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Brighton fashion students team up with Burberry to tackle fashion 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.

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.

Burberry has now released its second donation of surplus fabric to fashion students at University of Brighton – plus other selected universities and fashion schools around the UK – following 12,000 metres of fabric donated in 2020. Here is how three students in their first year studying BA (Hons) Fashion Design with Business Studiesat University of Brighton have gained from the project.

Georgia Bate (pictured at top) said: “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, 1st Year B.A. (Hons) Fashion Design with Business Studies student at the University of Brighton - COURTESY OF BURBERRY-2

Leila Eskandary-Miles (pictured above) 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.

For fellow University of Brighton student Luca McCarry (pictured below), “this initiative was an opportunity to experiment and be creative without the burden of cost associated with using high-quality materials. 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”.

Luca McCarry, 1st Year B.A. (Hons) Fashion Design with Business Studies student at the University of Brighton - COURTESY OF BURBERRY-2

Nicole Lovett, Responsibility Programme Director at Burberry, said: “We are committed to supporting the next generation of exciting creatives while ensuring we all do what we can to protect the environment. We’re proud to be working with the British Fashion Council once more to help emerging diverse talent achieve their ambitions, while reinforcing the importance of sustainable practices and circularity. By equipping students with these materials and tools to help their creativity thrive, we can all create a better future for our industry.

University of Brighton has led the way in highlighting and tackling shameful levels of waste in the global fashion industry, through both ongoing 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 (pictured below) 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.

University of Brighton graduate Imogen Gray with her repurposed form of leather

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 BA (Hons) Fashion Communication with Business Studies 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.

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, particularly in Fashion, Textiles and 3D Design Crafts, 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.“

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