Climate change is an ever-present modern-day calamity, which however much we try and avoid it is undeniably toying with our collective conscience. It’s much like that dreaded trip to the dentist, we need to face the fear to treat the decay and minimise the damage. The fashion industry’s questionable ethics and environmental impact (soil, water, air usage) have been treated as much more than a fad by the public with an increase in second-hand clothing apps, online consumer questioning and brand boycotts. Style still has so much to offer, including a sense of identity, connection and empowerment. Consider the bond a sea of football supporters share in their teams’ kit colours or the power a heavy metal fan feels when donning a leather jacket. A more sustainable system is therefore vital and Bath Spa final year student Hannah Stote transmuted this truth into her award-winning ‘A Sirens Call’ knitwear collection at London Graduate Fashion Week in June.
The collection was inspired by nineteenth century fisherman folklore. It was told that the north of England fishing villages each had unique gansey/jumper stitching which stood out for those lost at sea as a fashion flare of identification. Each jumper was crafted with care and had a significant sense of community. Photographer Frank Sutcliffe’s emotive portraits of 1890s' seaside town Whitby underpinned Hannah’s design disposition. As a synonym to the sea the clothing has great depth with a fabric structure of 100% biodegradable wool yarn sourced from British sheep. Waste and recyclability have also been considered as the pieces can be un-ravelled and re-knitted. ‘[...]if I’m going to be putting more clothes out into the world, they should be ones with the least amount of impact on the planet (Hannah Stote)'.
Some of the key pieces from Hannah’s stand-out catwalk show include an oversized mustard partial knit loop dress and weave. With sleeves to the ground the dress resembles an octopus or more fluid form of marine life. The fibres resemble a worn fishing net and are fully authentic in form with marked traces of seaweed residue. The cream knitted coat aesthetic has coral-esque plaits, loops and cables and the long train is similar to the scope of a wave at sea. The off-the-shoulder draped dress offers a combination of green, cream and yellow colours with a washed-up weave algae embellishment. The lace knit wrap skirt has mermaid/merman scales and a flared fish tail. The finer details have not been discarded as a couple of the designs are paired with vintage slips which add a helping of historical significance also.
Hannah’s work merges innovation and tradition and is hand sewn with spirit and meaning. She rightfully received the ‘Talent of Tomorrow’ accolade and is one of many rising international fashion stars presenting us with sustainable solutions to let us continue to enjoy clothing and untangle our more dubious fashion footprints. ‘I want people to consider the value behind their clothes when they see my work and appreciate the craftsmanship behind fashion (Hannah Stote)’.