Sustainable fashion designer Bethany Williams believes that social and environmental issues go hand-in-hand.
The London-based menswear designer, who is known for working with marginalised parts of society to bring about positive change and social enterprise, teamed up with two women’s rehabilitation initiatives in Italy and England to create her latest collection, Women of Change.
The Spring/Summer 2018 menswear collection, Women of Change, features hand-woven textiles made from recycled packaging materials and organic threads.
Bethany Williams worked with female offenders in an England prison on the jersey pieces as part of the Making for Change program, a social enterprise set up jointly by London College of Fashion, University of the Arts London and the Ministry of Justice, providing skill and meaningful employment for serving and recently released offenders to help reintegrate them into society.
The designer also headed to Rimini in Italy where she teamed up with San Patrignano – an education and rehabilitation programme for people with drug and alcohol dependency that teaches traditional Italian craft and fosters a sense of community. There she created bespoke hand-woven textiles for outwear from the recycled packaging materials found within the San Patrignano workshops.
Each piece from the Women of Change collection was created from 100% organic or recycled materials, and handmade in the UK and Italy.
For the lookbook and campaign shoot, Bethany Williams collaborated with TIH Models, a new modelling agency supporting youth in London affected by homelessness, casting Kris McAllister and Mustapha, both homeless and unemployed in London.
Twenty percent of sales from the Women of Change will go towards supporting both the women’s rehabilitation projects that Bethany Williams worked with on the collection.
In an interview with i-D, Bethany Williams said: “Fashion is a global force with incredible influence – if we each use this influence for the greater good, we have a huge capacity for growth and change. We also have to safeguard our industry for the future.
“I want my work to make a difference and inspire new ways of working in fashion. I initially didn’t want to go into fashion – I hated the idea of the wasteful aspects of the industry – but by working within the system and challenging the status quo I can question what fashion is and can be.”
Bethany Williams’ previous collection, Breadline, sought to highlight and help find solutions to the hidden hunger in the UK, specifically working alongside the Vauxhall Food Bank and Tesco to achieve this. The collection was made from waste materials, recycled cardboard, and Tesco-branded organic prints, all donated by Tesco.