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Graduate Spotlight: MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear student Bethany Williams

Graduate Spotlight: MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear student Bethany Williams
Graduate Spotlight: MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear student Bethany Williams
Graduate Spotlight: MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear student Bethany Williams
Written by
ssaggar
Published date
04 January 2018

Today we speak to MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear student Bethany Williams who tells us about her final collection which uses waste materials from food banks and recycled cardboard from Tesco. Bethany will be showcasing her collection live from Banking Hall on Friday 8th January.

Photography by Felix Cooper and styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen

Photography by Felix Cooper and styling by Anders Sølvsten Thomsen

Tell us about your final collection?

Through my practice I don’t just want to comment on a community, but work in their social spaces to try create a change through furthering economic gain for charity. By using social capital, intellectual and labour intensive skills we aim to create a profit, which will be given to connected charities, continuing the cycle of exchange. Through collaborations with communities and charities, we hope to create a collection embedded with real people and hope to create a real effect in the social space we engage with.

The current collection ‘Breadline’ particularly wants to highlight and help find solutions to the hidden hunger in the UK, specifically working along-side the Vauxhall Food Bank and Tesco to achieve this. I have developed an exchange of fresh fruit and vegetables (from Tesco) for waste items from the food banks users. I developed a collection using these waste materials,  plus recycled cardboard and ‘Tesco everyday value’ branded organic prints, all donated by Tesco. We will be donating 30% of profits to The Vauxhall Food Bank, continuing the cycle of exchange.

Through traditional hand crafted techniques and working with local craftsmen/women, we have developed the surface of these waste materials to create hand crafted woven, printed, knitted and embroidered materials. This exploration has lead to the development of a new fabric constructed from cardboard which is hand woven in the UK.

Every one of our garments is 100% sustainable and made in the UK, even down to the buttons which are hand-crafted in the Lake District from our collaborators own planting of trees. I am trying to provide an alternative system for fashion production, as I believe fashions’ reflection upon the world can create positive change.

Where did you study prior to your MA at LCF?

My family are very creative, caring and concerned about people and the environment, which has had a massive influence on my practice and how I view the world. Their views and beliefs have provided the foundations which my work is built upon. Before LCF, I studied BA Critical Fine Art Practice at Brighton University, which was amazing. The course gave me my interest in critical theory, which is the backbone of my work.

I’ve always been interested in fashion and art but as a student I found it very difficult to combine both disciplines. I chose a degree in Fine Art but always felt I had to justify the use of garments within my practice. Through the creation of my BA project ROOFLESS, I was able to combine all my interests and I know this is what I want to do with my life. Help people, create art and design clothes.

My BA course also introduced me to the way art practices provide alternative systems for today’s social structures and services, attempts to run against globalisation’s homogenising tendencies. Which lead me to the idea of altering the production and selling process I hope the buyer will question the existing process of commerce and see the available space for an alternative system.

Throughout and after my degree I worked at Garage magazine, which was an amazing experience. The publication is dedicated to collaboration between Art and Fashion and very conceptually lead. I found this experience invaluable and really helped my conceptual development.

Reflecting back on your MA what would be your top three tips to anyone thinking of doing an MA?

I would say be true to yourself, don’t feel that you should have to mould your work to fit a discipline or industry, the most interesting part of creativity is the cross over. So don’t worry about your background, just apply for the course.

Be open to collaboration, I have learnt so much from collaborators this year. It’s really helped push my work further than I could have done on my own.

The MA is very intense so I would say be prepared to give up your life for 18 months with lots of late nights but you will get through it!

Why did you choose MA Fashion Design Technology Menswear at LCF?

I believe that social and environmental issues go hand in hand – through exploring the connection between these issues we may find innovative design solutions to sustainability. I chose LCF due to its outstanding commitment and development towards sustainability, the university helped push my practice and help find these solutions. I am very proud and lucky to apart of such a forward thinking environment.

What have you found the most enjoyable parts of your course? And what have you found the most challenging?

I found the development of the concepts for the collection most enjoyable aspect of the course and being able to collaborate with so many amazing craftsmen and women within the UK, as they have really pushed my collection to the limits. However, it has been so rewarding, engaging with the practical elements of the course as my BA was very theoretical, I have really been able to push myself and develop my technical skills. Coming from a Fine Art background, I found this the most challenging aspect. However,  the technical support has been incredible, there are so many amazing people within LCF who are always willing to support and guide you. Without this support I wouldn’t have taken my work to the next level.

Also, as I have been developing new textiles, materials and working out how to make a fabric from cardboard has been really challenging and time consuming, but also fulfilling. The technicians were a great support on the textiles side of things.

What was your favourite thing about studying in London?

The buzz of London and the energy keeps you going when you are really busy and having to stay up all night! I love London and it’s full of so many amazing and interesting people that can question and push your work.

Have you won any prizes?

I have won several prizes during my BA at The University of Brighton which have massively helped financial support myself throughout the MA. I was awarded,  The University of Brighton Faculty of Arts Santander Award, The Nagoya University of Arts Highly Commended in Art and Design and The Second Year Scholarship in Art and Design.

Have you been in the media?

I have taken part in many exhibitions in London and Brighton and my work with Roofless has been featured in a range of articles and editorials including Garage Magazine, Italian Vogue, Vice Magazine, Style Bubble blog and Time Out.

Have you undertaken any work experience whilst at LCF?

I lived and worked in London for three years before my MA. Previously I worked within many different fields of the fashion and art industry such as assisting in galleries, styling, art direction, picture editing, fashion design and production. I really love areas where different disciplines meet and believe collaboration pushes the boundaries of fashion. I have learnt so much through working with Garage Magazine, Nasir Maszar, Mother of Pearl, Robert Storey Studio, Nike and running ROOFLESS.

I have found the course very intense, having little time for work experience except for my time at Ryan Lo’s studio assisting with garment construction and helping backstage during LFW. Additionally I’ve been working alongside the Design Museum during the Women Fashion Power exhibition. As a female designer, I’ve previously put on workshops to explain my design practice and how it obtains social interaction with communities. I worked alongside children aged 12-16 to help them explore and expand their ideas of fashion design, collaboration and garment construction, which was such a rewarding experience.

Can you give us a few words to describe your work

Sustainable

Innovative

Promoting Social Change

Engaging with Community

Hand Crafted

Do you have a muse? If so, who and why?

Jacques Rancière. He is a philosopher who discusses art’s ability within the world to create political and social change. I find his words extremely inspiring.

What are your future plans and how do you think the course will help you to realise these plans?

I’ve always dreamed of running my own brand that can help the environment and people. I’m hoping I will be given the platform to expand my reach with the press during and after the show. As I hope to continue providing an alternative system for fashion production, as we believe fashions’ reflection upon the world can create positive change. Additionally, I have been invited to show at Vancouver Fashion Week in March which is a very exciting opportunity.