Bethany Williams’ upbringing in a creative and environmentally conscious family has heavily influenced her practice as a fashion designer. In her view, the fashion world ‘needs to work on creating social change, rather than exploitation’ and she uses her work as a tool for social empowerment.
Her recent collection Breadline (showcasing at London Fashion Week Men’s 2016), for her eponymous line, highlights hidden hunger in the UK, working alongside Vauxhall Food Bank and Tesco to develop an exchange of fruit and vegetables for waste items from the food bank users’ households. Using these waste materials and working with local craftsmen/ women, she has developed the surface of these waste materials to create hand crafted woven, printed, knitted and embroidered materials. Using waste cardboard donated by Tesco, she soaks it in water to separate its layers and fuses them into cotton which can be basket woven to create garments, the profits then going back to the food bank.
Williams’ line – ROOFLESS – started in 2013 when she was a volunteer at Brighton Soup Kitchen. She would give homeless people three warm items in exchange for one of their own and then use them to create a unique collection with sentimental value. A New Life – one collection from the ROOFLESS line – was show at Wood Street Plaza in Walthamstow, London in 2013.
In February 2019 Bethany won the latest Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. The award has been set up to highlight the role the fashion industry plays in society and diplomacy and the movement of young designers that are both talented and making a difference to society through either sustainable practices or community engagement.