Since launching her brand in 2017, UK designer Bethany Williams has become known for her environmentally and socially cognizant attitude towards fashion. With her SS21 collection “All Our Children” the designer did not disappoint, continuing her award-winning and respected approach towards creating fashion which attempts to drive social change and is environmentally sustainable.
Collaborating with London-based charity Magpie Project, Williams’ SS21 collection brings to light women and children of immigrant backgrounds who are currently at risk of and/or are presently dealing with homelessness. The majority of the women and children modelling in Williams’ lookbook have been denied access to the UK’s welfare system due to their immigration status, which in turn means they have no access to healthcare. Williams strives to help bring much-needed attention to this issue and donates 20% of the profits made from this collection the Magpie Project.
Williams has worked with Magpie Project before, her collections often interlaced with charitable causes. Her Autumn-Winter collection which debuted January 2020 celebrated motherhood, childhood and powerful bonds. “From materials to models, communications to collaborators… every decision she makes is run through her own ethical framework” said the charity on its website.
This year, Williams also worked with a photographer and filmmaker on NGBA’s radar — Ruth Ossai. Ossai has become known for combining her Nigerian heritage and British upbringing to create photography often inspired by Nollywood and for shooting stars like Michaela Coel and Erykah Badu.
Ossai’s video features shots of five families in Williams’ garments. The colorful prints on the collections corsets, jackets, tops and trousers can be attributed to the mothers and their children. Over the course of the lockdown, Williams held a series of digital drawing workshops with some of those receiving help from the Magpie Project. Illustrator and friend Melissa Kitty Jarram then created textile print from the artworks made.
The fabrics itself, says Williams to Vogue are all second-hand, including, “white vintage bedding that we asked our sorters to find; these knits are patchworked together with crochet from reclaimed sweaters. The canvas jeans are made from bell tents; the corsets are made of fruit packaging waste by Rosie Evans.”
Williams’ conscious and caring practices demonstrates the potential fashion has to be a positive force for change. Despite only starting her label three years ago, she has become front-runner in the sustainable fashion movement, while consistently championing inclusivity and providing a platform for those often left without voices.