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Design Futures 2022: Critical Friends Day

As part of the final stages of the Design Futures 2022 challenge, our shortlisted designers had the privilege of presenting their innovations to industry experts at our ‘Critical Friends Day.’ The day provided the finalists with the rare opportunity to receive critical feedback from specialists in various sectors to ensure their design concept is foolproof ahead of their final presentation to the judges.   

Each shortlisted designer had the opportunity to sit down with five different Critical Friends panels including: Business Planning, Marketing, Design Innovation, Production + Sourcing, and Use Phase + End of Life. The designers took the first few minutes to introduce and explain their concept in detail. Afterwards, the Critical Friends critiqued the proposed design innovation and gave feedback from the perspective of their specialist area. 

This part of the challenge is designed specifically to support our shortlist in the lead up to the final presentations, where they will showcase their design innovation and pitch to win. To be in with the best chance of winning, the panels were aligned to the key points of the Design Futures criteria so that the designers could develop their propositions using constructive feedback.

The Critical Friends have been selected for their expertise and experience across specialist areas, ensuring that the designers get well-rounded feedback in each session.

Read on below to see the full list of experts that took part. 

Alan Hunt – Head of Intellectual Property, Lewis Silkin
Tom Gaunt – Co-Founder of The Collective and Deputy Co-Head of Media and Entertainment Group, Lewis Silkin
Stuart Balmer – Principal of Financial Planning, Balmer Financial Planning
Sally Denton – Editor and Founder, HRE AFTA

Mafalda Oliveira – Business Engagement Lead, ReLondon
Emily Gordon-Smith – Content Director and Sustainability Lead, Stylus
Jen Charon – Co-Founder, LOANHOOD

Dagmar Grote – Partnership Manager, Fashion for Good
Marilyn Martinez – Project Manager, Ellen MacArthur Foundation
Chelsea Franklin – Senior Concept Designer, PANGAIA

Blake Sturgess – Senior Manager, Product Operations, PANGAIA
Andrew Yip – Head of Materials and Process Innovation, PANGAIA
Mikha Mekler – Lecturer in production manager, Ex-Head of Production at Raeburn

Anastasia Grenkova – Sustainability Manager, Oxwash
Rory Hugill – Materials Impact Manager, PANGAIA
Layla Sargent – Founder and CEO, The Seam

We would like to extend our thanks and gratitude to all of the industry experts that provided invaluable feedback during the Critical Friends Day. We can’t wait to see the results at the final presentations in November.

Stay tuned for more Design Futures 2022 updates by following us on our social channels, or why not sign up to our much-loved monthly newsletter?

Design Futures Finalists Announced: Meet the designers advancing circular fashion in 2022

The Fashion District, in collaboration with London College of Fashion, UAL, is pleased to announce the shortlist of nine designers that could revolutionise the fashion industry.

Design Futures 2022 calls upon sustainably-driven designers and businesses to present new design solutions to prevent premature disposal, and extend the usage of products to help make a positive impact on the planet. It is focused on designers who are developing propositions for longevity, zero waste design, designing with waste, material cyclability, and regeneration.

Shortlisted designers are competing to win a cash prize of £15,000, donated by PANGAIA, one of the leading material science companies dedicated to tackling the climate crisis. The winner will also receive a development workshop with PANGAIA, plus ten consultancy hours with the company. The Trampery Fish Island Village will provide a one-year desk membership, alongside the Business of Fashion who is offering complementary professional membership, and Common Objective who will be providing a 12-month business membership with global connections, premium intelligence and training courses in sustainable fashion and manufacturing. The winner will also receive a brand new sewing machine from Anglo American Sewing Machines.

The shortlist was selected by our high-profile panel of leading sustainable and fashion experts: Craig Smith, Research and Development Director at PANGAIA; Shailja Dubé, Institute of Positive Fashion Lead, British Fashion Council; Sebastian Manes, Executive Director, Buying and Merchandising, Selfridges; Phoebe English, Designer; and Laetitia Frost, Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Centre for Circular Design.

The 9 finalists are listed below:

Andrew Bell
Andrew Bell is a London-based designer whose design practice aims to change the future of tailoring. His innovation integrates traditional tailoring techniques with sonic welding and taping technologies in a bid to transform the tailoring process. The result is a lightweight garment that is mono-material in its fabrication, allowing it to be easily reprocessed at the end-of-life stage.

Daniel Crabtree
Reimagining British tailoring, Daniel Crabtree offers handcrafted menswear staples that are progressive and built to endure. Each shape is drawn and cut freehand, generating unexpected fits and proportions that playfully embody the awkwardness of youth. His look is crafted from repurposed fabrics and materials to eliminate waste from development and production processes.

FibreLab empowers fashion businesses to implement circular practices throughout their supply chain by shredding their unwanted textiles and developing innovative ways to use them. Their look was designed with circularity in mind and explores key sustainability themes including hyper-local sourcing, modularity, and design for disassembly.

Nicci James
Having completed an MA in Fashion Knitwear at the Royal College of Art, designer Nicci James works with a design method that harnesses wool’s durability by using knitted structures to engineer strength into the garment. Her innovation uses the capabilities of wool without added interfacings, stabilisers, or linings, presenting a completely mono-material example of tailoring that is easier to reprocess.

Osmose Studio
Osmose Studio is an interdisciplinary design studio focused on regenerative circularity and sustainability in fashion, accessories, and homeware. Their innovation offers a new restorative and symbiotic clothing production model, where renewable fibres are combined with organic dyes, assisting the remediation of UK polluted land sites.

Savvas Alexander
Savvas Alexander is a designer and maker from Yorkshire whose design practice embodies the creation of meaningful clothing by enabling made-to-order systems that tackle overproduction and overconsumption. His innovation reduces garment processes and speeds up manufacture by sealing garment edges, and eliminating excess finishes and fastenings.

Skins of Earth
Plant-based luxury handbag brand Skins of Earth is on a mission to drive sustainable change. Paying homage to paleobiology, their designs evoke sculptural forms and are made entirely from natural rubber biomaterials that are grown as a live form using a low-energy incubation system; ensuring that all designs can be biodegradable after their life cycle.

WEFFAN x Liquid Editions
Weffan x Liquid Editions is a collaboration between 3D woven textile company Weffan and designer brand Liquid Editions. Together they have created a 3D woven, low-waste outfit that combines two manufacturing steps into one, merging the weaving of the fabric with the creation of the garment. This method considers the sustainability of everything in the production process and proposes a new way to decrease garment manufacture.

Y.A.N.G. (You Are the Next Generation)
Hailing from Chile, Y.A.N.G. has spent the last six years working as a designer and upcycler. Their innovation is a waste-minimising garment reconstruction method that will allow retailers to efficiently reconstruct or redesign their excess stock. This will ensure retailers cut out waste, extend the life of their products, and introduce garment remaking techniques.

Before pitching to the judges at an industry and investor supper in November 2022, the finalists will receive constructive feedback from high-level industry experts who will act as Critical Friends, in the areas of fashion design, business strategy, IP, production and circularity.

Helen Lax, Director, Fashion District said: “We are delighted to announce our shortlist of designers who have proposed nine innovations that could advance the field of circular design. This is our chance to work together, both within the industry and across other sectors, to bring circular design into public consciousness in a bid to tackle environmental issues and reshape the fashion industry.”

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to stay up-to-date with the latest Design Futures news.

Investment Opportunity: PDS Innovation Awards

We’re delighted to announce that Fashion District is supporting The PDS Innovation Awards! Celebrating the ongoing partnership between Common Objective (CO) and PDS Limited, the awards offer early-stage businesses the opportunity to pitch in front of PDS investors.

About the awards

PDS Limited is a leader in enabling the next generation of sustainable and scalable fashion tech start-ups. PDS Venture Tech, the venture arm of PDS Limited, has already invested in a raft of businesses – from Materra to Good on You, Unspun, and many more. Could you be their next investment? The PDS Innovation Awards is your opportunity to pitch to the PDS investment team, plus benefit from promotion to the 50k+ Common Objective fashion industry base.

For the purpose of the awards, the judging panel considers sustainability to encompass positive impact for people, as well as addressing environmental concerns.

How it works

By completing the application form below and creating a CO business profile, you enter the competition to win a chance to pitch in front of the PDS investment team. In this process, the CO team will pre-screen a shortlist of the most innovative and exciting start-ups. Out of these, PDS will select a few that will be invited to pitch. Judging these pitches, PDS will select a winner to be considered for investment or other support from PDS.

All shortlisted applicants will benefit from promotion across the CO platform. All applicants benefit from creating a free business profile on CO, and joining the global industry community dedicated to sustainability best practice. 

Who can apply

For your business to be eligible for the awards, you must:

What’s in it for you

Judging criteria

Judges will be looking for the following:

Innovation led business models


Application process

To finish your application, please complete the following 2 steps:

Applications can only be considered if both steps have been completed by the deadline: 30th June 2022.

Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for more events and opportunities for you and your business!

Green Kids Studio: Activities for Little Eco Warriors

Are you looking for a fun way to introduce your kids to sustainability? Well, look no further! Bring your little eco warriors along to The Lab E20 on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June for FREE storytelling, puppet making and craft activities.

At the Green Kids Studio, not only will we be showcasing environmentally friendly products from leading kidswear brands, we’ll also be hosting a range of playful activities for your little eco warriors to get involved in throughout the weekend. Come along and have some fun at the following:

🐛 Pip & Henry’s Bug Hunt – Storytelling Activity (under 6 y/o)
Pip & Henry are scouting around their home, looking for the Naughty Bug that’s making everyone sick! Along the way they meet many other friendly bugs and creatures that reassure them that not all bugs are scary, how some bugs actually help the planet, and advise them on what to do next to stay safe. Can Pip & Henry send the Naughty Bug away and stop him coming back? 


🎨 Art Play London (under 12 y/o)
Art Play London is a creative space in London for children and adults to set their imaginations free with a strong focus on the environment and sustainable materials.

Throughout the weekend they’ll be running workshops that will help kids understand environmental concerns through art, including Eco Warriors Art and Craft that will offer children the chance to use recycled resources to create a piece of artwork to take home, as well as helping to create a collaborative mosaic using recycled materials.

In The Naughty Bug Puppet Theatre, children will also be able to make naughty bug puppets out of recycled materials and then stage their own miniature plays in a handmade theatre, made of abandoned and repurposed wood. 


🖍️ Community Couture (all ages)
Community Couture combines bespoke slow fashion principles with traditions of storytelling through textiles.

Their drop-in craft sessions will give young people the opportunity to reflect on the issues facing the world and the role that they can play in it, by encouraging them to get creative through illustration and collage. There will be a big cardboard canvas for you to fill with shapes and pictures that show us how to help the planet.

These unique artworks will then be translated into textile weaves and made into a piece of children’s clothing that will later be available to rent. 

Drop-in anytime over the weekend! No booking necessary.

Mark it down in your diaries because this is a pop-up you do not want to miss! We can’t wait to see you there!

Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for more upcoming brand and activity announcements in the coming weeks! We can’t wait to see you there.

Apply Now: The Backroom Pitch!

Applications for The Backroom Pitch are now closed.

Are you a fashion or fashion-tech startup focusing on sustainability? Looking to raise £250K and above over the next 6-12 months? Apply to The Backroom Pitch to be in with the chance of pitching your business to VCs and leading investors!

Fashion District is hosting The Backroom Pitch in Stratford on Tuesday 19 July, 18:00 – 20:30, where selected businesses will pitch to a panel of VCs and investors, all interested in new sustainable solutions that tackle the critical issues of the fashion industry.

Joining us on the day will be Diarra Smith and investors from Ascension Ventures, Backed VC, Bethnal Green Ventures, Conduit Connect, Fuel Ventures, Nesta, Speedinvest, PDS Ventures, Alma Angels and many more!

The diverse line-up of investors will be looking for businesses that are focused on any part of the fashion value chain including (but not limited to):

If your solution aims to innovate the fashion industry, to help it become more circular, more sustainable, more ethical, we would love to hear from you.

In between pitching, the selected businesses will be able to network with other founders, fashion professionals and entrepreneurs. This is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss!

Application Process + Eligibility

To be in with the chance of pitching at The Backroom Pitch, please complete the application form below by Sunday 10 July, midnight.

Applications will be selected based on the following criteria:

We are committed to diversity and inclusion and strongly encourage applications from founders that are women, black, POC, and other underrepresented communities.

If you have any queries, please get in touch with us at

All applicants will receive the outcome of their application by 12 July.

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on The Backroom Pitch and more exciting opportunities and events:

Meet Design Futures 2022 Judge: Phoebe English

In the lead up to our Design Futures 2022 application deadline, we sat down with renowned sustainable womenswear designer, Phoebe English, to talk about her circular design practice and what she’s looking for in this year’s applications.

“I’m hoping to see something that we haven’t come across or thought of before,” Phoebe English, founder of her eponymous label and Design Futures judge, says of this year’s Fashion District challenge. “The current systems that fashion operates within don’t align with the future of the planet. So I’m excited to see creative new visions of alternative systems and approaches we can be approaching and working towards.”

Phoebe English would know, after all she’s created an alternative system of her own. Having founded her label in 2011, the British-born fashion designer creates pieces with close attention to quality and craftsmanship, which in an age of ‘fast’ fashion has made her a leader among peers. Reducing negative environmental impact has always been at the top of Phoebe’s agenda, and all of her production is made in London – from sketch to garment – to minimise her label’s footprint. A dynamic thinker with a careful, considered approach, Phoebe is on an ever-evolving search to better her practices, making her the perfect judge for this year’s innovation challenge which is focused on design for circularity. 

As the Design Futures 2022 deadline approaches, she talks us through her advice to applicants, her thoughts on designing in the current climate, and her own circular initiatives. 

What piece of advice would you give to sustainable designers and brands entering the challenge?

“To keep their minds open to things which are both possible and achievable now, with the current things that are available but also to take into consideration “big blue sky” thinking of what could be possible if other infrastructures were available in the future. Also to keep in mind that it is never possible to “win” at sustainability, we can only propose many solutions for the varied pressing issues that we face.”

Expanding upon what you mentioned at our Design Futures 2022 launch, what is the place of designers in a time when we’re physically drowning in stuff?

“The place of designers in a time when we’re physically drowning in stuff, is that we need to work doubly hard, not only do we need to be thinking about our design work but we need to be carefully considering the external factors that every design decision we make implicates and effects both planetary and socially.”

You mentioned that it’s important to think carefully when it comes to production and designing. How do you consider such big decisions?

“Design is always collaborative, you can’t design in isolation. Every design is a collaboration with materials and people. Design does not exist in a vacuum.”

What sustainable/circular initiatives are you currently implementing in your company?

“We’ve been trying to explore and trial as many different approaches towards a circular approach as we can over the past couple of years at the studio, such as the reuse of our own waste, the reuse of other commercial waste, designing “out” waste from the design stage, considering and reducing the chemical content of our clothing through natural dyes, and most recently we have explored how we can develop bioregional agricultural regenerative practices.”

Apply for Design Futures 2022 now! Find out more here:

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on this year’s design innovation challenge and more exciting opportunities and events:

Green Kids Studio: A Sustainable Children’s Fashion Pop-Up

Join us on Saturday 25th and Sunday 26th June at The Lab E20 to pick up conscious products for your little ones from leading sustainable kidswear brands.

We’re delighted to announce that we will be curating a sustainable children’s pop-up at The Lab E20 from the 25th – 26th June.

Our very own Green Kids Studio will demonstrate ways that parents and families can engage with sustainable fashion. Come along and check out functional, fun and environmentally friendly products from leading kidswear brands and meet the lovely, passionate people behind the designs.

Looking for playful activities for your little eco warrior? Storytelling sessions and art play workshops will also be offered throughout the weekend and Community Couture will be hosting drop-in craft sessions.

Find out more and book.

For anyone looking for a sustainable solution to their children’s outgrown clothing, visit our clothes swap with Verte Mini on Sunday 26 June, 10AM – 1PM! Bring along up to 15 items of boys or girls clothes (up to 12 y/o). Focus on quality rather than quantity – anything you’d be happy to take home or for your kids to continue wearing should it fit them. If you don’t have anything to swap, this is a great opportunity to buy second hand clothing for your children.

Feeling extra organised? Drop off your children’s clothes on Saturday 25 June and we’ll get them prepped for the swap on Sunday.

Register your interest today!

Spread across an entire weekend, the Green Kids Studio will feature a carefully curated selection of sustainable children’s brands, including:

Bundlee is the UK’s first rental service for baby clothes. A great way to get amazing quality clothes at a fraction of the price – you can rent from some of our favourite brands including MORI, Mini Rodini, Patagonia and more. With sustainability at the core, Bundlee want to provide a better alternative for parents. Clothes that are returned are professionally cleaned and sanitised before being shared with the next renting family.

dotte is more than a marketplace – they are a movement that won’t accept style at the cost of the planet. They’re opening up thousands of children’s wardrobes with their family-to-family marketplace; a simple one-stop-shop where parents can buy, sell, donate and recycle outgrown children’s clothing. A full circle remedy to the fastest area of fashion, dotte go beyond peer-to-peer buying and selling by offering their community donation and recycling options too.

The team at dotte believe that together we can slow fashion down, make every stitch count, and love every fibre of the fabric. And with their curated edits, style discovery and resale collective (featuring perks and discounts on some of your favourite kidswear brands), they make shopping secondhand feel like new. dotte invite you all to join them on the journey.

VANDALKIDS is a new brand of kidswear offering high quality practical and comfortable gear for children aged 3 to 10 without compromising on style. Created by ex-brand director and mother Kat Vandal, VANDALKIDS has been designed to encourage kids’ creativity and self-expression whilst incorporating parent-friendly features to help the clothes last and reduce their impact on the planet.

Petit Pli
Made up of a team of engineers, scientists and designers, Petit Pli makes products that help people – and the planet. Their clothing philosophy: They invent clothes that grow. These items fit for years, not months. Petit Pli garments are beautiful and innovative, using the highest-quality materials, construction and best- in-class ethical supply chains.

Pip & Henry
Pip and Henry make beautifully designed, vibrant shoes for children, with the environment in mind – using recycled materials and plant-based fibres. 

Verte London
Verte is a London founded, clothes swapping company, who exist to help people update their wardrobe without having a negative impact on the planet. Now they want to try and combat both of these things and extend the lifespan of children’s clothing, by hosting a clothes swap for children.

Sunday 26 June | 10:00 – 13:00

Boy Wonder
Boy Wonder is a boy’s fashion brand that is playful and positive. With organic cotton and chemical-free prints parents can feel happy knowing they are safe and earth-friendly. Boy Wonder garments are made ethically with love in Britain giving them a super low fashion footprint. 

By Kala x
By Kala X was created to bring a love of African print material to a wider audience. From eye-catching designs to bold and beautiful colours, guaranteed to make your little one stand out, all items are handmade by mum-of-two Kala.

Zupcycled aims to inspire people and brands about upcycling, reusing, reclaiming and repurposing, to help save the planet for our kids. Their materials are collected from brand collaboration projects and leftovers saved from textile factories. Zupcycled offers upcycling art and craft kits that provide an eco-friendly and sustainable activity for rainy weekends, school breaks, birthday parties or corporate events.

Activities for children will also run throughout the weekend, including Pip & Henry’s Bug hunt – a unique storytelling activity featuring a very Naughty Bug that’s making everyone sick! Alongside this, Art Play London will be offering workshops for little ones, and Community Couture will be running drop-in craft-sessions on both days, offering children the chance to get creative and take something home. 

Learn more about our activities and book your place here!

Keep your eyes peeled on our social channels for more upcoming brand and activity announcements in the coming weeks! We can’t wait to see you there.

New Exhibition: ReGo: Our Story in the Making

Brand new east London exhibition, ReGo, to explore fashion activism’s impact on positive social change through a fashion collection made from repurposed knives taken off the streets.

After a super successful launch last week, the long-awaited ReGo exhibition is now open to visitors! Supported by Foundation for Future London and London College of Fashion, ReGo: Our Story in the Making examines how fashion activism can lead to positive social change.

On display in the exhibition are jewellery, bags, dresses and garments created from repurposed metal from knives received from KnifeSafe – an organisation that aims to reduce knife crime by getting knives off the streets. The showcased items have been co-created by young people from East London (Newham, Waltham Forest, Hackney and Tower Hamlets) in collaboration with local fashion brands including Michelle-Lowe Holder, FibreLab, The Reclaimery and CQ Studio.

Exploring how fashion activism can be used to shift the prevailing narrative around youth violence, the three-week long exhibition opening 19 May, will showcase the extraordinary pieces created through the ReGo project as well as a short-film and podcasts allowing visitors to fully understand the collaborations, workshops, people, and stories that have formed this unique and important display.

After the exhibition, the new collection will be available to rent exclusively via LOANHOOD, the innovative rental platform offering a sustainable and accessible way to refresh wardrobes and wear unique high-end items that people might not otherwise have had access to. All proceeds raised will go towards supporting on-going educational and employment opportunities for young people in fashion.

“Project ReGo has enabled a multidisciplinary team to come together and work collaboratively to prevent and tackle the systemic issue of youth violence, including young people in local activities and community life in order to redesign their own future. […] Overall, ReGo and this project showcase intend to demonstrate how fashion activism can be used to shape better lives and address social justice, nurturing sustainability and prosperity for all.”

Dr Francesco Mazzarella, Centre for Sustainable Fashion, London College of Fashion + ReGo Co-Project Lead

ReGo: Our Story in the Making is open Thursdays – Sundays, 12pm – 6pm, from 19 May – 5 June 2022 at The LabE20 (E20 1JB) and is free to visit. For more information, visit:

Follow Project ReGo on Instagram for updates on this exciting project: @project.rego

Meet Design Futures 2022 Prize Giver: Anglo American Sewing Machines

Anglo American Sewing Machines is a company with a difference – for one thing, they have a long, colourful history. 

“My grandfather started with just a couple of second hand machines after WW2,” Marc Shaffer, owner of Anglo American Sewing Machines, says. “Word spread, and then my father and uncle opened the first Anglo American Sewing Machines shop in East London in 1970.”

The company is now over 60 years old, with three shops in London and a slew of major clients all across the globe. “We look after all the big designers and fashion boutiques, as well as schools, colleges and universities and big airline companies. We really pride ourselves on our longstanding clients.”

Renowned for selling industrial sewing machines and ironing equipment, Anglo American Sewing Machines also offer a bespoke maintenance service and machine rental service – and now, they’ll be adding another string to their bow as sponsors of our Design Futures 2022 prize. “We’re thrilled to be offering a brand new sewing machine to the winner of Fashion District’s upcoming innovation challenge. We want to play our part in helping the future of design and we can’t wait to support the designer or brand that wins.”

Why did you decide to partake in Design Futures 2022? 

“Our entire company has been founded on helping people and offering a great service. Design Futures 2022 is exciting because we can really help somebody get started and take the next steps in their design career. We’ll try to be with them every step of the way and offer support in any way we can. We’ve had people work with us for 40 years and we hope this will be the case with the winner of the prize.”

Have you noticed your clients in the fashion industry adopting more sustainable methods?

“Yes. After the pandemic, a number of studios brought production back to Britain to ensure quality control and also for sustainable reasons. A lot of people are also opting for our rental service and using our direct drive sewing machines which use 70 percent less than a standard industrial sewing machine. They only run when your foot is on the pedal so they are a more sustainable option.” 

Over the decades, your company has seen a lot of changes in the London fashion industry. Do you feel hopeful about the future of the industry?

“The rag trade had its peak in the 1970s, London was booming then! But when I joined my family’s company in the 1990s, a lot of brands and companies went overseas, mainly to China, which really impacted businesses. We certainly had to change what we were doing and think about new ways we could benefit customers. Since the pandemic however, a lot of companies are keeping things in Britain which does make me feel hopeful. Although, I really hope the government starts putting more money into training people on industrial machines as there aren’t enough workers at the moment. But yes, overall I am hopeful. I think designers and companies are making different choices now. They care a lot more about quality and sustainability, which is wonderful to see.”

To be in with the chance of winning a brand new sewing machine from Anglo American Sewing Machines, apply to take part in Design Futures 2022 now!

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter for regular updates on this year’s design innovation challenge and more exciting opportunities and events:

Design Futures 2022 Launch at The Lab E20

Last week we celebrated the launch of Design Futures 2022 in collaboration with PANGAIA.

Taking place at The Lab E20, the event offered attendees the chance to hear from our panel of judges including Craig Smith (PANGAIA), Shajila Dube (Institute of Positive Fashion), Laetitia Forst (Centre for Circular Design), Phoebe English and Sarah Mower, about this year’s design innovation challenge. 

Speaking to the crowd, Helen Lax, Director of Fashion District, said she was ‘excited by the energy of the challenge,’ as well as the conversation that arose throughout the night. 

Kicking off the event was our keynote speaker Marilyn Martinez from the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, who stressed the importance of designing for reuse, as well as factoring in emotional durability and customer experience. ‘Collaboration is key,’ Marilyn said. ‘We need to think about how we include people in the conversation, both consumers and big businesses. This will bring about true change.’ Marilyn also highlighted the importance of designing circular business models and supply chains. ‘It’s okay to start small. You have to start somewhere,’ Marilyn added. ‘Circular design is a journey but there is a huge purpose – you’re making a difference.’ 

Afterwards our judging panel took to the stage to share what they’re looking for in this year’s challenge. Craig Smith, Research and Development Director of Pangaia, said he’s looking for ‘a fresh perspective and originality’ while also highlighting that applicants should be transparent in ‘acknowledge where they might need support.’ Finally, he signed off by calling attention to the  4 F’s: Fit, Fabric, Form and Function.  

Shailja Dube emphasized she’ll be paying close attention to construction – how the garment can be reprocessed and taken apart – as well as the scalability of the business model.

Dr Laetitia Forst urged applicants to think about every element of design and what it implies. ‘Being aware of the product’s context can be a good way of showing you’re a conscious designer,’ Laetitia told the crowd.

Sarah Mower said she’ll be on the lookout for proof of concept and innovation, before adding that she hopes the garments will look beautiful. ‘There has to be a reason for the design to exist. Don’t design something that’s ugly.’ She also stressed that having the buyer in mind is incredibly important and wants applicants to think about how they are going to communicate their product. 

Phoebe English said she’s keen to see ‘something that people will treasure,’ as well as ‘careful, considered thinking.’ ‘I want to see designers understand the purpose of their product,’ Phoebe said. ‘Producing less and thinking carefully is key right now.’

Do you think you’ve got what it takes to design a new sustainable solution? Want to be in with a chance of winning £15,000? Applications for Design Futures 2022 are now open!

Follow us on Instagram, LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter and keep your eyes peeled for more exciting news about this year’s design innovation challenge