Centre for Sustainable Fashion | Charley Copperthwaite | 05.31.2024

Fashion Values Cultures: Meet the Finalists for this Year's Challenge!

The Fashion Values Challenge, our creative call out to fashion change-makers, has now drawn to a close. This year’s Challenge was guided by the central question of “how can fashion value cultures of wellbeing?”. The brief called for applicants to come up with transformational ideas across the fields of design, media or technology, demonstrating how their project supports a fashion system that values cultures rather than exploits them.

After receiving many exceptional applications from all over the world, our panel of judges narrowed down six finalists (three students and three industry professionals). As part of our ongoing partnership with Global Fashion Agenda, our finalists’ projects were then presented at the recent Fashion Values Showcase which took place at 2024 Global Fashion Summit in Copenhagen on Tuesday 21st May. The winners of the Challenge, Hannah Riley (Emergent) and Tina Wetshi (Professional) were also revealed at the Showcase event, so stay tuned for upcoming profiles on their work! In the meantime, for those who missed the event, here’s a roundup of this year’s finalists and their projects.

Emergent (Student) Finalists

Adityakumar Shrimali – Loomlight

MA Fashion Futures student Adityakumar’s project Loomlight explores inclusive, accessible fashion. Through the lens of design, Loomlight creates braille-incorporated garments to offer a sensory and more accessible experience for those with visual impairments. Adityakumar’s project is founded on a commitment to ensuring that everyone is able to meaningfully engage in fashion without boundaries. The use of natural materials and limited production model, combined with a deep consideration for communities and people, reflect his wider vision of creating a truly inclusive and positive system.

Kayleigh Parkes – Fashioning Identities for Dementia

Kayleigh is a fashion educator and creative whose initiative Fashioning Identities for Dementia places a key focus on upcycling as a means of maintaining and regaining identity. Through this sustainable craft, individuals work with their own garments to not only create something new and comfortable, but to enhance and recover memories through previous lived experience. Whilst upcycling reflects Kayleigh’s clear commitment to more sustainable practices, her keen interest in the relationship between identity and clothing allows her to approach fashion in a truly holistic manner.

Hannah Riley – Fashion Recipes for the Future

Sustainability-focused designer Hannah is a recent Masters graduate from London College of Fashion. Her project Fashion Recipes for the Future is an open-source toolkit in the form of a cookbook that provides ‘recipes’, activities and discussion prompts for people of all ages to interact and experience fashion in meaningful way. Hannah’s playful exploration into how we engage with fashion aims to catapult the industry towards a more positive future through critical, action-orientated and mindset-based education.

Professional Finalists

Micaela Clubourg & Paola Chavero – Design for Cultural Collaboration

Micaela and Paola are the founders of Design for Cultural Collaboration; an agency dedicated to connecting artisan communities with the wider fashion industry. The driving principles of the agency are built upon Micaela and Paola’s shared commitment to protecting traditional handmade techniques of marginalised groups and communities. Their business-to-business approach allows them to enhance cultural collaboration through integrating these traditional practices into the contemporary textile space.

Sol Escobar – Give Your Best

Sol’s non-profit start-up Give Your Best builds upon the circular business model of resale with a unique and inclusive twist. The platform offers a space for people and brands to donate clothing, which is then made available to the public to shop entirely free of charge. The mission behind the platform is to ensure that communities living in poverty in the UK can shop and engage in fashion with choice and dignity. Through this service, Sol aims to drive social impact by creating a space in which those who often feel excluded from fashion can meaningfully engage and enjoy.

Tina Wetshi – You Can Knit with Us

London-based creative Tina is the founder of the sustainable collective Colèchi. The You Can Knit with Us project was started as part of Colèchi and aims to bring people closer together through a knitting club. This collaborative initiative allows people to directly connect with the craft of fashion and explore new mindsets and approaches to how we engage with it. By putting people in the centre, Tina’s project reflects her core value of recognising the importance of community and learning new skills in activating meaningful change.

Our Challenge finalists were assessed against four key criteria by the judging panel: relevance, originality, feasibility and sustainability impact and thinking. All projects clearly resonated with this year’s central theme, demonstrating how their ideas offered truly impactful solutions to enhance and celebrate cultures of wellbeing through fashion. The projects also emphasised the importance of a holistic approach in fashion by integrating practices and models that are beneficial to both people and planet.

Culture was only realised an official pillar of sustainability comparatively recently (Prof. D. Williams, 2023), and yet this year’s Challenge has shown how expansive the scope for exploration into this area is. Our finalist’s projects reflect the sheer diversity of this subject area, bringing unique, imaginative ideas that represent the communities, traditions and practices that often fly under the radar in the usual sustainability conversations. Their responses to the Challenge brief serve as a reminder of the scale of the associated cultural challenges and barriers that exist in the current fashion system, but demonstrate how feasible it is to find meaningful solutions, making this year one of the strongest years we’ve had on the Fashion Values programme.

The Global Fashion Summit took place in Copenhagen from 21-23 May 2024. For those of you who missed it, insights from the Summit and the Fashion Values showcase event will be shared in due course, so keep your eyes here, on the Fashion Values social channels, and on the Global Fashion Agenda platform!