The winners for the Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion 2018 were announced at the Kering London HQ last week. In total five LCF students were awards prizes from Alexander McQueen and jewellery brand Pomellato. The awards are open to all final year BA students and all MA students at LCF – details for the 2019 programme with Gucci are here. We caught up with two of the winners to hear about their thoughts on sustainability and fashion.

Hanna Moser – winner of Kering Award for Sustainable Fashion for Collaboration for Pomellato. Hanna studied MA Fashion Retail Management and was joint winner with Tiphaine Pippet (MA Fashion Media Production). Their project focussed on utilising blockchain technology for greater transparency in the jewellery sector, while communicating this through a consumer-centred augmented reality app which engaged customers into the story of their product.

What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

Sustainable fashion means for me that every product is produced without any negative impact on the environment and any harming of people or animals in the world, especially in third world countries. Therefore a sustainably sourced and produced product has a much higher value for me than any other piece of clothing since I know that it has been produced with a higher attention to detail and with care about the environment

How do you see the industry developing in the future? 

I think there is an urgent need for the fashion and jewellery industry to be more transparent internally within the company as well as externally for the consumer. Every single step throughout the supply chain processes, production and manufacturing needs to be accessible and open for everyone in order to control and regulate sustainable practices within the product journey. Too many crucial things are still going on in the fashion industry that harm our environment, exploit human beings and torture animals. When more people would be aware about this in detail I’m convinced that it would actually change a lot to the better. In the future more industry people will look into ways of making their supply chains more accessible and traceable for themselves as well as for the customer.

Hanna’s project focussed on the use of Blockchain for a more sustainable future, tell us your thoughts on Blockchain? 

During the research for my bachelor’s thesis on the topic sustainable luxury I came across early stage research on Blockchain technology used in supply chains and was really interested in it. Since then it crossed my way now and then in business paper articles but the first time I actually got engaged with it again in terms of fashion is in the beginning of my masters course at LCF. I visited a panel talk on technology used in fashion with amongst others Martine Jaarlgard, who used Blockchain technology successfully in one of her collections.

Since then I couldn’t stop reading on it and it fascinates me how fast researches on the topic evolved in the last couple of years. Even there are still some issues and barriers that need to be overcome, Blockchain technology is a promising tool for tracking the product journey securely throughout the supply chain and I’m curious about the potential of this method in fashion as well as jewellery supply chains.

My interest went so far that I’m currently writing my master’s thesis on the potential of Blockchain technology within jewellery supply chains and I’m more than happy to also conduct research on it for Pomellato within the Kering Awards. In my opinion Blockchain technology will be the future and it is necessary to build solid knowledge on it as soon as possible to be at the forefront of the industry.

What defines luxury for you?

For me a true luxury product needs to be produced under fair and sustainable conditions. When I buy for example an expensive bag or a piece of jewellery I want to know exactly where the raw materials are from and who worked on it. Most of the luxury brands communicate craftsmanship and heritage in-house, but where is the raw material from and who worked on it before it came to the brand? These are questions that need to clear on in order to make it a real luxury product. In my opinion sustainable production needs to be at the core of the business model of every luxury brand.

Apart from that luxury means to me to spend as much time as I can with my family even if I live far away from them at the moment. There is no greater luxury than knowing all of them are healthy and happy.

Aniela Fidler, Winner for Innovation for Alexander McQueen. Aniela was studying a BA in BA(Hons) Cordwainers Footwear: Product Design & Innovation during the awards, she is now an MA student on Fashion Futures. Aniela’s project explored how to empower local Indian communities through reusing electronic waste as a material for heritage craft for McQueen.

What does sustainable fashion mean to you?

To me sustainable fashion has a number of meanings. Firstly, it is not fashion as such but more of an attitude and design philosophy. It is an ambitious, broad minded practice backed by common sense and based on restless improvement. It is being compassionate and proactive whilst curious and humble enough to learn from mistakes. In a trade sense “sustainable fashion” is an industry which is not afraid to revise itself and looks at obstacles as if they were the way to progress into “better” without worrying about creating “more”. It is also an education system which provides tools for a consumer to create a balanced relationship between resources and demand. It is a natural consequence of good practice.

How did your idea for your project develop?

Development was part of the hands-on process. I gradually explored possibilities within ‘end of life’ electronic goods and different applications of materials that I found on the way. I was mining electronic waste streams whilst simultaneously researching traditional embroidery techniques; trying to find methods to connect both in the most effective way. I think waste is just a bizarre social construct. It doesn’t exist in objective reality, there is no waste in nature. It is a result of human interaction and exists because humans agree that it exists. I find this classification and our full control over it, despite of its intrinsic value, truly fascinating. My aim is to challenge the perception of waste and prove how mistaken we are.

Where were you when you first had the idea?

I was checking Kees van der Graaf for Alexander McQueen at the Givenchy 1999 collection. Their body-suit with bright LEDs on transparent armour and other electronic elements used on the garments made me realise one simple thing: I was researching the box full of beads that happened to be assembled in the way that I can call them ‘my computer’.

How did you approach design previously?

My previous work was more linear, with a clear beginning and finish manifested by the product. I tended to be so attached to the outcome that it blocked my imagination. Now, when I don’t consider objects as the ultimate goal, I have space to wander; I’m more aware of continuity, different aspects of sourcing and post-consumer material streams. Limitations such as start or end cease to apply and I can more freely explore possibilities. What hasn’t changed is my appreciation for refined craft. I began my career in fashion as a shoemaker what made me realise how important is to acknowledge complexity of objects which we tend to take for granted. Consequently daily confrontation with hazardous substances like adhesives, provoked me to think about the different processes involved across garment production. Since then I look for the ways to improve.

What defines luxury for you?

Luxury is very complicated construct. It includes objects which prove a remarkable investment in time and skill but also projects which review cultural contexts, material, social and economic values with the aim to create desire. A well managed idea of luxury can be used as very powerful tool to shift human behaviour. It is defined by being limited but can have phenomenal influencing capabilities. I see it as an opportunity to re-identify standards in fashion and set up new aspiration goals for consumers and the whole industry.