The young British designer unveils her SS21 collection and highlights that people and the planet must come before profit


By Darcey Sergison / 3 October 2020

Fashion week still went ahead this season, with multiple changes in place to ensure everyone’s safety. In place of catwalks with the press all squashed on one bench to catch the best viewpoint, fashion films saw LFW go almost entirely digital.

With this season being my first covering reviews for the entire week, it seemed odd to watch all the presentations from the comfort of my own home. Other than a few appointments in person, much of my time this LFW was spent with a cup of coffee at my desk. After the first day of shows, it soon became apparent that fashion films would be the staple of the week Brands made the most of the opportunity to showcase their creativity through digital methods, with interpretive dance a standard backdrop for the films. As many shows blurred into one, I hoped that this would be a chance for smaller creators to stand out in a sea of well-known brands.

The collection by Bethany Williams, by far, was one of the most outstanding fashion films presented during SS21. The designer presented a collection titled ‘All Our Children’, displaying an evident passion for social and environmental justice. With a loud colour palette defined by patterns similar to that of modern art, the collection was the culmination of months of creativity uninhibited by lockdown.

The significance of family was also apparent in the artistic display of portraits through the film.

The film included portraits of families supported by the Magpie Project, mostly with mothers and their children, which emphasised the importance of family during tough times such as the pandemic.  Spoken word by artist Eno Mfon provided the soundtrack, making it clear that Williams wanted to highlight her brand and ethos. The opening lines of the film discuss basing judgement on children’s ‘postcodes and the place their grandfather called home’, highlighting how deep-set prejudice within society is. Mfon goes on to narrate the central idea of raising a child and how ‘they say it takes a village to raise a child, but do they know that child could one day raise their village’. This eludes to the environmental change children will implement with protest beginning from children and the huge impact this can have on the world. Putting the planet and people first has always been straightforward for Bethany Williams.

Williams has supported multiple charities since her brand’s launch in 2017, but chose to focus on the Magpie Project’s work this season. In her interview with Vogue, she emphasised the importance of charity, especially in the context of a global pandemic. “Covid has really highlighted the cracks in the system,” Williams told Vogue via Zoom, adding that, as with last season, 20% of profits from the collection will go to her chosen charity.

The Magpie Project provides a safe and fun place for mums and under-fives suffering in temporary or insecure accommodation. Aiming to prevent future damage to currently homeless children’s lives, this project provides support in the form of play spaces for children and legal advice for mothers in need of help. The Project is based in Newham, which has record high numbers of people in temporary accommodation, child poverty rates, and homeless referrals. Bethany Williams wove the Magpie Project into the very fabric of her latest collection, with Melissa Kitty Jarram, the artist behind the prints for her collections, hosting digital drawing workshops with the mothers and children, supported by The Magpie Project, during lockdown.

Additionally, Williams was busy creating her collection for SS21 and wanted to meet the need for PPE.

Along with two other British designers, Williams launched the Emergency Designer Network in April. “We were all getting requests from different hospitals and personally from friends who are NHS workers,” Williams explained to Vogue. “We’re working with 40 NHS trusts and 150 makers.” Rather than making declarations about the importance of social justice, Williams shows these statements in practice. Her charity work is a standard that other companies should aim to achieve. Even as a smaller brand, Bethany Williams sets a standard for larger brands and shows that they must meet the needs of not only the people they supply, but also society in general.

This season’s collection not only encourages social justice but also suggests the importance of environmental change.

‘All Our Children’ demonstrates the need for our generation to take care and make changes in order to protect the environment for future generations. Williams uses deadstock throughout her collections to promote limited waste production. The wool is sourced from Italian mills that would otherwise partake in the throw-away culture of modern society. Williams also uses recycled Adidas pieces, via Stuffstr, within her collections, telling Dazed that “[Adidas and her brand] are both aligned in our vision and passion for sustainability in fashion, and finding creative ways to bring this together now and into the future.”

Bethany Williams’ collection for SS21 is by far one of the highlights of my first digital fashion week. Breaking the moulds of what we have come to expect from designers, Williams goes beyond most to take her brand ethos further and support and enact change in society. Proving that COVID-19 does not have to be a creative block, this latest collection is incredible and demonstrates an important message. I urge you to support young talent such as Bethany Williams and understand the true values behind the clothes you invest in.

Words by
Darcey sergison

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