Thought fashion's love affair with sustainability was a brief, fleeting moment? You might want to think again. Every year, more and more graduates gravitate towards the topic, diving headfirst into designing collections, platforms and magazines around the ever-timely matter. Supporting one fashion school's sustainable endeavours is H&M - who have partnered with Central Saint Martins for the first edition of their annual Sustainable Fashion & Journalism Awards, encouraging the next generation of fashion leaders to start the change they want to see in the world through a scholarship programme. The awards' arrival couldn't come at a better time, reflecting a zeitgeist that the Royal Academy of Arts' Summer Exhibition has also eagerly tapped into, (dedicating this year's annual showcase to climate change with a curation that includes over a whopping 1,000 works).
Born from a need for more solutions to the fashion industry's biggest hurdles, the joint venture has awarded four Central Saint Martins students for their innovative practices and approach to sustainability, equally praising their creativity, curiosity and resilience when it came to the subject. Armed with silent diligence that practised fairness from conception, those on the judging panel made sure the scholarships offered went to the most deserving students, also partaking in H&M's ongoing Equity, Diversity and Inclusion work, as well as Central Saint Martins Widening Participation policy. Helping each winner to grow their networking opportunities post graduating, the award and grant also comes with the chance for the chosen graduates to see their collections and projects showcased in H&M's Oxford Circus store window during August and September.
A host of industry experts made up the event's judging panel, including Central Saint Martins course leaders Sarah Gresty and Philip Clarke, author, journalist, editor (and former Fashion Journalism pathway leader at the prestigious university) Judith Watt and H&M's communications specialist and press officer Josh Woodend. Winners included Fashion Journalism student Ella Dewberry with her futuristic AI-led platform Plexa, Fashion Design students Daniel Fabara and Max Brewer with their collections ANAKULL and Angels and Menswear student Ciaran Griffiths with his collection rooted in queer culture.
Commenting on the importance of pushing for a circular economy and the role that journalism plays within it, Watt commented, 'It has been fantastic to engage with H&M UK from the very start, and so important in terms of fostering young journalistic talent. This project with H&M UK is so encouraging because it demonstrates an understanding of the importance of informed, specialist fashion journalists in the field of climate change and the circular economy'. Woodend added, 'As we look to the future, we hope the H&M Sustainable Fashion & Journalism Awards continue to recognise and reward those who dare to innovate, think-big, and accelerate the shift to circular fashion.'
Although this summer marks a first for the annual award, the partnership hopes to grow with fashion's increasing desire to help the planet. This summer, we witnessed record-breaking temperatures reaching new heights of 42'C - all of which happened in a city specifically designed to withstand the cold and keep heat in, not out. Although this may not feel normal, experts are warning that the worse is yet to come, meaning before long, the dreaded temperature we all experienced last week will feel like a breeze. In what can only be described as a retro-futurist movie where wildfires cursed the suburbs of East London (no, but really), it's never been more important to act fast - saving the planet from the furiously hot future that scientists predict awaits us; a message that stands loud and clear in the work of these four students, setting a precedent for future graduates to take inspiration from.