Bethany Williams: From Grassroots to High Fashion
Despite only founding her brand in 2017, the 30-year-old menswear designer has already made quite a name for herself and has proved to be an unstoppable force within the world of sustainable and ethical fashion. While sustainability has become a buzzword of sorts within the industry, Bethany is distinguishable by her unparalleled commitment to effecting social change within society. Although she shows at Men’s Fashion Week, she considers her clothes to be unisex and actively participates in the growing fluidity of clothing categories.
In a fusion of fashion and activism, Bethany altruistically uses her talent to pave the way for a more compassionate and inclusive future. Every collection is inspired by and created in collaboration with a charity, which is then manufactured using only recycled, upcycled and organic materials. Bethany leverages her brand in service of our community’s most valuable and marginalised members, and this brand foundation proves time and time again that Bethany is more than just a fashion designer.
Her most recent AW20 collection highlighted just how effectively her design skills aid her social activism. Bethany collaborated with The Magpie Project, a grassroots organisation for women and children who have been deemed NRPF. No Recourse to Public Funds is a condition imposed due to a person’s immigration status, making them unable to work, study or move. This show ultimately gave a community that is marginalised and silenced a platform and voice to have their stories heard. No Recourse to Public Funds was also the label of the AW20 collection; Bethany refuses to shy away from the chilling reality many mothers and children face, in an attempt to enlighten the public and the high-fashion realm of these issues.
Initially, a world of living on £34 a week, and of infested and unfit accommodation may seem a million miles aware from menswear. Yet, the show offered hope, opportunity and community by placing the ideals of nurture, comfort and shelter at the forefront of her designs. Bethany hoped to convey the nurturing bond between mother and child, alongside an uplifting element of ingenuous child’s play, to emotively translate the essence of The Magpie Project’s work through her garments. The designs embodied the nature of childhood with materials like quilting, patchwork, recycled bedding and felting to create an element of comfort associated with children and the warm relationship they have with their mothers.
The show was in partnership with Adidas Originals, as part of their ongoing support for her brand. Both Adidas and Bethany share similar values, with a passion for design and sustainability. The recent LFWM marked the anniversary of the iconic Adidas Superstar, and in commemoration of this, Bethany’s models wore upcycled Adidas Superstars, donated through the new Adidas Infinite Play Initiative. Adidas have created this platform to encourage people to trade in their old clothes, shoes and accessories, as opposed to throwing them away. This service aims to prevent waste from reaching our oceans, and everyone who gets involved will be rewarded with an Adidas eGift Card.
Lately, Bethany has been rallying fashion against COVID-19. She is now the leading lady in a wave of designers pushing the fashion industry to do their bit during this global pandemic, by encouraging fellow designers to make masks and gowns for the NHS. What makes Bethany all the more inspiring, is that it didn’t take an international disaster for her to take a wholesome approach to fashion.
In all, Bethany has created a space that allows for the most unlikely pair – high fashion and grassroots community projects – to come together to make a change.
Take a look at her AW20 collection below.