By Conor Blessing

I attended a screening of “Fashion Reimagined” as I believed it would be a great inspiration as an aspiring sustainable fashion designer. The documentary presented the journey of a sustainable fashion brand to inspire fashion professionals while educating consumers about the poor standards set by contemporary fashion brands. In addition to fashion bodies like ACS Clothing, sustainable professors and students, non-fashion individuals were also in attendance as the film demonstrates critical insights into creating more ethical production models.

“Fashion Reimagined,” directed by Becky Hunter, documents how Mother of Pearl (MOP) Creative Director Amy Powney brought sustainability into the fashion industry with her ‘No Frills’ collection. After winning the BFC/Vogue Designer Fashion Fund, she announced to her team the new, sustainable direction she wanted to take using the prize money. She was met with a supportive, yet sceptical response. The film covered the eighteen months between this announcement and the presentation at the London Fashion Week (LFW). The majority of this focused on sourcing natural, traceable and cruelty-free fabrics over an eye-opening journey to form her own sustainable supply chain. This trying experience Powney went through was heart- breaking to watch as she questioned her future in fashion if the collection failed to gain interest. However, the collection received a great response at LFW and in the media, earning MOP its title as a sustainable fashion brand.

Sourcing ethical fabrics in the collection was, shockingly, the biggest challenge. After forming a personal contact with an ethical Portuguese wool farmer, Powney learnt that no weaver in Portugal could spin it due to restrictions meaning it had to be processed in China. In the industry, the supply chain could span across five countries before reaching consumers. This is a needlessly complex system adding excessive strain to the environment. A full industrial restructure needs to be carried out to reduce the carbon impact this chain creates.

The film recognises that fashion has become too fast to keep up with, leading to modern consumption outweighing that of the 1980’s threefold, only for garments to be disposed of within a year. The fashion industry must take action to help its consumers curb their purchasing habits. After the “No Frills” exhibition, Powney launched the #fashionourfuture pledge campaign to encourage consumers to make great changes to their consumption. For example, if given RENT GIRL, you will only rent clothes for a year. This gained a wide following on social media highlighting the potential routes the industry can take to reduce consumption.

Powney explained that fashion works to an average of four collections a year, with the high street launching one every week, at speeds she described as “complete nonsense.” To combat this, MOP shifted to producing at least two collections a year with “No Frills” acting as the core collection they will continue to produce. With the growing success of MOP with their new model, fashion brands must slow down new launches to reduce the amount of waste and consider longevity over quantity.