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Published date
11 July 2018

A unique, social enterprise, Project_Sweat combines cutting-edge design, advanced technical fabrics and a charitable mission, resulting in a series of bespoke kit bags which are visually striking, sustainable and can benefit women around the world.

Project_Sweat is a collaborative initiative, founded on the simple idea that designing a better kit bag could make a world of difference. The project was originated in 2015 by Social Entrepreneur David Balhuizen, who set out to find a solution to the unnecessary, repeat use of plastic bags for wet or sweaty gym gear. With this in mind, Balhuizen approached Marie McMillan Guy, Joint Head of Innovation and Business at Central Saint Martins and together they devised the foundations for a socially-engaged enterprise which would teach our graduates entrepreneurial skills, contribute to charities which support women in education and produce a new, advanced waterproof bag for everyday use.

Project_Sweat, 2018. Image: Copyright Project_Sweat

The resulting Project_Sweat kit bags are designed to fully enclose damp swimsuits or sweaty activewear. They are composed of a three-layer bonded fabric with no breathability, ensuring any moisture stays inside the bag, while the welded seams prevent any leakages. With a water-resistant finish, any water that comes into contact with the bag’s surface is also repelled. The various, graphic bag motifs have been designed by two Central Saint Martins BA Textile Design graduates, Anna Schlimm and Georgia Fleck. Contributing to the company’s strong visual direction, Schlimm was also commissioned to produce the brand logo. For our graduates, this project not only showcases their design skills, it also gives them a direct opportunity to engage with the possibilities of the product market. In a unique, employee-ownership framework, they are also able to retain an enduring part in something they helped created, as on top of their sale royalties, they have been given shares in the company.

Project Sweat was a great initiative to be involved with as it gave me my first taster of working on a professional brief. It was very interesting to see the project go from an initial idea to a finished product and to work with David so closely in perfecting the concept, print designs and bag silhouette. I think the finished product looks amazing and it’s for such a worthy cause. I’m very proud to be a part of this project.” – Georgia Fleck

Project_Sweat, Farago Design, 2018. Photo: Copyright Project_Sweat

More than a straightforward product for use, the Project_Sweat initiative has a strong focus on encouraging women through design-led education. 25% of its profits are channelled into the Central Saint Martins Hardship Fund, in order to help students receive the training and support they need. An additional 25% is donated to Pathways for Promise – an initiative of the Asian University for Women, which provides free education to high-potential Bangladeshi garment factory workers. It is the first programme of its kind, offering full scholarships to exceptional female workers to earn Bachelor’s degrees, provide skills and knowledge and increase work opportunities. Alongside creating designs for commercial products, Project_Sweat also gave our graduates the chance to work on a sustainable, socially-engaged enterprise. As Schlimm comments “This has the potential to evolve into a great project that gives emerging designers a chance to showcase their creativity and gain experience in working with a social enterprise. My hope is that it will encourage future graduates to embed a sense of social and environmental responsibility in their practice.”

Project_Sweat, Refraction Design, 2018. Photo: Copyright Project_Sweat

Project_Sweat is a social enterprise which demonstrates the creativity, innovation and values at the heart of Central Saint Martins’ role as a world leading creative institution. This collaboration has been a positive experience for all involved resulting in stunning prints on functional, limited edition bags. Recent textile graduates were given a creative and ethical challenge while gaining great insight into how to launch a start-up. Project_Sweat also creates a virtuous circle as bag sales help raise funds for the next generation of students in financial need.” – Marie McMillan Guy

Created with women in mind, designed by women and helping women across the world, Project­_Sweat is a circular economy of female skills, talent and opportunity. Through the act of solving a common, everyday problem, this collaborative enterprise brings together bespoke, quality design and educational tools which encourage creativity and exploration.

Project_Sweat is a collaboration with Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, formed by David Balhuizen, Marie MacMillan Guy and Monica Hundal, Joint Directors of Innovation and Business and with the guidance of Anne Marr, BA Textile Design Course Leader. You can purchase the Project_Sweat kit bags here. If you order the “Refraction” style and use code P_S10 you will receive £10 off your purchase.