The Fashion District Festival is making a highly anticipated return for its second iteration at Spitalfields from 11-16 July 2023.
Taking over the vibrant east London destination, the six-day festival will be a celebration of fashion, sustainability, innovation, and community. Featuring over 40 events, including pop-ups, swap shops, styling masterclasses, upcycling workshops, and interactive experiences, visitors will have the chance to explore, learn, create, and network with leading conscious brands and digital fashion businesses.
This year’s festival covers four themes — WATCH, SHOP, MAKE, and GROW.
The Fashion District Festival will kick off on Tuesday 11 July. As part of the WATCH programme, the launch show, curated by Lee Lapthorne from On|Off and AGRO Studio, will introduce some of London’s most promising emerging designers, combining physical and digital installations, to create a truly unforgettable experience. The week will see further digital showcases and styling events from charity partner Give Your Best.
The SHOP series will feature a collaborative retail pop-up located in a brand-new building at Number 1 Lamb St in Spitalfields – the first event to take place in the contemporary building designed by Foster + Partners. Featuring emerging and planet-positive designers and start-ups, the brands on show specialise in preloved, swapped, rented, and upcycled fashion, such as The Alterist, Loanhood, The Cirkel, Verte London, Circular Threads and The Seam.
The MAKE space offers a diverse program of interactive events and workshops for all ages, encouraging participants to explore sustainability and innovation in fashion via the three Rs: Repair, Reuse, and Recycle.
MAKE talks and workshops:
The GROW programme is dedicated to supporting fashion start-ups and SMEs through a series of roundtables, talks, and workshops that delve into the ideas and innovations driving change within the industry, including themes such as the circular economy, regenerative materials, digital fashion, design for the metaverse, early-stage investment and more.
GROW talks and workshops:
Jason Dervin, General Estate Manager at The Spitalfields Estate, says, “We are proud to host the ever-inspiring Fashion District Festival and donate four spaces for the events in our newly created units and basement studio space. Celebrating and supporting multiple sustainable start-ups, emerging talent and brands in this dynamic way sits perfectly alongside our existing retail and F&B operators, and we hope to see everyone at the Festival in Spitalfields this July.”Bookings are now open! Don’t miss your chance to secure a spot at each of the incredible events – click here to see the lineup so far. Stay tuned for more event announcements and exciting speakers coming soon!
Bookings are now open! Don’t miss your chance to secure a spot at each of the incredible events – click the button below to see the lineup so far.
Follow our socials to stay tuned for more event announcements and exciting speakers coming soon!
We’re excited to announce that Fashion District has been nominated for not one, but two Small Business Charter Excellence Awards!
We’re thrilled to have been shortlisted for both ‘Outstanding Support for Small Business’ for our Fashion District Festival and ‘Outstanding Stakeholder Engagement’ for our Covid Recovery of SMEs initiative.
The Small Business Charter Excellence Awards recognise the most innovative and impactful initiatives that have supported small business growth during 2021/2022. We’re proud to have been recognised for our efforts to nurture start-ups and enhance SME growth through dedicated, collaborative, and impactful activities.
The Fashion District Festival, a week-long event celebrating London’s vibrant and innovative fashion industry, provided a fantastic platform for small businesses to connect, exchange knowledge, and collaborate. The festival, which took place in September 2021, featured a range of activities, including workshops, talks, and live pitching, as well as networking opportunities for entrepreneurs and professionals in the fashion industry. The festival also showcased the incredible sustainable talent and creativity that London has to offer, and helped to raise the profile of many businesses in the Fashion District community.
Our Covid Recovery of SMEs initiative at The Lab E20 was another key focus for us, as we recognised the significant challenges faced by small businesses after the pandemic. We worked closely with 253 businesses and organisations to offer opportunities for income generation, brand exposure, innovation support, and routes to investment. Additionally, our initiative enlivened the expansive Stratford-based space with extensive community activity, creating a hub for collaboration and connection.
The winners for each of the three categories in the Small Business Charter Excellence Awards will be decided by a panel of judges, comprising business school leaders, SME business leaders, and other SME experts. The results will be announced at the Small Business Charter Summer Reception on 22 June at the House of Lords.
We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Small Business Charter for nominating us for these prestigious awards, as well as to our valued community and partners who have continuously supported us. As a business hub dedicated to supporting the growth and success of the fashion industry in East London, we’re committed to continuing our work with small businesses and entrepreneurs in the area.
For more information on our initiatives and how we support small businesses, head to our What We Do page or follow our socials to receive the latest updates:
It was inspiring to see so many of you at Poplar Works’ on Thursday 2nd March for our 3rd birthday celebrations!
As part of the festivities, the wonderful community of small businesses showcased their work during open studios and offered events for local residents to participate in. The programme for the day was truly a celebration of all the people that make Poplar Works a thriving hub of sustainability, innovation and social enterprise.
Once disused garages, Poplar Works now offers over 40 affordable studio spaces for start-ups and SMEs and is home to a diverse range of businesses, from sustainable fashion start-ups to not-for-profit organisations. Blossom Young, Head of Operations at Poplar HARCA, guided groups throughout the space and gave them a glimpse into the lives of the business community that reside here, including Birdsong, More Life Home, Post Carbon Lab and more.
Engaging with the local community has been integral to Poplar Works’ success, and there’s no better evidence of this success than the many families and local residents that joined in the celebrations at craft workshops throughout the afternoon. The Reclaimery taught techniques to customise your clothes using fabric paint, community member Asma Begum provided family-friendly crafting sessions in The Works Café, whilst Wax Atelier demonstrated the art of candle dipping.
The brilliant Making for Change team opened up their production hub to host a weaving workshop that repurposed textile waste to create one-of-a-kind keychains. Both the workshop and guided tours enabled visitors to see behind the scenes at Making for Change – a social enterprise that offers a production training programme and works with designers, industry, and early-stage businesses to produce orders using sustainable and ethical practices.
We rounded off the day with a gathering in The Works Café for the members and partners that have been part of Poplar Works’ journey over the last three years. Whilst sharing a celebratory drink and getting stuck into nibbles, courtesy of The Works team, we heard from Blossom Young – Head of Operations at Poplar HARCA, Claire Swift – Director of Social Responsibility at London College of Fashion, Rachel Arnold – Creative Director at Renew East London (RenewEL), and Helen Lax – Director at Fashion District.
Each of the speakers acknowledged how incredible it has been to see Poplar Works develop into a nurturing and supportive ecosystem of businesses that places people and planet at the centre of everything that they do. There was a sense of excitement surrounding the future of Poplar Works and its potential to continue forging valuable connections and fostering innovation over the years to come.
Keen to settle into a studio at Poplar Works? You can check availability and apply here.
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Designed to spark collective action and provide attendees with the tools to embed circularity in their businesses, the event focused on three key approaches to eliminating waste textiles: Repair, Resale and Redistribution. Read on to find out what went down at this very special evening.
INTRODUCING TEXTILES 2030
Kicking off the event with a fantastic keynote speech was Sarah Robins, Associate Sector Specialist at WRAP UK – a climate action NGO working around the globe to tackle the causes of the climate crisis arising from the fashion industry.
Since launching in April 2021, Sarah has been working extensively on WRAP’s Textiles 2030 initiative, a UK textile sector collaboration making rapid, science-based progress on circularity and climate action. The initiative focuses on how brands can redesign products, reuse them and recycle them to reduce environmental impact and use resources more efficiently.
In the past two years, the initiative has received commitment from 120 signatories from across the textiles supply chain, including 62% of the UK’s market share of brands and retailers and the UK’s biggest charities.
For every industry to move towards a circular economy, Sarah broke down three key targets to make it more manageable for businesses:
“I want to highlight how critical circular business models are,” Sarah told the audience. “We need to encourage both businesses and citizens to extend the life of the clothing they already own and to use circular business models because we can’t make the changes needed by focusing on one area. It needs to be a holistic, whole lifecycle approach.”
To find out more information about Textiles 2030 and to access WRAP’s reports and guides, please head to their website.
THE SEAM: CULTIVATING CARE CULTURE
Layla Sargent, Founder and CEO, and Bronwyn Seier, Head of Brand at The Seam – a game-changing repair and alterations app – then took to the floor to present a case study of her business and how they operate using a circular business model. Frustrated with the tailoring industry and the lack of messaging around repairs, Layla felt compelled to help make a difference.
“In a nutshell, The Seam’s approach to circularity isn’t about creating new models for manufacturing,” Layla said. “It’s not to create new fabrics, it’s simply to help us as a community care better for the garments we already own. Since the 1970s, textile waste has increased by 800%, and in the UK alone, 30 million items of clothing are sent to landfill every week. The Seam’s main mission is to reduce the number of garments that end up in landfill by helping people to extend the lifecycle of their garments.”
When it comes to circularity, here are The Seam’s key takeaways for the future of their business:
REPAIR, RESALE, REDISTRIBUTION
The remainder of the evening was spent partaking in roundtable discussions chaired by sixteen local business founders and entrepreneurs. The tables were categorised under the themes of repair, resale, or redistribution and attendees had the choice of sitting at the table they felt most drawn to. The group discussions were designed for attendees to brainstorm what actions could be taken by Waltham Forest to encourage businesses to repair and resell garments/products and redistribute textile waste. Afterwards, groups fed back their thoughts to the rest of the room.
The first group, chaired by Layla Sargent, Founder of The Seam, discussed providing pricing guidelines for repair services, as sometimes independent services find it difficult to price. They suggested that having a guideline as a baseline could give confidence to pricing decisions.
The second group, chaired by Tessa Solomons, a reuse and repair consultant, suggested that retailers form a dialogue with designers and manufacturers to understand whether their products can be repaired in the future, allowing them to make informed purchasing decisions and to better educate their customers.
On the children’s resale table, Louise Weiss, Co-Founder of dotte, discussed visibility, accessibility and attitudes towards second-hand clothing. They also felt the messaging behind buying second-hand garments needs to be inclusive and considerate of the motivation behind these purchases, as different connotations of ‘second-hand’ come with different budget availability.
On the second resale table, Jessica Brunt from Verte London said that her group felt that destigmatising second-hand shopping was important, and they suggested working with the London Borough of Waltham Forest to enable vacant retail spaces on high street to be used for sustainable businesses.
Piarvé Wetshi, Co-Founder of Last Yarn and Colèchi, said that there needs to be more visibility on the process of what happens to clothes when we recycle through charity shops and highlight the process of what happens to clothes that don’t sell. The group felt that some trust has been lost for charity shops with prices increasing and charity shops cherry-picking products to sell on other platforms at market rate.
Kaela, Founder of FibreLab, said that her group focused on pre-consumer textile waste. They proposed incentivising businesses to redistribute pre-consumer textile waste with initiatives like a discount on business rates. They also highlighted that encouraging businesses to sort at source, i.e. separating by fibre composition, and having exchange points for textile waste could increase the potential to redistribute and reuse fabric massively.
The last table, chaired by Sol Escobar, Founder of Give Your Best, and the Forest Recycling Project team, discussed the importance of raising awareness of sustainable initiatives with millennial and Gen-Z audiences. Sol stressed the importance of inclusion when discussing circularity, as five-and-a-half million people in the UK are living in clothing poverty and are unable to access second-hand selling platforms or be part of the fashion conversation.
BUILDING CONNECTIONS AND CIRCULAR SYSTEMS
Afterwards, guests carried on their conversations, networked, and grabbed a slice of pizza and a drink from the bar.
Huge thank you to our guest speakers, Sarah Robins and Layla Sargent, as well as our fantastic table hosts:
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Last week we held our first in-person Fashion Circle event in collaboration with The Trampery. Designed to enable fashion businesses to learn and develop their network, Fashion Circle: Impactful Storytelling brought together industry experts, founders and fashion professionals at London’s brand-new fashion campus – The Trampery Fish Island Village.
The theme for the evening focused on greenwashing and how to communicate sustainability claims without misleading consumers, which has been a hot topic since the launch of the Green Claims Code in September 2021. In order to provide our community with a well-rounded and informative understanding of the theme, we brought together an incredible line-up of speakers with expertise in impact policy, ESG communications, corporate responsibility and conscious advertising.
CEO and Co-Founder of Compare Ethics, Abbie Morris, kicked off the evening with an overview of the Green Claims Code, it’s six key principles, and guidance on how to meet these principles using data as evidence. Abbie’s key tips included:
Next up the audience heard from Valentina Okolo, Environmental Manager at PANGAIA, who talked through the company’s sustainable and ethical goals as outlined in their Earth Positive Philosophy. From water health to elevating human potential, Valentina provided a deep-dive into the practices, partnerships and ambitions that makes PANGAIA an exemplar of good practice, which can be explored further in their annual Impact Report.
During the evening, a member of the audience posed the question of how PANGAIA has been able to implement such a thorough impact strategy. Valentina attributed this to the development of a dedicated impact team, who could ensure that the UN’s SDGs remained central to their purpose and growth, and to contribute towards accurately communicating their current practices and goals going forward.
George Harding-Rolls, Campaign Manager at Changing Markets Foundation, reiterated the importance of accuracy and transparency to avoid greenwashing, since falsifying or overstating green credentials stunts progress where it is most needed. Phrases such as ‘carbon neutral’, ‘better for the planet’ and ‘conscious’ were highlighted as examples of statements that were ambiguous and lacked clarity, which draws directly from one of the six principles to avoid greenwashing, as outlined in the Green Claims Code.
The audience were tasked with listing their sustainable practices and ambitions, taking into consideration the tips and advice provided by our expert speakers. This sparked further conversation about the challenges of marketing, how to juggle multiple roles as a founder, and the potential to collectively create positive change in the future.
Through developing clear communications with consumers and following the guidance of campaigns, such as the Green Claims Code, we can all contribute towards building more trust in sustainability claims. In the meantime, as consumers, we can approach sustainability claims with a critical eye and check whether brands and businesses are supporting their claims with reliable evidence.
Interested in joining a thriving fashion community? Discover The Trampery Fish Island Village – London’s newest campus for fashion, innovation and sustainability. Check out the co-working, studios, event space and manufacturing facilities open now. Learn more here.
Photographer: Christian Sinibaldi
If you missed this event, why not follow our social channels to keep up-to-date on future events and opportunities:
With spring on the horizon, the team at Fashion District can’t wait for longer, lighter days and our upcoming event: Becoming Circular: Revaluing Waste, taking place on March 1st, 18:00 – 20:30, at Hackney Brewery & High Hill Taproom.
Presented in collaboration with the Green Business Network, we’re bringing you a roundtable event like no other. Designed to spark collective action and provide you with the tools to embed circularity in your business, the event will focus on three key approaches to eliminating waste textiles: repair, resale and redistribution.
Kicking off with a keynote speech from Sarah Robins, Associate Sector Specialist – Textiles at WRAP UK, afterwards Layla Sargent, Founder of The Seam, will take to the floor to deliver a case study presentation focusing on how repair and alterations can contribute to eliminating waste textiles.
Following Layla’s case study, you’ll then have the chance to share your thoughts in roundtable discussions chaired by over ten carefully curated table hosts. With a selection of tables each categorised under the themes of repair, resale, or redistribution, you’ll have the choice of seating yourself at the theme that you’re most drawn to. Our table hosts will then get the roundtable discussion going and feedback key takeaways to the room.
To round off the evening, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals over a drink or two. Following the event, attendees will also receive an exclusive document of key takeaways from the night.
MEET OUR SPEAKERS + TABLE HOSTS
Sarah Robins – Associate Sector Specialist – Textiles, WRAP UK
For the past eight years, Sarah has run multiple circular fashion businesses and currently serves as Associate Sector Specialist at WRAP, working on the award-winning voluntary agreement Textiles 2030, which aims to accelerate the UK textile sector on circularity and climate action. In her role, Sarah works on the circular business models workstreams, citizen behaviour change and supporting businesses across the agreement.
Layla Sargent – Founder + CEO, The Seam
Founded in 2019, The Seam brings accessible, on-demand tailoring services to Londoners’ doorsteps while harnessing the skills of talented Makers in every neighbourhood. Recognised as a leading clothing care and repair company, The Seam services customers across the UK and partners with some of the world’s largest retailers and brands.
Tessa Solomons – Craftsperson
Specialising in hand embroidery and visible mending, Tessa Solomons is challenging the culture of overproduction and throw-away trends in the fashion industry by taking private commissions, consulting brands, and teaching workshops. Driven by the desire to make repairs visible, Tessa is on a mission to encourage brands to incorporate repair and reuse into their design process and make it accessible and affordable to all citizens.
Louise Weiss – Co-Founder, dotte
Louise is the Co-Founder of dotte, the UK’s largest and fastest-growing peer-to-peer marketplace for children’s fashion. dotte is on a mission to build a community of families who want to share their kids’ wardrobes to help better the planet. A simple one-stop-shop where parents can buy, sell, donate and recycle outgrown children’s clothing, dotte provides a full circle remedy to the fastest area of fashion.
Sia Grenkova – Sustainability Manager, Oxwash
Sia is responsible for setting and developing the sustainability strategy and circular practices at Oxwash – a B Corp Certified and carbon-neutral wet cleaning service. An alumnus of The Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership’s course in Business Sustainability, Sia has previously worked as a consultant for numerous tech startups and large FMCG companies, where she has helped them on their sustainability journeys.
Jessica Brunt – Founder, Verte
With over seven years of experience in marketing and sales, Jess founded her business Verte in 2019 to encourage a more sustainable approach to consumption and shopping. Dedicated to building Verte’s community, Jess has plans to develop her business into a permanent swapping and second-hand space and build an app to encourage a wider variety of items to be swapped. By focusing on swapping versus buying new, Jess hopes to help the world move towards a more circular shopping economy.
Kaela Katz – Founder + CEO, FibreLab
FibreLab is an award-winning textile recycling start-up based in east London. They utilise a custom-built mechanical shredding machine to turn post-industrial textile waste, including off-cuts from garment manufacturing and damaged linens from the hospitality sector, into valuable recycled fibre. FibreLab’s approach to the circular economy is hyper-local, ensuring the entire waste collection, sorting and remanufacturing process takes place entirely within the U.K.
Sophie Rochester – Founder, Yodomo
Sophie Rochester is an advocate of the power of making and champions Yodomo’s mission to grow participation in making to increase the reuse of materials, helping us all to shift more readily to a circular economy. In 2022, Sophie launched the Yodomo Circular Hub in Hackney, which has over 1,000 active ‘creative reuse members’ and has diverted nearly three tonnes of materials from landfill and incineration.
Sol Escobar – Founder + Director, Give Your Best
Sol Escobar is the Founder and Director of Give Your Best, an award-winning tech-for-good non-profit offering the first platform where people and brands can donate clothing online so that refugee women and children can shop for free with the choice and dignity they deserve. Sol is on a mission to tackle clothing poverty while improving circularity in the fashion industry and empowering people affected by displacement.
Piarvé Wetshi – Co-Founder, Last Yarn + Colèchi
An advocate for reducing textile waste in the fashion industry, Piarvé co-runs the fashion collective and agency, Colèchi, and the fabric resale platform Last Yarn. Her background is in digital marketing across interior design and events. Piarvé also works with local groups and cultural venues to bridge the gap between fashion, making and education.
Mika Sembongi – Accessory Designer + Mending Expert
Born in Japan, Mika brings Manga influences to her hand printed designs and is highly skilled in the traditional mending technique, sashiko. Mika co-runs The Monday Mending Club, a monthly social sewing night at Big Penny Social, and holds monthly family sewing mornings at Leyton Green Studios, which aim to encourage families to enjoy mending clothing together as a weekend activity.
Judith Agwada – Founder, Maison Archives London
Judith Agwada curates regular vintage drops inspired by the seventies era for her online boutique, Maison Archives London. Maison Archives started out solely as a vintage platform, but has recently expanded to include hand crafted, vintage inspired pieces. Judith also sells vintage and pre-loved pieces at markets and pop-ups in east London – all in addition to her day job, working as a doctor at Whipps Cross hospital!
Samson Soboye – Founder, Soboye
Samson is the founder of Soboye, an African fashion and homewares brand, which offers both ready-to-wear collections and a bespoke design service that serves many celebrity clients, including Michaela Coel, Nile Rogers and John Boyega. Samson has a longstanding relationship with two main factories in Waltham Forest, providing him with expert knowledge on the measures they’re taking (and challenges they’re facing) to eliminate fabric waste in the industry.
Nicola Joseph – Founder, Uniform Choice
Nicola Joseph is an NHS health visitor who also runs pop-ups selling surplus school uniform stock that would otherwise be destined for landfill. Nicola works together with high street brands to sell these unsold uniforms (that are still packaged and in perfect condition) at affordable prices. She sells regularly at Host in Leyton and via ebay.
Gosia Rokicka – Retail + Operations Manager, Forest Recycling Project
Gosia is responsible for everything retail-related at Forest Recycling Project, a registered charity and social enterprise that sells reclaimed paint, fabric and wood and works with volunteers on structured upskilling and upcycling projects.
Anita Earp – Fabric Retail Co-ordinator, Forest Recycling Project
Anita’s role encompasses the reclamation of fabrics from companies or individuals that are looking for an environmentally sound method of fabric disposal. Fabrics are either sold or used in FRP workshops. Anita has an environmental degree and has been a lifelong creator of textile items.
ABOUT THE GREEN BUSINESS NETWORK
The Green Business Network is for businesses from all sectors that are keen to learn how they can improve their environmental performance and cut their business costs, as well as those with an interest or who work in the low carbon or environmental sector. Members include cafes/bars, brewers, fashion designers, renewable energy installers, retailers and freelancers.
In previous events, businesses have heard about the low-carbon transport options for the borough’s businesses (including zero carbon delivery), learnt about finance options for going green and heard from speakers including ReLondon, TSB Bank, Enjoy Waltham Forest and many more.
Keep up-to-date with news and opportunities to support your business by following us on our social channels, or why not sign up to our much-loved monthly newsletter?
Are you a business owner? Want to know more about the impact policy coming into play this year and how this might affect your company?
Join us at our first event of 2023: Fashion Circle – an event series presented by Fashion District and The Trampery for fashion businesses to learn and develop their network. Taking place from 18:00 – 20:30 on Wednesday 22nd Feb at The Trampery Fish Island Village, London’s brand new fashion campus, come and take part in this informative and interactive event that will outline:
This won’t be your average panel talk. Instead, we’ll be offering opportunities for you to brainstorm and workshop with a supportive community of like-minded individuals. You’ll come away from the first Fashion Circle of 2023 with tangible actions for your business, and more peers in the sustainable fashion space to convene and collaborate with in the future.
Welcome – Fashion District + The Trampery
Impact Policy in 2023 + Beyond – Abbie Morris, CEO and Co-Founder at Compare Ethics
Case Study: Impact at PANGAIA – Valentina Okolo, Environmental Manager at PANGAIA
Impact Confessions – Provocations + roundtable discussions
Key Takeaways – Feedback + share your thoughts
Full line-up and agenda to be announced soon! Spaces are limited – RSVP today to avoid disappointment via the button below.
Abbie Morris is the CEO and co-founder of Compare Ethics. With over 12 years working at the intersection of global sustainability policy and business, she is a specialist in ESG and sustainable product communications. Abbie has worked with governments, NGOs and the private sector, as well as working with clients at international organisations such as the United Nations and World Economic Forum. She also led the Confederation of British Industry’s first sustainability working group and circular economy product launch. For the last two years, Abbie has been recognised as one of The Most Influential Women in Tech (UK), won the Stylus Changemakers Award in 2021 and was selected for Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2020.
Valentina Okolo is the Environmental Manager at PANGAIA and has over 7 years’ experience consulting in the sustainability and corporate responsibility sector. She has worked across various industries such as retail, pharmaceuticals, publishing and media and specialises in supply chains, developing and setting sustainability strategies and environmental reporting and compliance for global organisations. Alongside her professional passion for sustainability, she is committed to social mobility and promoting equity and equality for people from disadvantaged backgrounds. She is a volunteer and the former Diversity, Equity and Inclusion trustee of the educational charity the Literacy Pirates.
The Trampery is a purpose-led enterprise dedicated to making business a positive force in society. They provide workspaces, venues, and training in pursuit of their mission.
The Trampery has been delivering dedicated support for the fashion sector since 2015. Initially through its renowned London Fields workspace, and more recently The Trampery Fish Island Village and Poplar Works, which offer a total of 70,000 square feet of dedicated space for start-up and scale-up fashion businesses with a state-of-the-art campus and mix of affordable workspaces, co-working, manufacturing and showcasing facilities.
Learn more at www.thetrampery.com
Stay tuned for updates via our social channels:
Last Thursday, it was all about celebrating the power of community at our Traces: Stories of Migration Finissage, in collaboration with Making for Change. Taking place only a few days after a migrant boat capsized in the English Channel, the event felt like a timely reflection on migration, underlining the need for compassion towards those seeking a peaceful life.
The evening, which was full of enlightening conversations, featured the work of over 60 individuals who participated in the inspirational Traces project. The project, which involved various communities across East London, explored the experiences of migration and the memories accumulated as people journey from one place to another. Launched 18 months ago, the programme consisted of storytelling and making workshops run by internationally acclaimed artist Lucy Orta.
With textiles being their chosen medium of creative expression, the Traces participants set about developing ‘story cloths’ that showcased and celebrated their histories as first, second or third-generation migrants. Reflecting the diverse heritage of each participant, the story cloths were stitched with personal marks and motifs, expressing each person’s lived experience. Displaying the story cloths to the public for the first time, the event also exhibited textile portraits of the participants created by Lucy Orta throughout the project.
Speaking about the event, Lucy Orta said, “What a remarkable finale to conclude the Traces: Stories of Migration community engagement. The Lab E20 was resonating with the powerful stories that have been so generously shared over the last 18 months. The tremendous turnout of people, across generations and cultures, was a testament to the trust and friendships that have been nurtured, showing unity in diversity.”
Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, also took to the floor to thank everybody for sharing their personal stories of migration. “Thank you to all of you who have shared your stories so openly and beautifully with us. It is a real honour to hear you talk about your experiences and personal journeys. I am not a migrant, but I feel like my emotions have splashed into your world and that has been beautiful for me to experience in my time of life.”
Joining us at the event was the award-winning non-profit platform, Give Your Best – a clothes donation site for refugee women and children. The Give Your Best team showcased artwork from their charity fashion show, displaying the canvas runway which the models – asylum seekers and refugees – turned into artwork by dipping their shoes in paint and covering the runway in multicoloured footprints. The art piece is symbolic of the personal journeys they have embarked on, moving from one country to another. Attendees also heard from Sidorela, Basma and Kemi who walked in the fashion show and have been users of the GYB platform. “I was going to a job interview, but I had nothing to wear,” explained Kemi. “Give Your Best gave me four outfits. I didn’t get the job but I felt confident and empowered going to the interview. If you have any clothes you no longer want, please donate on the platform and help change the lives of refugee women and children.”
Emerging visual artist, Isaac Grubb, also displayed his interactive digital art installation, ‘Impetus.’ Exploring the intricacies of the human experience, the installation uses flowers to mirror the movement of people and asks the viewer to consider both the physical and mental journeys of human beings. “I would like people to come away from the installation with a sense of their own agency,” Isaac told us. “And perhaps for them to consider the agency of other people and how that may differ from their own.”
After hearing from all of our speakers – including Elena and Mariana, participants of the Traces project, and UAL’s writer-in-residence, Nathalie Abi-Ezzi, who performed three poems on the theme of migration – guests mingled, danced and enjoyed the free bar. Marking our final Fashion District event of the year, it truly was an unforgettable night, and we were thrilled that so many of you came and celebrated with us.
Huge thank you to Making for Change, Lucy Orta, Give Your Best, Isaac Grubb and all the artists involved in the Traces project. Follow @making.for.change and @lucyjorgeorta on Instagram to learn about upcoming exhibitions of Lucy’s textile portraits and the story cloths made throughout this project. You can check out more of Isaac Grubb’s work here, and if you would like to donate any clothes, books or items to Give Your Best, please head to www.giveyourbest.uk
As we head into 2023, why not sign up to our much-loved newsletter or follow our social channels to hear about our upcoming events by signing:
Over the last six months, The Lab E20 has seen a flurry of fashion activity. From charity fashion shows to the unveiling of SS23 presentations by the most exciting emerging designers, we’ve had a blast helping to curate the events programme for the expansive Stratford space. Let’s take a look back at the last half of the year and uncover some of our favourite fashion highlights.
Soboye – Lagos 54
Renowned for their beautiful, handcrafted clothes which champion the African diaspora, SOBOYE’s pop-up showcased their latest collection, Lagos 54. Paying homage to the iconic 70s nightclub Studio 54 and the vibrancy of Lagos, Nigeria, the collection featured razor-sharp tailoring, electrifying colours, sequins, hot pants, and jumpsuits. The pop-up followed an invite-only launch in collaboration with The Company at Winchester School of Art – an enterprise project which connected 20 MA students with the SOBOYE team to help provide behind-the-scenes assistance with the pop-up and launch.
Check out SOBOYE here.
Rosie Evans – Leave Nothing But Footsteps
Inspired by her childhood in the Welsh countryside, Rosie Evans’ SS23 fashion presentation paid homage to the hippy culture of the 2000s and childhood nostalgia. A combination of easy pieces layered to create wearable but outlandish outfits, the collection honoured Rosie’s commitment to second-hand fabrics, sourcing fabrics from charity shops, car boots, and the streets of Brighton. Even the jeans – sourced from a charity shop and ripped beyond repair – were given a second life with patched flowers, epitomising the collection’s mantra “Things Can Change.”
Find out more about Rosie Evans on her website.
Molini London – Élégance éternelle
Marking Molini’s London Fashion Week debut, their SS23 collection ‘Élégance éternelle’ consisted of sixteen looks that embodied the timeless elegance of femininity. The show was opened with a performance by the ballet dancer Alice Oakley Jones and set the tone for the silky, sophisticated collection. Operating on a ‘minimum waste policy’, Molini sustainably sources everything, from fabric to packaging. Every piece was made from GOTS-certified organic peace silks produced from regenerative farming and recycled polyester and the entire collection was made locally in East London.
See more of Molini London here.
SansPeng – Fantasy Extravaganza / Golden City
Taking inspiration from cross-cultural and fuzzy-boundary domains, London-based designer SansPeng unveiled his latest collection of reinterpreted gender-fluid clothes at his September SS23 Fashion presentation. Artist Luca Asta kicked off the night with a choreographed pole performance, followed by an evening set from DJ Sonora as guests checked out the innovative collection. Expressing delicate elegance and fragile power, the presentation showcased SansPeng’s various methods of re-creation which signify state of freedom and randomness.
Immerse yourself in the world of SansPeng via their website.
Give Your Best – The Good Fashion Show
The Good Fashion Show by Give Your Best was a night full of colour, joy, and empowerment. Continuing their mission to use the power of fashion for good, The Good Fashion Show saw refugees from the GYB community take to the catwalk to showcase looks from fifteen sustainable brands. Some of the brave, resilient, gorgeous women were seeking asylum, some had refugee status – all of them felt empowered. As the women walked the runway, their voices played over the speakers, sharing their journeys and personal experiences. Members of the audience laughed, cried, danced, and celebrated the stars of the show – an inspirational, unforgettable night!
Learn more about Give Your Best here.
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Last week we hosted our Circular Economy event, in collaboration with The Green Business Network, at Orford House in Walthamstow. A chance to hear from exciting guest speakers, connect and collaborate with like-minded individuals and learn more about circularity and how it can benefit businesses, read on below to find out more about this incredible evening.
Kicking off the event, Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, took to the floor to explain why advancing the field of circular design is so integral to the future of fashion. “At Fashion District, we are all about future-proofing businesses, that’s why helping to implement a circular business model is imperative to our mission,” she told the packed room. “Circularity can help make a positive impact on the planet by transforming our throwaway economy and tackling climate change, biodiversity loss, waste and pollution. Ultimately, it can change the fashion industry for good. ”
Afterwards, guest speaker, Connor Hill, founder of Inspire Circular, delivered a keynote speech on the circular economy. Having spent over ten years developing and delivering circular strategies at Adidas, John Lewis, and M&S, Connor is perfectly primed to discuss how change can start with businesses, whether small or large. “Where does everything end up?” Connor asked attendees. “When we think about fashion, sometimes it’s easy to forget that everything we’ve ever owned in the past has an impact on the planet.”
Carrie Davies, founder of circular fashion brand One Essentials, then offered up a case study of her own Walthamstow-based business. Carrie launched One Essentials during lockdown after working in the fashion industry for years. “I didn’t want to make stuff for stuff’s sake,” she said.“I was creating all this stuff and not thinking about where it ended up. It all just becomes someone else’s problem. We’re not thinking about that when we create something.” Frustrated with the system and the quick turnaround to meet demands and trends, Carrie realised she wanted to make a difference. The idea? Pants that are biodegradable. “I felt compelled to take on the challenge and was firm in my belief to not contribute to the problem.”
After Carrie’s speech, guests were divided into roundtable discussion groups chaired by local businesses and entrepreneurs. The discussion groups allowed attendees to share their thoughts about circularity and spark new circular business ideas. Afterwards each group fed back their thoughts to the rest of the room.
For the remainder of the evening, guests carried on their conversations, networked and enjoyed the free bar.
With thanks to our guests speakers and all of the businesses who took part, including: Harriet Saywood-Bellisario, Founder, Saywood Studio; Bliss Staple, Founder, Or Collective; Francesca Cotton, Journalist + Volunteer at Homegrown Homespun; Vic Holbrook + Bex Courtney, Founders, The Regular Works; Naila Ahmad, Designer + Founder, The Creative Side of London; Kala Paul-Worika, Founder, By Kala X, and Suzie Madine, Founder, Make Do and Wonder; Korantema Anyimadu – Curator, Zine Maker + Cultural Producer; Jacqueline Branson – Founder, Quilt The Row
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