In our new three-episode series, Inside the Atelier, international fashion director and journalist Zadrian Smith meets five of London's most promising young design stars, who were all nominated for the BFC Foundation Award at this year's Fashion Awards. Smith is a member of the British Fashion Council's diversity and inclusion steering committee - something which he has long been an advocate for within the industry - and was involved in the selection process for this year's award nominees.
In this second episode, Smith meets Priya Ahluwalia and Bethany Williams, who take him inside their respective studios for an up-close look at the way they work - from design to construction - and discuss their hopes for the future of the fashion industry.
A sustainable fashion designer, humanitarian, artist and social advocate, Bethany Williams is shifting the conversation on how fashion can have a greater impact and create positive change. Her approach to design looks beyond the clothes and integrates often ignored and disadvantaged communities.
"I really love the innovation of taking something that's been discarded and giving it time and making it beautiful," Williams explains of her circular fashion practices. Of the advice she'd give to other designers who want to be more sustainable with their work, she says: "Don't put too much pressure on yourself. There's so much eco anxiety. For me, sustainability isn't just about the environment, it's about people and connecting to community projects."
Inspired and motivated by her mother, Priya Ahluwalia has put her South Asian and Nigerian culture at the forefront of her work, as both a menswear and womenswear designer. She sees herself more as a creative director, having also published two books and directed films, and is working to make sustainability more accessible through a groundbreaking new circular fashion platform.
"Coming into the fashion space where there were no Black female designers or South Asian female designers, my mum always gave me the motivation and the belief that I could do it, so all of it is because of her," Ahluwalia tells Smith. "My job is amazing; I get to create and work with brilliant people. If I got told that when I was at uni I would never have believed it. I just feel like it's an honour to be able to be heard."
Watch the full episode of Inside the Atelier with Priya Ahluwalia and Bethany Williams above, and the first episode with Bianca Saunders and Richard Quinn here. Check back soon for our final episode with BFC Foundation Award winner Nensi Dojaka.
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