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Derry designers to champion ‘ethical fashion’ at UK’s largest tradeshow

23 January 2019

Sustainability, fair trade, and a low carbon footprint are all at the forefront of the thinking behind the collections of ‘Derry Design Brands’ who will be exhibiting at Pure London on 10–12th February 2019.

5 of the 8 designers who have won the opportunity to attend the largest event in the UK’s fashion and textile industry calendar, will be showcasing their collections in the highly publicised ‘Pure Conscious’ section of the tradeshow – a sector devoted to ethical fashion which promotes sustainable brands and provides a platform for new and emerging ethical designers.

The winning designers pitched for the opportunity to showcase at Pure London in a Dragon’s Den-style pitching event at the Inner City Trust’s Fashion and Textile Design Centre on 14th December 2018. The event is a collaboration between the Fashion & Textile Design Centre and Derry City and Strabane District Council’s Designer Enterprise Programme aimed at supporting emerging fashion and textile talent within the North West and successfully bringing them to wider markets.

5 of the winning designers / brands from Derry and Strabane who will be exhibiting at ‘Pure Conscious’ – Bridie Mullin Irish Linen, Heterogenous,  Valerie Taylor, Ona by Agne and Alan Creswell – can confidently tick all of the boxes when it comes to sustainable practices.

Whist the remaining 3 designers / brands will showcase in the ‘Gen Z’ section at  Pure London – an area better placed for their younger, contemporary fashion brands – they nevertheless have sustainability in mind when it comes to the design, print and make of their clothes by using only local suppliers.

Indeed, sustainability is currently a hot topic within all areas of the fashion industry – and it’s not likely to lose momentum, with many retail leaders signing up to SCAP – the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan – with targets set for 2020. Statistics from the WRAP website (Waste & Resources Action Programme) which champion the programme show that:

  • In the UK alone, 300,000 tonnes of clothing are estimated to be landfilled each year
  • Globally, it is estimated that 100 billion garments are produced a year and 20 billion shoes
  • The sector currently accounts for 10% of global carbon emissions
  • Clothing is only the 8th largest sector in terms of household spend, however, it is the 4th largest in environmental impact

All eight of the Derry & Strabane designers / brands showcasing at Pure London can guarantee to customers that a healthy percentage of their bulk production will be made in local factories, which contributes to the reduction of carbon emissions – including any printing and embroidery used within their ranges.

The exhibiting designers / brands also hail from an area with a world famous fashion and design heritage.  Indeed, in the 19th century, Derry was built upon the fashion and textile trade – and in its heyday was recognised as the ‘shirt-making capital of the world’.

In the 20th century, it was home to one of the biggest manufacturing hubs in the UK – making some of the finest shirts for companies globally. Like many other textile cities in the UK, the industry went into decline, when companies decided to move to ‘off shore’ production in the pursuit of cheaper labour and production costs.

Deirdre Williams, Business Development Manager with the Inner City Trust’s Fashion & Textile Design Centre, explained: “The North West of Ireland is still home to many great production facilities – both for textiles and garments. Our new, emerging designers and brands value this history and guaranteed assurance of quality – and by supporting the industry that remains, are paving the way for a more environmentally-friendly and sustainable future.

“All of the them hope to come away from Pure London with the possibility of orders from UK and global stockists for the coming AW19 season and as a result, new and long-lasting relationships with buyers – both in the UK and further afield. They are also keen to be recognised as commercial brands who are taking the environmental impact of the fashion industry seriously and are in a position to be at the forefront of credible, sustainable production.

“As the emerging designers / brands grow in scale, they will also be helping to put Derry back on the map when it comes to proudly displaying the skills and quality of manufacturing that still exist – and hopefully encourage a new generation of employment within the local industry!”

Danielle McNally, Business Officer with Derry City and Strabane District Council said: “I’m really delighted that our local designers are championing ‘ethical fashion’ at this year’s Pure London – and are sourcing and manufacturing clothes in a way that benefits people and communities while minimising their impact on the environment.

“Exhibiting in the ‘Pure Conscious’ and ‘Gen Z’ sections of the tradeshow will give them an invaluable profile boost by presenting them to an international audience during one of the most important weeks of the fashion calendar.

“It really is a fantastic opportunity to showcase their brands and promote Derry for its sustainability and great style!”