LONDON, UK — This spring, the Design Museum presents “Bethany Wiliams: Alternative Systems,” a celebration of a new model for the fashion industry proposed by the studio’s work. Opened last February, this dedicated display explores the way in which Bethany’s work confronts social and environmental issues through community collaboration and a spirit of reuse.
Exhibited across the four walls of the balcony gallery in the museum’s atrium, the display is part of the “Designers Thinking in Public” program. Expressing Bethany’s approach to design, it presents the story of her innovative process as a designer through garments, textile samples, archive material, photography, and film footage. Visitors will also have the chance to touch sample fabrics that have been made by repurposing waste.
Whether it is by using waste ribbon to create woven fabrics, telling the stories of partnered charities through print design or constructing garments in collaboration with rehabilitation programs, discover how activism and the environment are at the heart of each project.
“With our work, we hope to continue to reach new audiences, encourage inclusivity and positive change for the fashion industry,” Bethany said.
“The Design Museum continues to be aligned with this via the exhibitions curated, including their Waste Age exhibition, which we featured in last year. We are so proud to showcase our new exhibition: Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems, a celebration of the new way of working proposed for the fashion industry by the studio’s work. In order to celebrate this exhibition, we are even hosting Bethany William’s LFW Presentation, ‘The Hands that Heal Us’ at the London Design Museum, the very day the exhibition launches.”
Visitors will get to know the organizations that Williams’ studio has collaborated with, such as the San Patrignano drug and alcohol dependence rehabilitation program in central Italy, the Magpie Project for mothers and their children living in insecure housing in east London, and Adelaide House, a women’s shelter based in Liverpool. Each season, the studio collaborates with a different charity and donates a percentage of profits to the cause at hand.
Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial and the display’s curator said, “Bethany Williams’ work fuses a streetwear style with handcrafted forms that are rooted in human values. I see it as a joyous example of design that is socially produced and kinder to our planet. The display is framed around the notion of Alternative Systems because it shows the immense potential for the design industry – fashion and beyond – to confront social and environmental issues through more ethical ways of working. The exhibits unravel the voices of the studio’s many collaborators, their creativity sewn into the garments’ every stitch, and celebrate what inclusive design could be.”
Follow the design story behind each of the studio’s collections, including garments with stories embedded into them, such as the “Prison messages” sports jacket from the Women of Change collection, which features screen-printed words from letters exchanged between the women of HMP Downview prison in London and the women of the San Patrignano community about what change means to them. Alongside it is an image of the 1912 Suffragette Handkerchief embroidered by women at HMP Holloway, which inspired the design of this garment.
In the final section, visitors will get to know the work of the Emergency Designer Network, a collaboration between Phoebe English, Holly Fulton, Cozette McCreery, and Bethany Williams. Using their knowledge of textile manufacturing, they created a network that galvanized hundreds of volunteers and provided approximately 12,000 scrubs, 100,000 masks, and 4,000 gowns to frontline staff.