To coincide with London Fashion Week Men’s, pioneering British menswear designer, Bethany Williams presented ‘Women of Change’ a film made in collaboration with moving image director Crack Stevens (Akinola Davies Jnr) on Saturday 6 January 2017 at 180 The Strand. The film screening was accompanied by a presentation with TIH models featuring pieces from her most recent collection.
The film is a poetic narrative inspired by the women of San Patrignano and London College of Fashion, UAL’s Making for Change programme – two pioneering rehabilitative programmes which work closely with vulnerable women and explores their different paths to rehabilitation. The film explores themes of ‘second chances’ which draws parallels between the second chance given to the discarded materials from which Bethany created the fabrics at San Patrignano, and the second chance given to the women involved in both of these innovative programmes.
The film features members of the community of San Patrignano, a rehabilitation programme in Rimini, Italy, for people with drug dependencies that teaches traditional Italian crafts and builds a sense of community. It also features the voices of the women at Making for Change – a manufacturing unit established by the Ministry of Justice and London College of Fashion, UAL in 2014 which aims to increase well-being and reduce reoffending rates amongst participants by equipping them with professional manufacturing skills and qualifications within a supportive environment, so that they might more easily gain employment and reintegrate into society on their release. The film celebrates the strength of these communities and provides an arresting look at how fashion can effect social and environmental change.
The film represents Bethany’s vision for a fashion industry that has the power to positively impact on people’s lives – and how each and every designer can impact the world through designing differently and not being afraid to break with convention and challenge the industry to be better. Through this film Bethany will present her Spring/Summer 2018 work, moving away from seasonal presentations and slowing the industry to create collections which are socially and environmentally conscious.
The “Women of Change” collection developed through Bethany’s involvement in an ongoing collaborative project between Fondazione Zegna and London College of Fashion, UAL. The project considers the human interactions associated with fashion manufacturing, and facilitates dialogue between students and the rehabilitative making communities of San Patrignano and Making for Change.
For her Spring/Summer 2018 collection, “Attenzione” electrical tape and wine bottle packaging were woven into practical and durable new textiles at San Patrignano and used to create outerwear, and the inspiring stories of the women she met were woven into a printed textile collage. Jersey pieces from the collection were also produced collaboratively with the women at Making for Change. The collection also funnels money back into the enterprises – 10% of the profit from each garment sold is donated to San Patrignano, and a further 10% is donated to LCF’s Making for Change to purchase new machinery.
As well as integrating socially conscious design into her collection Bethany is equally committed to sustainability and sourcing. The knitwear from ‘Women of Change’ has been created through taking recycled wool and denim from Kent and then hand knitting them through cottage industry on the Isle of Man where she grew up. Raw materials are sourced from Chris Carney Collections, a recycling and sorting facility where it goes on to be washed, cut and unraveled before the hand knitting process. Other denim elements within the collection are sourced alongside this and unpicked before being reconstituted into new garments.
As part of the film screening the presentation included TIH Models, a new modelling agency supporting youth in London affected by homelessness.
Photos by Amber Grace Dixon, courtesy of Bethany Williams