By Claudia Dupé, Second Year English
Raising funds for the not for profit organisation ‘The Sustainable Angle’, the Bristol University Sustainability Team (BUST) collaborated with the UoB Fashion Federation, Bristol Uni Natural Health Society and Fashion Exchange Bristol to host a ‘Sustainable Fashion Show’ which embodied the ethos of sustainable fashion and integrated it with the student lifestyle.
‘Sustainability’ is the word on everyone’s tongues right now and it’s quickly become a hot-topic in the fashion world. Sustainable fashion promotes upcycling; re-working; donating; vintage clothing; clothes-swapping; hand-making and the use of sustainable materials, all in an effort to reduce the negative environmental impact of the fashion industry (particularly fast fashion).
Beginning at 4pm and ending at 8pm, this was an ambitious event which promised more than just a runway. Most people arrived at the event armed with a tote bag and tupperware, ready to fill their stomachs (courtesy of Bristol Junk Food Cafe) and their wardrobes (thanks to the clothes-swap enterprise)- we were not disappointed.
The clothes-swap initiative was organised and run by Fashion Exchange Bristol, whose system is simple and effective; for each item of clothing you donate, you choose one in return, and solves the woe of being bored of your own clothes but not being able to afford new. By taking money out of the equation and using this effective fashion currency, the pleasure of clothes shopping reached a whole new meaning.
In honour of the event, the SU’s Anson Rooms were transformed by bright immersive lighting, suitably-themed visuals and a catwalk-ready stage, however, it was a platform runway too-short from being a fully fledged fashion arena. Before the main event began, a DJ helped create an electrifying atmosphere and by 18:30 it was lights, camera, action!
One by one, and sometimes in pairs, the models hit the stage with an energy level that shook the audience. From fierce struts to cool swaggers, the personalities of the models shone through in their captivating runway walks. The selected UoB students made models of every description, which diversified the runway and broke the conventions of “what makes a model”. It was refreshing to see models who broke the normal beauty standards of the fashion world, as they modelled the clothes with a level of realism that is usually hard to find on the catwalk.
A whole host of sustainable fashion collections were presented, beginning with classic vintage-denim looks that looked effortlessly cool. Other collections featured chíc blazer suits, matching coords, sports wear and upcycled fabrics featuring bold prints. The most striking collection was from ‘ThatThing’, a local business based in Stokes Croft who stock the clothes of independent Bristol designers. With their use of upcycled vintage fabrics; clashing patterns and pop-pom accessories, their image was punchy and outrageously cool. ThatThing not only featured in the show but they also had a clothing/accessories stall, meaning that after being inspired by the looks you could create your very own.
One of the most memorable pieces of the night was a unisex waterproof poncho that came in a whole host of bright colours. These ponchos would be perfect for rainy festival days, as unlike the cheap survival ones that ruin an outfit, these stylish ones would make your outfit. Although a lot of the looks were festival appropriate, the essence of the collections were undeniably reflective of the Bristol student culture and would fit right into both the night scenes of the city as well as the campus’ street-style. Whilst some outfits were well thought-through and reflected the current trends in urban fashion, others were more spontaneously constructed and literally ‘just off the hanger’ (ThatThing’s stall). Overall, the collections were harmonious with the night’s sustainable theme and reflected the craftsmanship of an experimental student wardrobe.
The show’s production was a spectacle which did both the clothes and the models justice. From the get-go, the DJ (‘morethanmusic’) delivered the goods. Playing favourite bangers such as Hannah Wants’ ‘Rhymes’ and the Eurythmics’ ‘Sweet Dreams’, the 35 minute runway show was both visually and audibly exciting.
Quicker music transitions would have prevented some awkward silences which broke the magic for brief moments, however, between intermissions the audience were captivated by the impressive live vocals of a singer-songwriter. Although the live music filled the space between outfit changes, it lacked some cohesion and could have been executed more collaboratively to polish the overall effect.
The visuals could also have been used to help sustain a stronger message throughout the show and provide information about the origin of the clothes presented. Although a platform runway would have shown-off the clothes better, the staging was well lit and the space was used to its full potential so that the clothes could be viewed from all angles. Most impressive was the use of stairs from the stage to the runway aisle, which the models miraculously walked down without losing focus.
UoB’s first ‘Sustainable Fashion Show’ has set the bar high and proved the industry’s promising future. The show both on and off the runway was a interactive experience between the student body and the fashion industry, which presented a realistic vision of sustainable fashion that is attainable for all students. Next time, a longer runway show with more models, more looks and a stronger message throughout, will push the sustainable objective further into the current student climate.
Featured Image: Claudia Dupé / Epigram
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