Hundreds of people attended Chester’s sustainable fashion showcase during Cheshire Fashion Week 2023, which also featured an exhibition on Chester’s fashion history.
In their summer launch, the organisers of the 2023 summer shows challenged both the purpose and role of fashion week by setting a new standard for environmental credentials by developing a set of sustainable requirements for participating brands and designers as part of the citywide heritage festival celebrations, incorporating Chester’s Fashion History with the festival.
As the largest fashion event in the North, Chester’s Cheshire Fashion Week drew hundreds of fashion, heritage, and sustainability enthusiasts combining with the Chester Heritage Festival celebrations to celebrate the City’s decades of sustainable practices, ideas, and stories.
To accomplish its sustainability mission, the event, held at Chester Town Hall, placed emphasis on community and social responsibility rather than impressing the international press and buyers. A collaborative effort between Chester’s Grosvenor Museum, Chester Heritage Festival, Hair Heals Organisation, and textile educator Rachel Davies made the Chester Fashion Festival a huge success.
Visitors were invited to browse a free exhibition supported by the Heritage Fund and Chester Fashion Contemporary showing memories from ‘Browns of Chester’ which showcased changing trends through collections from Cheshire archives of fashion shows from Paris to Chester by Pierre Balmain and the transition from real fur to banning the fur trade and adopting sustainable practices.
The exhibition also featured pieces from the Grosvenor Museum curated clothing and Rachel Davies textile educators’ one-to-one talks and displays of upcycled and deadstock clothing.
The main stage at Cheshire Fashion Week then featured conceptual designs, all focusing on sustainable fashion and setting itself apart from the main fashion weeks – New York, Milan, Paris, and London.
Cheshire Fashion Week CEO Claire Namukolo Raven said: “A big risk was taken by us to launch our summer shows in order to bring visitors to Chester and show Cheshire in a positive light by combining many elements that would be seen as polar opposites, such as fashion, heritage, community, history, and sustainability.
“There is a sense of inconsistency in displaying collections at glamorous fashion shows that were made in poverty and practices that are unsustainable. Therefore, we feel that we have played an important role and are setting an example. Our summer shows transformed the way fashion weeks are conducted by working with chains and sustainable designers who are not reliant on child labour and factories where clothing is produced in safe and fair conditions.
“Therefore, hosting Looks Chester, Harry Sutton, Apparel By Mo, A.T.K Fashion House, Shane Moore Designs, Brian De Carvalho, Formerly Known As, House Of Zana and chain retailer White Stuff, all of whom promote fair labour, was a pleasure.”