How can you change the world with fashion? If you’re Priya Ahluwalia, the winner of Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design, you start by building a sustainable clothing brand. Since 2018, the queen has awarded emerging British fashion designers who are “making a difference to society through either sustainable practices or community engagement.” But how did Priya’s journey begin? It all started with a family visit to Lagos, Nigeria. While there, she noticed that local people were wearing old T-shirts from marathons in another part of the world. Odd, she thought? How did these T-shirts wind up so far away? She was intrigued and decided to research further.
It turns out that the clothing industry produces a lot of excess waste. After all, what happens to clothes that aren’t sold? What happens to extra T-shirts that are printed for a race or marathon? Well, a lot of these extra pieces of clothing wind up in the city of Panipat, India to be recycled. Fascinating, right? Sure, but the massive amount of extra clothing that winds up in Panipat is also a troublesome pattern. If no one knows about these issues, will consumer purchasing patterns change? Will the fashion industry change? That’s what Priya hopes to do with her sustainable menswear brand, Ahluwalia. It’s her ethical designs and efforts to change the fashion industry that made her the winner of this year’s Queen Elizabeth II Award for British Design. Priya is the fourth person to receive this award.
What can you do to make fashion more sustainable?