• Text Sara Semic
  • 16th September 2019

Knowledge is power

Upon entering the warehouse-style basement in Marylebone in which Phoebe English’s SS20 collection was staged, guests were presented with the designer’s moodboard to pore over, which was used as the focal point of the set. Strewn with fabric swatches and notes detailing the sustainable processes and suppliers used, in lieu of paintings or cutouts of real-life muses from a bygone era, it set the tone for her most sustainable offering yet.

Since merging her men’s and women’s lines two seasons ago, the South London-based designer has used the extra time to hone her knowledge of sustainable practices and suppliers; information she now wants to share with others. “We just don’t think there’s any point in using them if you’re the only person using them, otherwise it’s futile,” English explained backstage. “It needs to become general practice across the industry. We cannot afford to wake up every day and be working in the same ways we were working yesterday.”

The resulting collection was a lesson in how to approach design as a problem-solving strategy, with each garment rendered in reclaimed, recycled or certified fabrics and fastened with buttons made from milk protein or natural corozo nut as opposed to plastic or animal products. Male models sported a utilitarian wardrobe consisting of waterproof jackets made from regenerated nylon and loose-fitting patchwork shirts and shorts hand-dyed with natural indigo, while nymph-like female models were draped in sheer organza dresses spliced with reclaimed offcuts in a monochromatic palette. Of particular note was a dress made from rolls of deadstock care labels that read ‘100% polyester, dry clean only’, intended to serve as a time capsule of English’s practices and improvements towards more sustainable collections.