Bethany Williams: Menswear In Search of Social Change

11.01.2018 | Culture , Fashion | BY:

When one thinks of Bethany Williams’ brand, it is not necessarily within the confines of fashion. Encompassing sociological issues, political arenas and cultural quarters, to talk about Bethany merely within the limitations of fashion would be doing the brand an injustice.

Having released her brand less than two years ago, Bethany Williams has been constructing menswear that is embedded within charities and communities, hoping to cause a real effect in the social space we engage with. Working with the charities San Patrignano and London College of Fashion, UAL’s Making for Change programme this season – two pioneering rehabilitative programmes which work closely with vulnerable women and supports their path to rehabilitation through equipping them with craftsmanship and manufacturing skills and qualifications – and the model agency TIH Models, a new modelling agency supporting youth in London affected by homelessness, Bethany’s points of reference and areas of focus lay a typically socially attuned and sustainably-led focus on her third collection to date.

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The menswear designer showcased at the DiscoveryLAB this London Fashion Week Men’s January 2018 through both a film created in collaboration with Crack Stevens entitled ‘Women of Change’ and the collection alongside, ‘Attenzione’.

The film is a poetic narrative that celebrates the strength of the communities of San Patrignano and Making for Change, and explores how fashion can incur social and environmental change. 

Throughout the film, the theme of ‘second chances’ was explored, drawing parallels between the second chance given to the discarded materials from which Bethany created the fabrics at San Patrignano, and the second chance given to the women involved in both of these innovative programmes.  

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Through these social responsibilities that carry through the ethos of the brand, Bethany showcased a range that was less collection and more collective: shaped by the communities and charities involved, culminating in a selection of looks that tied together as a diverse multimedia display.

The presentation held an atmosphere of steadfast serenity, the models standing straight and majestic under a strong and direct spotlight in their ensembles, allowing for the audience to inspect the techniques and the fabric. The music emanating from the film was disarmingly enveloping: you were welcomed into the space, relaxing your senses in order to explore the film presenting life in San Patrignano and the resulting work they have created with the Making For Change community, Chris Carney Collections (a recycling facility where Bethany’s raw materials are sourced) and cottage industry hand knitters on the Isle of Man.

Bethany’s clothes are more than clothes – they are supportive measures, they are projects in itself. The garment design is led by sociological injunction and followed up with design rationale: recycled fabrics and the focal charities leading the shape, texture and function.

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Speaking of her design process, Bethany notes: It always starts with the charity or community that I am working with, then it goes to the waste materials that I want to use, then it goes to the fabric and then from the fabric I work out the form: it is initially inspired by the charity I choose to work with from the start.

Bethany chooses to show one collection a year, due to the prolonged process involved in each collection, the level of external organisation and support expected, and the bespoke nature of the garments. Presenting around the London Fashion Week Men’s dates allows her to capitalise on audience, and frees up the year to focus on projects with various partners and institutions.

Sustainability is steadily growing as one of the key issues the fashion industry is choosing to address. Being a consultant and lecturer alongside her brand, Bethany has seen the approach others are taking: “I think sustainability has become such a big concern at the minute. I consult for bigger brands as well as doing my own projects, and companies are thinking about it, and thinking about the future. I work with Kering and they have their sustainability department and its massive. All kering brands also need to have a sustainability manager at your brand. They are looking at processes for luxury across the entire supply chain: people are really looking at it and thinking about the future.”

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There are things that can make the heart beat faster – we all have our own hit list – but for London Fashion Week Men’s what will be a focus moving forward is the celebration of brands that are looking at the picture that far exceeds the fashion frame: brands where integrity and social responsibility is one of their first salutations.

And what would Bethany like her brand to stand for? Through her delightfully positive, softly spoken lilt “creating a solution through innovation”.

A toast to that for the brand that’s in it.

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Amazing Grace, Wales Bonner’s greatest hits

05.01.2018 | Blog , Fashion | BY:

As London Fashion Week Mens kicks off, Twin offers a survey of the innovate designs from Grace Wales Bonner, the menswear designer who has the city smitten. And quite right, too. With her natural flair for 70s tailoring and exquisite eye for detail, the London designer riffs across the aesthetic spectrum of menswear –from studded cropped velvet jackets to pristine white, ethereal-feeling two pieces – always ensuring tightly executed and intelligent collections.

Whether she’s inspired by the streets of London and Dakar or the works of James Baldwin, Ralph Ellison and Marlon Riggs, Wales Bonner creates romance that’s steeped in historical and cultural context – her shows are often accompanied with a rich set of literary references, and she produced a 10,000 word dissertation as part of her final collection for Central Saint Martins, in spite of it not being mandatory.

A winner of the LVMH young designer prize, as well as receiving the award for emerging menswear designer at the British Fashion Awards in 2015, Grace is guaranteed to stir the hearts and minds of the industry this season – as a new year begins, take a chance to catch up on the best of Wales Bonner’s work to date so you’re all switched on for her show on Sunday.

Blue Duets, SS18

Wales Bonner, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Spring Summer In London

Wales Bonner, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Spring Summer In London

Wales Bonner, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Spring Summer In London

Wales Bonner, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Spring Summer In London

Wales Bonner, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Spring Summer In London

Wales Bonner, Fashion Show, Menswear Collection Spring Summer In London

Spirituals II, AW17

spirituals2-14

spirituals2-13

Ezekiel, SS17

ezekiel-3 ezekiel-7 ezekiel-22

Spirituals, AW16

spirituals-14 (1)

spirituals-10 (1)

Malik, SS16

Wales Bonner | photograph by Edward Quamby

Wales Bonner | photograph by Edward Quamby

Wales Bonner | photograph by Edward Quamby

Wales Bonner | photograph by Edward Quamby

Ebonomics, AW15

Wales Bonner | Photograph by Rachel Chandler

Wales Bonner | Photograph by Rachel Chandler

Wales Bonner | Photograph by Rachel Chandler

Wales Bonner | Photograph by Rachel Chandler

 

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