students aim to make a difference with charity shop fashion collection

University of Chester Fashion Design and Photography students are working with charity shops and a leading UK gallery to give new life to old clothing and showcase the transformations.

The students have developed and documented the new, creative, stylish and sustainable collection, made with charity shop donations and used textiles, in partnership with Save the Children and SHARE (Supporting Homeless, Assisting Refugees Everywhere) Aid. The project has been co-devised in collaboration with the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool.

The work is currently on display at the Save the Children shop and ShareShop in Chester City Centre, with students’ fashion photography of the designs featured on the external walls of the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool. The digital screen video at the Gallery is also due to spotlight the journey of the project from inception to its stunning results.

The exhibitions are part of LOOK Photo Biennial 2022: Climate festival which is taking place across venues in the North West and is supported by The Philip Barker Centre for Creative Learning.

The students have designed a range of men’s and womenswear clothing as well as gender-neutral pieces. They also took part in photo shoots at the SHARE Aid depot in Mold and the Save the Children Chester shop to show where the clothing originally came from.

The Fashion Design students who offered their skills to create the Make, Mend and Sustain collection are: Louise Morgan; Rebecca Porter; Kerrigan Collins, Katriona Heritage; Saviour Jaffier; Natasha Rowland; Jessica Rimmer; Sophie Pomfrey; Diane Maccabe and Annie Dinis. The Photography students who captured the striking images are: Simon Hyde; Emily Johnson; Annabel Carter and Charlie Harris.

Fashion Design student Louise Morgan described her experience working on the project:

“Having the opportunity to work with Open Eye, SHARE Aid and Save the Children was amazing. As well as helping to promote sustainability, it was incredible to see the work that the charities are doing for local communities. I think my favourite piece I made for this was the corset top and the landfill skirt. The whole experience was fantastic, especially working with everyone involved.”

Fellow Fashion Design student Rebecca Porter added:

“Sustainability is really important to me and I believe so much more can be done to improve sustainability in the fashion industry – this project being a great example of that. With influencer culture being so big at the moment, people are buying new clothes much more than they used to which usually just end up in landfill. This project was all about encouraging people to buy less and make use of what they already have. Upcycling is easy for everyone to do and it’s a small part we can play, to help tackle the climate crisis.”

Delphine Wilson, Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Fashion Design and Dr Cian Quayle, Associate Professor and Programme Leader for BA (Hons) Photography coordinated and guided the students’ work with the support of Visiting Lecturers: Jen John in Fashion and AJ Wilkinson in Photography.

Delphine said: “We’re thrilled to be part of this exciting collaboration highlighting how creativity and transformation can give new life and worth to second-hand clothes and offer more sustainable ways of living.

“The students have really enjoyed sharing their skills and have benefitted immensely from working with each other and all the partners, learning more about sustainability, the work of the charities, Open Eye and the fashion and photography industries.”

Cian added: “We have worked with the Open Eye Gallery for many years and we didn’t hesitate to take part when they brought this project to us in conjunction with their work with Slum Studio in Ghana, and as part of the Look Photography Biennial: Climate festival.

“We hope to curate another exhibition of this work later in the year at CASC (Contemporary Art Space Chester) or the University’s Kingsway site to further showcase the hard work of the students and the Make, Mend and Sustain message.”

He added a thankyou to those who had made the project possible including: the Open Eye Gallery’s Sarah Fisher; Núria Rovira Terrades; Diane Hamilton; the teams at ShareShop and Save the Children, and University colleagues Paula Johnson; Tabitha Jussa and Tom Hignett. 

Work from the Make, Mend and Sustain collection is on display at Save the Children, 9 Grosvenor St, Chester, CH1 2DD and ShareShop, 50 Northgate St, Chester, CH1 2HA, until August 5.

The two large images currently featured on the external walls of the Open Eye Gallery in Liverpool, one of the longest established galleries for contemporary photography in the UK, are by students Simon Hyde and Charlie Harris. For further information about the exhibitions, please visit: https://openeye.org.uk/

The work is also being shared on Instagram @fashionatchester.

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