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Brands Rally Behind New Initiative That Gives Students Deadstock Fabric

The unused fabrics from leading U.K. fashion houses will be put to good use thanks to a new initiative by the British Fashion Council (BFC).

On Thursday, the Council announced the launch of the Student Fabric Initiative, a “collective community action” developed to provide deadstock or unwanted fabrics to fashion students across the U.K. while reducing waste across the industry.

In total, 24 brands have joined together to donate materials to fashion students at 33 colleges. The initiative will support students as they complete their BA Fashion degrees, while also helping colleges bring sustainability even closer to the heart of fashion education in the U.K.

The initiative’s ultimate ambition, BFC stated, is to create a simple and efficient way for brands and colleges to work together to provide practical support for future talent.

Brands taking part pf the initiative include: Asics, Barbour, Begg x Co, Bianca Saunders, Charlotte Knowles, Craig Green, David Koma, Gabriela Hearst, Halpern, Hamilton and Hare, Knitster LDN, Mackintosh, Natasha Zinko, Orlebar Brown, Paul Smith, Per Gotesson, Phoebe English, Preen by Thornton Bregazzi, Qasimi, River Island, Roksanda, Simone Rocha, Sunspel and Victoria Beckham.

Burberry will support the delivery of the material, and the initiative is supported by fashion critic Charlie Porter, with additional help from Matchesfashion, Fora and Cozette McCreery, according to BFC.

“This collective action is in response to the pandemic but will hopefully become a model for how designers and brands can give back in the years ahead, placing sustainability at the heart of U.K. fashion education,” Porter said.

Indeed, the global fashion industry is normalizing the use of deadstock in runway collections since the start of the pandemic.

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One of the strongest sustainable messages for the Spring/Summer ’21 season was exemplified by the vast display of material mixing and upcycled fabrics. A number of designers like Gabriela Hearst, Collina Strada and Preen by Thornton Bregazzi strayed away from virgin materials, instead opting for deadstock fabrics, most of which they sourced from previous collections, as their new upcycled medium.

Fashion search engine Tagwalk reported that 14.4 percent of S/S ’21 collections featured sustainable, upcycled or responsible products or ways of producing—213 percent more compared with F/W 20-21.

Making good use of deadstock fabrics in the name of circularity has been a priority for the Council. Through its Institute of Positive Fashion and Colleges Council, the BFC oversees the logistics of the fabric donation to students. The plan was initially piloted with Burberry earlier this year, which through ReBurberry Fabric made their own donation of fabric to colleges, allowing for the development of a centralized logistics process for donations. This, BFC stated, led to the creation of a blueprint for other brands and colleges to work together to provide practical support for future talent.

With the Student Fabric Initiative, however, the BFC can increase the volume and distribution of unwanted fabrics.

“One of the BFC’s priorities is to encourage the industry to move towards a circular fashion economy while supporting excellence in fashion design,” said Caroline Rush, BFC chief executive. “Being able to help students in need while managing to offset waste is an important example of the power of industry-wide collaboration.”