De Montfort University Leicester’s (DMU) strong partnership with the city’s creative hub has led to valuable online exposure for innovative design students during COVID-19.
What is traditionally a physical exhibition hosted at the LCB Depot each year to coincide with Fashion Revolution Week, has been transformed into an online celebration of sustainable creations by local designers, as well as DMU students and graduates from Fashion Textile Design, Footwear Design, Fashion Buying with Design and Fashion Design.
Innovation in Sustainability – online until Friday 24 April – is releasing daily content on LCB Depot’s website and Instagram account over the course of three weeks. This includes studio tours and chats with Contour Fashion graduates Mollie Fullalove and Posie Upshall, and a zero-waste pattern cutting workshop with DMU’s Fashion Design lecturer Laura Dickinson.
Professor Carolyn Hardaker, Head of DMU’s School of Fashion and Textiles, said: “With the coronavirus pandemic disrupting showcasing opportunities for our students, this has been a key way to continue to promote and celebrate their creativity, innovation and technical expertise.
“The exhibition’s focus on sustainability is particularly important for us, as we’ve recently updated our curriculum in line with the United Nations’ 17 Sustainable Development Goals.”
Final-year Fashion Buying with Design student Abi Harris is showcasing her unisex kidswear collection, designed to educate three to nine-year-olds about plastic pollution in the ocean.
Her range of T-shirts, sweatshirts and hoodies are made of organic cotton jersey and incorporate positive messages such as ‘Be kind to our oceans’. She also used recycled denim for jeans and repurposed fastenings such as zips and buttons.
Abi said: “Getting online exposure is really helpful right now and proves that it’s worthwhile, as I’ve been contacted by BBC Radio Leicester to talk about my work on their breakfast show.”
Mollie Edge, a final-year Fashion Textile Design student, managed to produce her entire collection ‘without spending a penny’. Instead, she approached local factories who were more than happy to give her as much of their waste fabrics as she wanted.
Modelled on the biggest killer of marine life, Mollie’s experimental textile designs are a product of using different materials to replicate the structure of discarded fishing nets. Her collection combines modern techniques such as laser cutting with traditional ones like macramé.
She said: “I was so surprised to hear the exhibition was still going ahead. With what’s going on in the world right now, it feels good to be a part of something so positive and creative.
“It’s been a welcome acknowledgement and gentle push to keep me motivated during lockdown. As I’m graduating this summer, it’s also a great thing to add to my CV and portfolio.”
Second-year Fashion Design student Charlotte Cunningham is exhibiting a men’s trench coat that she made out of leather she upcycled from a local upholstery company.
“I didn’t know much about sustainability before coming to DMU but our tutors have taught us that being part of an industry that has a negative impact on the environment comes with a responsibility to innovate,” she said.
“Working with such thick fabric had its challenges, but I’m happy I could turn waste into something useable and that I got to learn new techniques along the way.
“Through this exhibition, the LCB Depot has helped us to reach a wider audience than we could have alone. It’s also been really beneficial to discover and connect with other local designers.”
Mollie Puzey, also a final-year Fashion Buying with Design student, designed an ethical range with high street brand Zara in mind. Her neutral and minimalist collection combines high fashion with wardrobe staples to help slow down the pace of the industry.
She said: “Having someone wanting to showcase my work at a time like this has been really uplifting. It’s motivated me to carry on working at the standard that I was before lockdown.”