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Joao Maraschin wins Graduate Award at Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards

Person standing with knitted clothing on
  • Written byMalik Fields
  • Published date 16 March 2021
Person standing with knitted clothing on
Joao Maraschin 'Truth Fiction' 2021

MA Womenswear alumnus and resident of Poplar Works studio space, Joao Maraschin, has won the Graduate Award at Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards. The prize is an acknowledgement of the recipient's work to reduce the fashion industry’s impact on the environment. Joao prevailed against a strong shortlist, including George Adebola Adesegun (University for the Creative Arts), Harriet Slavin (University of Huddersfield), Alexandra Șipa, (Central Saint Martins) and Dominic Walsh (Edinburgh College of Art).

Ideas of inclusive, human focused design underpin Joao’s work. His self-titled brand aims to give back to local communities with mentorship initiatives and preserve traditional hand-crafted techniques. We caught up with him to find out more about winning this award and becoming a resident at Poplar Works.

Congratulations! How does it feel to have won the Graduate Award?

It is really exciting to have the work recognised by key sustainability leaders in the fashion industry. I feel honoured to be among many like-minded companies and fashion practitioners that put social and environmental responsibility at the front of their decision-making process and business development.

What do the Drapers Sustainable Fashion Awards represent to you?

It represents a recognition of the great work that I have been developing in collaboration with communities of artisans in Brazil and in the United Kingdom over the last two years. It definitely shows the importance to keep fostering positive impact through fashion for better lives. I am also delighted to be part of it because Drapers is a great reference in celebrating responsible practices as well as supporting innovation and encouraging change.

Your designs are such a clear demonstration of creativity, combined with social and environmental responsibility. Why do you think it’s important for designers to show responsibility in their practice in 2021?

Sustainability is absolutely not negotiable, and it is our responsibility as professionals but also as global citizens to design new systems to promote positive change that manages our social impact and environmental footprint. Acting sustainably must go beyond restating the problem toward deep re-prioritising that puts the Earth and its boundaries above conventional market logic. The future is only possible by supporting respectful connections and finding solutions for the climate emergency.

'Truth Fiction'

Tell us about your shiny new studio at Poplar Works! How are you finding it?

Poplar Works is a great place and a flourishing community of creatives. The opportunities of collaboration and network are incredible. I am really happy to be there, and it is the perfect space with all the facilities and resources I need to keep building my brand.

How are you finding working in a studio surrounded by so many other creative and like-minded designers?

The unique partnership between London College of Fashion, Poplar Harca and The Trampery has definitely provided great opportunities to widen network and collaboration at Poplar Works. Despite the dramatic times we are all living in, the sense of community there has played an important role of support. They are creating an ecosystem of responsible businesses that helps every practitioner to develop in full capacity as much as it has a direct positive impact in the local community.

What else has Poplar Works been able to provide you with?

I am participating of the Sustainable Fashion Accelerator by the Trampery. I’m in contact with the Making for Change unit run at Poplar Works for manufacturing. Being at Poplar Works has also opened up to various different possibilities of exchange with other businesses as well as to a wide range of training resources that are constantly provided to support the brand.

What are your general thoughts whilst looking ahead to 2021 and beyond?

I feel very hopeful and excited for what there is yet to come. I think the most important thing for me is to keep fostering positive impact through my work. We can get much further when we work in community and with the public. And more than never, collaboration is such a vital element to create innovative and forward-thinking solutions for both global and local challenges.

How do you see fashion and designers making a comeback from the events of 2020?

Collaboration is the answer and creativity will flourish in many different ways across the industry. The sense of community will play an important role in bringing people together to overcome the challenges. I think we are going to see many new collaborative partnerships being born as well as individuals and companies working closely for a more much responsible future.