DUCFS, Sparking A Discussion Around Environmental Issues Surrounding Fast Fashion

Student-led fashion show, by Durham University, will not only have Christopher Raeburn involved, but they also plan to shed light on the new wave of conscious consumerism.

Durham University Charity Fashion Show (DUCFS ), the largest student-led charitable event in the UK, has decided to support the Environmental Justice Foundation (EJF) for their 2019 show. Their aim is to raise awareness and £125,000 to tackle the environmental crisis and shed light on the ecological and social issues surrounding fast fashion.

Image Credit: DUCFS

In 2019, the 25-strong student committee will be raising the money by putting together an event that will take you on an immersive experience, exploring the rapid pace and toxic impacts of the fast fashion industry to celebrating the new wave of conscious consumerism. It is a tactic that has worked well previously. In 2018 the fashion show sold out in 2 seconds and raised £106,000 for mental health charity MIND in 2018.

Dedicated to furthering the cause is Sasha Reviakin. He is one of the voices amplifying the DUCFS movement which is centred around engaging with the millennial generation in a personal and focused way. Taking a moment from his busy schedule, Sasha told us about DUCFS ‘ goals and achievements and how technology can be used as a tool to achieve sustainability in the fashion industry.

Tell us a little about DUCFS?

The Durham University Charity Fashion Show is now the largest student-led fundraiser in the UK after we raised £106,000 for the mental health charity Mind last year. This year we’re aiming to break our record by raising £115,000 for the Environmental Justice Foundation, an incredible charity that links environmental and human rights issues. We’re so lucky to have a platform like DUCFS to raise awareness of the problems that affect our generation most, and we’re doing our best to expand the movement as much as we can, during and beyond the show. The show itself will run over three nights this year, from the 31st January-2nd February, and we’ve been organising a series of pre-show events, from clothes swap to an arts showcase to a Festival of Sustainability, to help raise money for EJF and spark a discussion around environmental issues.

Following the unparalleled success of the 2018 campaign and show, DUCFS was awarded Best Society Event at the NUS’s National Society Awards 2018. [Image Credit: The Dots]

Sustainability is a hot topic. What made you decide to support an environmental charity?

Well, for us, there is no bigger issue than the environment. The recent IPCC report made it more apparent than ever that we need real change in policies, habits and attitudes to save our planet. We also have a responsibility as a fashion show to recognise the impact the fast fashion industry is having on our world. I have been shocked to learn more and more about the different ways that the clothes we wear impacts our planet and her people. By working with EJF, we want to show that fashion doesn’t have to cost the earth and that the right choices can make a real difference. Choosing an environmental charity also means that we can support the incredible sustainable designers there are out there, who design consciously with our planet in mind. For example, we are so excited to have Christopher Raeburn involved with the show, as his eponymous brand is without doubt one of the biggest names when it comes to sustainable fashion.

What is sustainability to you?

Sustainability and environmental issues can often feel abstract and unfathomable. Especially living in the UK where our streets are clean, where there is education about recycling and other sustainable initiatives, it’s sometimes hard to understand precisely how our actions impact our environment. So that’s sustainability for me- making small individual changes to our consumer habits which I believe will have a ripple effect across society.

“Choosing an environmental charity also means that we can support the incredible sustainable designers there are out there, who design consciously with our planet in mind.”

You are organising a festival of sustainability on the 26th January 2019, tell us a little bit about the event?

So this is what I am most excited for this year. Our speaker series will bring those who continue to work diligently for a more sustainable society closer to the student population and help engage them and the local Durham population with our movement, at the same time providing a platform for discussion and debate. We have some brilliant speakers already lined up, and lots more waiting to be confirmed. Just as a sneak peek, we can’t wait to welcome Abbie Morris, the CEO of Compare Ethics, Julie Hill, the chair to WRAP, and yourself, Muchaneta Kapfunde! But alongside the exciting speakers, we have coming; we’ll also be featuring poets, musicians and artists, who will perform around themes of sustainability and bring real merriment to the day. There will also be a brands showcase, where sustainable brands and initiatives can exhibit their work and wares. The festival is happening in and around the Durham Cathedral, which is incredibly exciting and an excellent opportunity for us to engage with our local community.

Image credit: DUCFS

What are the main takeaways that you hope those attending your festival will leave with?

I think the most important things we want people to walk away from the festival with, are questions. Working on DUCFS, I have questioned so many aspects of how I consume, and if we can encourage more people to examine the impact of our decisions, then we have achieved our goal.

Are there any specific brands that have used technology to take a more sustainable approach that you are quite impressed with?

What’s brilliant is that the number of powerful brands using technology to take a more sustainable approach is growing every day and that lots of existing brands are now moving in a more eco-friendly direction. For example, in sportswear Adidas’ collaboration with Parley to create the first high-performance products made from ocean plastic, and similarly Player Layer’s eco-friendly range of leggings made from recycled water bottles.

Adidas x Parley: Adidas created the world’s first shoe upper made entirely of recycled ocean plastic and gillnets.

How do you hope to continue to engage the student body in the role that technology plays sustainably?

I think when it comes to fashion, lots of students assume that it’s something for artsy, humanities students. People don’t necessarily think of themselves as being able to engage with it if they’re not. But that’s why it’s so important to bring together as wide a range of people in our movement. So by opening up a dialogue within Durham and beyond, and showing how students interested in technology can apply themselves, we hope that we can encourage our generation to activism and change.

Featuring solely sustainable designers, sponsored goodies, new models, and plenty of surprises, the Black Tie three-night spectacle will be taking place from 31st January until 2nd February 2019. Unfortunately, the tickets to the event have already sold out, 24 hours after release on the 28th November 2018.

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Founding editor-in-chief & WearableTechStylist of FashNerd.com, Muchaneta has worked in the fashion industry for over 14 years. She is currently one of the leading influencers speaking and writing about the merger of fashion with technology and wearable technology and a regular contributor to digital news sites like Wareable.