Slow Fashion X MMUFDT – Live Brief Competition

28th October 2021

The Slow Fashion movement is continuing to gain momentum. As consumers wake up to the negative impacts of fast fashion and brands look to slow down the constant churn of production, attitudes across the industry are changing for the better. Slow Fashion was at the heart of Hainsworth’s 20/21 live brief competition, challenging students at Manchester Metropolitan University to create a garment that embodied core principles of the movement.    

To Hainsworth, Slow Fashion is about the entire supply chain, from fibre to consumer, making the conscious decision to design, manufacture and consume fashion in a manner 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.

Hainsworth set annual live briefs and projects to give design students at universities across the country an opportunity to gain real-life experience of working to a client’s brief. Students gain practical and very valuable experience in presenting their garments, working with a client, and receiving feedback.

The 20/21 live brief was delivered to Fashion Design and Technology Students at Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) in late 2020, with students invited to take a virtual tour of the Hainsworth mill to learn about the fabric production process. Each student undertook their own additional research into Slow Fashion and the history of Hainsworth to inform and inspire their projects.

With the pandemic still at its peak, students had to work on their projects from home without access to the Universities’ resources, adding an additional challenge for them to negotiate. Submissions were made via video, with students presenting their design and development process alongside sample details and in some cases half scale versions of their final garments.


Jessica Murdoch

Jessica’s design philosophy is that clothing should be as individual as people are, with garments tailored to the wearer’s personality and lifestyle, as well as the body. Her idea was that the generic nature of clothing can leave a person with feelings of frustration and low self-esteem, with clothing worn once and thrown away quickly. Her collection combined casual loungewear with traditional workwear to meet the requirements of the ‘post-covid’ consumer.

Jessica said, “I thought that the competition was an extremely exciting opportunity, the brief was something I felt passionate about and therefore really enjoyed every aspect of my research and concept development.”

“For my final garment I used the merino wool from the Vivid Hues collection; this fabric was beautiful and worked perfectly for the realisation of my final design. I had never worked with such a high-quality fabric before and I loved how everything came together.”

Callum O’Neil

Callum was inspired by Hainsworth’s rich heritage which in turn motivated him to dig deeper into his own. His research focused on household objects within his mother’s home such as silhouette shapes from vases and light fittings. The resulting collection included garments designed to be passed down from one generation to the next.

Callum said, “The Hainsworth brief was an opportunity during unprecedented times to investigate and appreciate what really matters to me. The merging of family history and that of Hainsworth’s Heritage was really special and allowed for an outcome that was on brand for AW Hainsworth.

“Having had the opportunity to work with AW Hainsworth cloth and company, it has given me insight into the diverse heritage, the history of wool and the properties it takes to make a tailored garment. All of which have pushed my conceptual ideas into reality and lead to me becoming one of three finalists. I could not be more grateful for this opportunity.”

James Dolan

James’s design philosophy centred around high quality garments designed to last a lifetime, which don’t end up in landfill and contribute to pollution. His collection included minimalistic designs that focused on small details and accents to make each garment special yet elegant and flattering.

James said, “I have thoroughly enjoyed my time working on the Hainsworth live brief competition. It was extremely exciting working with such a respected company and high-quality fabric, whilst keeping to the requirements. By far the best wool I have ever used for a garment at my time at university and I cannot wait to incorporate it into my final collection for my outerwear in final year.”

Fast forward to October 2021 and Covid restrictions are easing. The University campus is able to accept visitors once again, and the Hainsworth judging panel travel to MMU for the final event.


Jessica Murdoch

Jessica’s comprehensive level of research and unique take on the brief impressed the Hainsworth judges. Her collection was positioned at the multi general consumer, favouring endless style over fads and trends. Garments were designed around a lifestyle, to be kept and worn to wear forever, at any age, aligning perfectly with Slow Fashion principles. The final garment had a classic silhouette with interesting details such as a cinched waist and sleeve ties.

Jessica said, “Winning this competition was an absolutely amazing feeling, it is so easy to doubt yourself on this course when you’re surrounded by so many amazing and talented people, so it was an extremely rewarding feeling to achieve something like this. Slow Fashion and sustainability are such an important aspect of fashion and as a young designer I know how important it is to think about these elements in every aspect of my practice. That makes this achievement even more special, and I feel extremely proud.”