This London Fashion Week, sustainable fashion designer Bethany Williams used her on-scheduled slot to share her new gender-neutral capsule coat collection, exclusively for Selfridges.
The short film was less of a fashion presentation, and more of a look at how the British designer works, with Williams personally introducing the collection and the inspiration behind the patchwork coats made from vintage and antique wool blankets sourced from across the UK.
Williams explains: “We’ve sourced vintage blankets all across the UK, and we’ve created bespoke coats that feature the blankets. We only work with organic or recycled materials, and we were really interested in taking these vintage textiles and making them into bespoke one off pieces.”
The capsule collection was inspired by Williams ongoing work with the Magpie Project, a charity that supports women and children under five in temporary accommodation and provides a blanket for every baby born into the Magpie family.
Williams added in the collection notes: “A blanket is so much more than a piece of fabric, it is a feeling of comfort and shelter and I wanted that feeling to be at the heart of this capsule collection.”
Bethany Williams upcycles blankets for new collection
The collection features blankets “carefully sourced” from vintage sellers, whether that’s antique markets or car boot sales. Williams says that each blanket sourced is steeped in history and “tells a story from the textile and weaving techniques, to the county, town or village it was made in”.
One of her favourite pieces sourced for the collection was found on a pitch-black frosty morning at Sunbury Antiques Market at Kempton Racecourse. With her phone touch as her only source of light, she came across “a rare and usually very expensive Welsh, patterned wool blanket with brightly coloured pink and orange patches”.
Williams has given each blanket a new lease of life using upcycling techniques and historical research into childrenswear from the V&A Museum of Childhood to create three different jacket styles.
Handcrafted in London, there are nine upcycled blanket coats available, and each garment was conceptualised by allocating a specific blanket to each style of jacket based on its weight, thickness and colour, explained Williams.
The blanket coats have been finished off with a 100 percent organic cotton lining, sourced from Wales, and handmade wooden buttons made by craftsman Spencer Martin from London Green Wood, a not-for-profit cooperative that uses Hackney grown wood or waste wood from local tree surgeons.
The capsule collection forms part of Selfridges sustainability initiative, Project Earth, which commits to putting sustainability in the heart of the business and reinventing the way we shop. 20 percent of the profits from this collection will be donated to The Magpie Project via The Bethany Williams Benevolent Fund, a fund set up by The Magpie Project and Bethany Williams London.
Jack Cassidy, head of menswear at Selfridges, said: “We are so thrilled to be continuing our partnership with Bethany Williams. Bethany joined the Selfridges menswear edit as part of our Bright New Things programme, and we are so excited to now be launching this collection straight from her LFW presentation. She was a clear choice to be included as one of our key Project Earth partners due to her innovative approach to sustainable and socially conscious work.”
Williams has accumulated numerous achievements and accolades from winning the Queen Elizabeth II Award for Design and being an LVMH Prize finalist in 2019, to receiving two Fashion Awards as Emerging Menswear Designer in 2019 and for her involvement in the Emergency Design Network initiative in 2020. This year, Williams is also a finalist for the International Woolmark Prize and the Vogue Fashion Fund.
Images: courtesy of Bethany Williams by photographer Tom Ivin