London-based textiles designer Maddie Williams works as ethically and sustainably as possible, for instance using old Royal Mail sacks in her renewable designs. Her garments are mainly made up of reclaimed and repurposed materials as well as organic and ethically sourced, natural fibres. Speaking to It’s Nice That, Maddie tells us “I have a love of texture, I’m always trying to find ways to create new fabrics that make people wonder what they’re made of, or want to touch”. Maddie’s collections repurpose materials such as bicycle tyres, army surplice parachutes, tarpaulin and carpet underlay. The designer creatively finds uses for any found material which informs the structure and ideas of the beautifully, vibrant garments.
Maddie’s design process involves a lot of trial and error due to the experimentation with found materials. She works intuitively, using resources at hand to weave together or create stuffed, appliquéd samples. “I was particularly pleased with my faux-fur type textile I used in my graduate collection that was made our of shredded and re-woven plastic Royal Mail sacks. There was no planning at all, I was like wow, this is something really new and interesting”, explains Maddie. “Some textiles I make are absolutely terrible. It’s hard to find the balance between something that looks home crafted and something that’s a luxury product”.
The textiles designer constructs silhouettes on a mannequin similar to building an experimental sculpture which is then translated into a flat pattern. “I want my work to show that ‘eco’ fashion can still be visually exciting and push ideas beyond the fact it’s ‘sustainable product’”, says Maddie. This is evident in Maddie’s new collection which imagines a group of Goddess-type figures. The collection is based around a dystopian/utopian future, “unhindered by the constraints of advertising and corporate power”. In this future, “the women choose to dress in a way that celebrates their own bodies”. The clothes highlight their feminine attributes to make themselves feel stronger, contradicting the idea in fashion that women should broaden their shoulders like men to feel more powerful. In this matriarchal, speculative reality, women also make their own clothes out of waste left behind by the previous civilisations as well as use renewable materials cultivated and crafted themselves. Maddie hopefully reimagines the fashion industry in this female-centred alternate reality, opposing the harsh reality of the current fashion industry which is often predicated on slave labour and misogyny.
Maddie’s work is informed by numerous threads of research spanning from Art Brut, Ancient Green philosophy, witches and Pagan celebrations. “My silhouettes are inspired by Ancient Fertility figures such as wooden, carved figurines that were made to celebrate female re-generative power across the globe”, the designer explains. These figurines exaggerate the female body to represent natural and heightened fertility, whereas in Maddie’s collections, she explores what femininity in fashion really is. Without a doubt there are exciting things ahead for this young designer. Maddie hopes to embark on a masters degree in sustainable fashion, but for now, she continues to question her place in the materially wasteful fashion industry in the hopes of launching her own renewable brand eventually.
About the Author
Jyni became a staff writer in March 2019 having previously joined the team as an editorial assistant in August 2018. She graduated from The Glasgow School of Art with a degree in Communication Design in 2017 and her previous roles include Glasgow Women’s Library designer in residence and The Glasgow School of Art’s Graduate Illustrator.