Hainsworth X MMUFDT: Slow Fashion – 2022/23 Live Brief Competition

7th June 2023

“Slow fashion is about designing, producing, consuming, and living better. Slow fashion is not time-based but quality-based (which has some time components). Slow is not the opposite of fast – there is no dualism – but a different approach in which designers, buyers, retailers, and consumers are more aware of the impacts of products on workers, communities, and ecosystems.”

Kate Fletcher, Fashion and sustainability pioneer, design activist, writer, nature enthusiast, research professor

The Slow Fashion Movement: A Shift Away From Fast Fashion

Fast fashion is an industry that produces mass-produced clothing at an alarming rate, using inexpensive materials and labour to churn out the latest fashion trends that are thrown away as quickly as they are produced. However, the slow fashion movement is challenging this trend by promoting a more sustainable and mindful approach to dressing. Many are now realising the negative impacts that fast fashion has on the environment and are seeking to make more informed choices.

To Hainsworth, slow fashion is about the entire supply chain, from fibre to the consumer, making the conscious decision to design, manufacture and consume fashion in a way that connects environmental, ethical and social responsibility and results in beautiful, well-made garments that last. Garments that bring true pleasure through their quality and thoughtful manufacture and that remain in wardrobes as classic wearable staples for generations.

For our 22/23 Live Brief competition, we challenged a new generation of designers to create a garment that embodies slow fashion and offered a £500 prize. Fashion Design and Technology students at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) were tasked with considering various elements of slow fashion, such as waste reduction, use of natural materials, quality craftsmanship, style over trend, functionality, and garment longevity.

In May 2023, we had the opportunity to travel to Manchester to judge the final garments. The incredible pieces on display are a testament to the exceptional skills, imagination and talent showcased at MMU. Keep reading to learn more about this year’s impressive entrants…

Amelia Bush‘s ‘Future Nostalgia’ inspired garment, made of Black Doeskin, was designed as a “hybridisation between craftsmanship and technological innovation in fashion”. 

Bailey Warburton  conducted an “investigation into women’s wardrobes to establish the true timeless pieces of each wearer”. For his final garment, he created a stunning gown made of Charcoal Melange Melton. 

Charlotte Braddock‘s project was an “exploration of timelessness, contrasting the military heritage and classic tailoring Hainsworth is historically renowned for, with the ideas of anti-fashion pioneered by Rei Kawakubo and 90s era Commes Des Garcons”. 

Emily Jayne Read‘s project was based on freedom; “freedom within the military, freedom within art, and freedom within women, with a focus on the evolution of LGBTQ+ in the military”.

Max Grimshaw took inspiration from British pub culture and developed his final design using shapes drawn from his primary research, also trialling spinach dying as a natural dying process. 

Wiki Nicieja  celebrated her Polish heritage with her design, “embarking on a voyage of self-discovery”. In this partnership, Wiki “wove together the timeless elegance of Polish heritage with the renowned expertise of textile craftsmanship, giving life to designs that are both deeply personal and universally resonant”. 

Rachel Humphreys‘ design perfectly encapsulated the essence of transeasonality, nailing the slow fashion element of the brief. Her collection featured classic styles transformed into timeless pieces. The considered use of wool as a key fabric ensured durability, longevity, and biodegradability. Moreover, her garment incorporated adaptable and changeable elements, allowing for various styling possibilities. Thus, we are delighted to present Rachel with a ‘special recognition award’ for her efforts. She will be receiving a prize of up to £200 worth of Hainsworth fabric of her choosing.

Though all these garments were designed and finished to a high standard,  our chosen winner for 2022/23 is Stacy Chan. Stacy’s collection took inspiration from her Chinese heritage. It was “based on style over trend where the garments intend to be passed down through generations”. 

Stacy’s final garment paired Hainsworth Jade cloth from the Vivid Hues Melton range with a silk lining, as part of a timeless collection. 

Stacy said, “I am incredibly happy for being chosen as the best in class, I know how hard it was to make a choice. Everyone put all their hard work in to present their best work. This project has been my favourite one so far and being able to see my hard work paid off is very pleasant”.

Stacy’s garment really stood out to us. Her beautiful final garment was complimented by her research which drew inspiration from her heritage. The symbolism behind the sublimation print tells a story of longevity, while the Chinese knot buttons, handmade with care, represent rich heritage and skilled craftsmanship.

Charlotte Law, Marketing Manager at AW Hainsworth

Thanks to each and every student who participated in the project, and also to course tutor Adrian Thornton for facilitating the project. It was a delight to work with MMUFDT once again.