A new display explores the work of the London-based designer, whose studio transforms waste material and works with communities
From Bethany Williams’ ‘All Our Children’ collection, SS21. Photograph: Ruth Ossai
The Design Museum in London has opened a free display celebrating the work of Bethany Williams, a fashion designer dedicated to social and environmental sustainability. From using waste ribbon to create woven fabrics, to partnering with charities or constructing garments in collaboration with rehabilitation programmes, Williams’ practice has an activist and inclusive spirit at its core.
The London-based designer pursues an alternative vision for the consumer-driven and often unsustainable fashion industry. ‘Bethany Williams’ work fuses a streetwear style with handcrafted forms that are rooted in human values,’ says Priya Khanchandani, head of curatorial at the Design Museum and curator of the display. ‘I see it as a joyous example of design that is socially produced and kinder to our planet.’
From All Our Stories LookBook Shoot, SS22. Photograph: Christina Ebenezer
The display, Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems, explores both the designer’s work and the alternative design model that she proposes. ‘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,’ adds Khanchandani. The display also pays tribute to the Emergency Designer Network, a collaboration between Williams and three other designers which resulted in thousands of sets of scrubs being provided to frontline workers during the pandemic.
Exhibited across the four walls of the balcony gallery in the Design Museum’s atrium, the display presents the story of Williams and her studio through garments, archive material, photography, film footage and textile samples – including fabrics that have been made by repurposing waste.
Portrait of Bethany Williams
Some of the organisations that Williams’ studio has collaborated with include the San Patrignano drug and alcohol dependence rehabilitation programme 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.
Bethany Williams: Alternative Systems is on show at the Design Museum in London from 22 February to 4 September 2022