Spotlight on our sustainability stars

We’re celebrating some of the sustainable design talent we’re lucky enough to call friends – each one dedicated to prioritising the planet.

The emerging activist: Patrick McDowell

Upcycling aficionado and crystal lover Patrick McDowell (@patrick__mcdowell) is a firm believer that “we need a system overhaul” that focuses on “re-educating an industry bursting with creative potential”. “I’d like to see designers redesign their businesses,” he says.

“There’s such a great feeling to wearing something that doesn’t harm the environment or the people who made it,” adds the Liverpool-born designer and friend of The Bicester Village Shopping Collection.

Waiving the opportunity to showcase a new season collection at London Fashion Week in February, Patrick instead hosted a global fashion ‘swap shop’ in partnership with Swarovski and the British Fashion Council. “The idea was to show a collection without making anything new,” he explains. While style chameleons exchanged pieces from their own wardrobes for those from off the rails of donated items, others added upcycled Swarovski crystals to their outfits at a specially designated ‘Sparkle-up Table’.

There’s such a great feeling to wearing something that doesn’t harm the environment or the people who made it.

Patrick McDowell


The conscious curator: Rossana Orlandi

“Plastic is described as one of the biggest evils of our time”, says Rossana Orlandi (@rossana_orlandi). “We need to change our habits, to design and consume more consciously.”

The Milanese gallerist’s environmental initiatives were triggered when, in November 2017, she saw the amount of plastic littering a beautiful Sardinian beach. From there, her idea was born: “To involve the world of design into a global recycling programme, to explore … endless possibilities of transformation.”

This ethos evolved into ‘Guiltlessplastic’, which saw Rossana challenge designers from all over the world to express their creativity by creating products, objects and projects based on the reuse of plastic. The resulting designs, from a host of rising fashion stars, were displayed in The Creative Spot boutique at Fidenza Village last year.

The sustainable designer: Gilberto Calzolari

“Using sustainable materials is both an ethical and an aesthetic choice,” says designer Gilberto Calzolari (@GilbertoCalzolari_official), who wowed us with his eco-elegant designs when he scooped Best Emerging Designer at the 2018 Green Carpet Challenge Awards.

“I’ve always paid attention to environmental issues,” says Gilberto, who styled our summer campaign shoot last year. “Nature is one of my biggest sources of inspiration and it’s always played an important role in my work.”

Gilberto’s award-winning creation for the Green Carpet Challenge Awards – previously displayed in The Creative Spot boutique at Fidenza Village – was crafted from jute coffee bags, traditionally used as barriers against the flooding of the canals, a growing concern due to climate change. “I knew I could take the concept further,” he says. “I treated the upcycled jute as a real couture fabric, creating a tight-fitting bodice, lined with natural cotton muslin, with a ‘gocce’ draping to form a tulip shape. Finally I embroidered it with floral motifs in Swarovski’s Advanced Crystal lead-free crystals.”

The positive platform: The Maiyet Collective

Home to conscious, positive-impact brands, The Maiyet Collective (@maiyet) – which hosted a pop-up with more than 40 of its cutting-edge designers at Bicester Village in December – honours its promise to source exceptional pieces that benefit both their makers and the planet.

The Collective’s founder, Paul Van Zyl, says: “The future of fashion will require the perfect blend of ethics, desire, design and sustainability.”

So whether that means providing employment to smaller artisans, using only surplus waste materials or offsetting any environmental damage by planting trees, each creator is on a mission to make the world a better place.