“We are in need of solutions that go beyond greenwashing and empty eco-target pledges,” says Cathy Meyong. These designers know their stuff when it comes to sustainability. It’s no check box a tutor told them to tick, it is what makes the majority of the 2023 cohort excited to create. For them, fabrics are not just fabrics; they are plant-based fibres, carefully sourced antique lace, a result of yearly textile experiments, upcycled flags, or the handkerchiefs their grandmother gave them when they were ill as kids. Authenticity is not hidden in the aesthetics, it is in the sensibility in which these designers approach observing, living, and making. Finding value in small pleasures like being with each other, or hugging their family after the internal show.
Pushing traditional techniques to new, unexplored pathways is the drive that helped most of them out of the trauma that Covid isolation left behind. This class of designers spent their first two years of fashion school away in remote or hybrid learning, and almost of all them consider this period as the worst part of their education, which by the way was “extremely expensive” as they note in a critical tone. It can’t be a coincidence that so many of the 2023 graduates are inspired by spirituality, religious rituals, and nature. There is a collective urge for a more esoteric approach to fashion, but not in a “find your niche” kind of way. It feels more like an instinctive response to an oversaturated industry that is no longer capable of welcoming any more “good designers”.