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Image / Style / Fashion

4 sustainably-minded British designers doing great things


By Sarah Finnan
22nd Nov 2022
4 sustainably-minded British designers doing great things

From a womenswear line specialising in petite fashion to a plant-based footwear brand and a collection inspired by witchcraft, Venus and the divine feminine; here are four (sustainably-minded) British designers to keep on your fashion radar.

Set to open a new campus and maker space centred on artisan design and craftsmanship in Brentford, the JCA | London Fashion Academy (Jimmy Choo Academy) has their eye on up-and-coming creative talent. 

Putting a focus on artisan crafts, design, and accessory making, the new academy endeavours to unearth and sculpt a new wave of creative talent. Set in a historic building in West London, the property will house everything from atelier workshops and design studios with specialist fabrication tools, to co-working and event spaces that double as craft market venues. 

Based on a simple subscription model and following in the footsteps of the JCA I London Fashion Academy’s incubator approach, the co-working studio spaces are designed to help the next generation of designers not only create products but also market them under the guidance of industry specialists. 

To support an array of artists, designers, and creative professionals, Boston Manor House will provide a space for the essential production of textiles, leather goods, woodwork, resins, metals, and gemstones. Through the process of training and mentorship, alongside accredited short courses, the Academy will create a space for industry innovators to develop the skills needed to turn their passion into a scalable and sustainable business.

Here we spoke to four recent MA fashion graduates about their first show collections and the inspiration behind their work. 

Annabelle Barton: Size-A

Size-A was set up in 2021 by Birmingham-born designer Annabelle Barton, during her Master’s degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design. Designed and manufactured in the UK, the brand aims to create luxury garments that last for life and can be styled in many different ways. Debuting the first six looks of her collection back in October, it was during her studies that Barton really developed the ideas for her line into a cohesive story; ensuring she had a ready-to-launch brand by graduation. 

Inspired by her own struggles to find appropriate clothing as a petite woman, Barton launched Size-A in the hopes of creating luxury designs that would fit a range of petite sizes. The first six looks of her collection pay tribute to her Irish heritage, also celebrating the nineties nostalgia of the post-pandemic era. Titled ‘Little Do They Know’, the collection uses a variety of fabrics, relying on a plethora of embroidery techniques to enhance symbols such as the Claddagh ring, the Dara knot and St Christopher’s pendant. Each look features adjustable hemlines and waistlines to ensure it is suitable for many different bodies and can offer a personalised fit to each individual wearer. 

Speaking of her first collection, Barton described her work as “innovative” and “creative”, “styled purposefully to enhance the ‘anti-fit’ look of Size-A”. “Every garment is exclusively for petite women like myself who have struggled to find a luxury brand that fits our personal requirements.’’

Melissa-Kate: For the Love of Venus PT.III

Melissa-Kate is the eponymous brand of 24-year-old designer Melissa-Kate. Established during her Master’s degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation, the idea is to bring self-love and confidence to the wearer through bespoke demi-couture pieces that adapt to each individual.

Debuting For the Love of Venus PT.III, the third capsule collection in a three-part year-long series, this autumn, the latest drop delves into the spirituality, symbolism and conspiracies behind the planet Venus with the brand’s dark romantic signature style always present in the background. 

In Melissa-Kate’s words, her label is “a world where the patriarchy doesn’t exist, influenced by the power of the divine feminine energy through witchcraft and pin-up style, handcrafted by a female for the feminine.” 

Combining the brand’s speciality in corsetry and draping, each garment is bespoke and handmade at Melissa-Kate’s own atelier where the designer uses leathers and satins to add a touch of seduction to her designs. 

Noon Khouri: Angels Wear Nada

Launched by Noon Khouri during her Master’s degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation, Angels Wear Nada is an inclusive brand that specialises in up-cycled denim. Aiming to transform one of the most polluting garments in the fashion industry into something more unifying, Khouri achieves this by bridging climate and social justice while offering fun pieces that empower every body type. 

Her first collection, an ode to London, its heritage and its people, showcased the brand in all its nomadic glory. “Angels Wear Nada is the new eco-friendly alternative, battling the issue of landfills, one garment at a time,” Khouri tells me. “Manufacturing denim is one of the most unsustainable practices in the fashion industry, but we pride ourselves on challenging societal norms.” 

Minimising her brand’s environmental impact and maintaining circularity are considered within every aspect of Khouri’s practice and her collection is made from 100% up-cycled materials with non-electroplated raw zinc alloy buttons, heat-dissolvable thread, Pinatex leather as Jacron labels and recyclable packaging. The brand is also size-inclusive and caters for a wide range of body types. 

Inspired by London but wanting to support struggling communities abroad, the first samples of the collection were produced in a factory in Punjab – an area heavily affected by electricity issues due to the floods – and Khouri kindly asks that customers also consider donating to the Islamic Relief Pakistan floods appeal, when possible.

Sophie Park: 777

A young plant-based footwear designer, Sophie Park came up with the concept for her self-titled brand during her Master’s degree in Fashion Entrepreneurship in Design and Brand Innovation. Inspired by her own experience of following a vegan lifestyle, Park’s passion for plant-based living married with her love of fashion – the result being an exciting range of innovative footwear designs in a range of new materials. 

Studying at the London College of Fashion before joining the first cohort of students at the JCA, her 777 collection offers sophisticated yet experimental designs without compromising the environment. Fusing whimsical Wes Anderson-esque symmetry with the ambiguous silhouettes often seen in the work of Rei Kawakubo, Park’s label pairs “stylistic originality with rigorous ethics”, at her own description. “It’s the perfect collection for fashion-forward individuals who not only reach for their classic go-to staple shoes but also enjoy adding an avant-garde edge to their style by customising their pieces.” 

Her collection 777 comprises three staple styles with a selection of unique, androgynous pieces that can be added on, giving the wearer two or more varying styles of shoes in one. The styles consist of a pump, a sandal and a bootie, all featuring the designer’s signature square toes and flared heels. Powerful and sophisticated thanks to an all-black colour scheme, sizes range from the smallest ‘women’s’ size to the largest ‘men’s’ size. 

Traditional animal leather is replaced with plant-based materials, significantly reducing each shoe’s carbon footprint as a result. According to Park, “if brands don’t make these changes going forward, they will fall behind.” In this collection, the designer has mainly focused on the use of cacti and looks to explore pineapple and seaweed-based materials for future styles.