Runway, Emerging Designer

How Bethany Williams Is Building a New Fashion World

The designer puts social impact and manufacturing first—sharing her ways of working freely with her peers.

5/11/2021 3:16:00 AM
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The designer, who has just been announced the winner of the BFC and BritishVogue’s Designer Fashion Fund, puts social impact and manufacturing first—sharing her ways of working freely with her peers

The designer puts social impact and manufacturing first—sharing her ways of working freely with her peers.

Photo: Ruth Ossai / Courtesy of Bethany WilliamsPhoto: Ruth Ossai / Courtesy of Bethany WilliamsAfter speaking with her for 20 minutes, you get the sense that Bethany—or Beth, as everyone calls her—is completely knitted into a caring and careful fashion community. There is no Bethany Williams, the brand, without the people that make it, a point hammered home by the soft cheers and giggles heard just off camera on our call.

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The prize money she’ll receive from the BFC/BV program, she explains, is not really for her either. “We really want to be able to use the grant to create as many jobs as possible, as well as training programs and opportunities,” she said. The first step is working with

Making for Changeon its new warehouse and studio in Poplar, on the east side of London. There, Williams will set up an entire studio, textile recycling program, and atelier, so that women previously in the prison system can have gainful employment. “Especially after COVID, there are high levels of unemployment in the U.K. and we are really interested in being able to share and develop our craft techniques—including with other designers,” Williams said, explaining that she hopes the studio can become a hub and resource for designers across the U.K.

That sharing of information, technique, and craft isn’t limited to her manufacturing. For the better part of the past year, she has hosted free mentorship and training sessions on Zoom. “We don’t do any unpaid work or unpaid internships, but we have a lot of requests,” Williams said. So “every last Friday of the month we have free tutorials, and we invite anyone that applies to work with us to have a tutorial with us as a studio. We talk about everything: career advice, suppliers, textile innovation, social manufacturing.”

Read more: Vogue Magazine »

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