Exclusive Q&A on the High Streets and Town Centres in 2030 report. By Rafaella de Freitas

The High Streets and Town Centres 2030 report was the conclusion of an inquiry led by the Housing, Communities and Local Government Committee of the House of Commons. Town centres and the shopping experience have been reinvented with the next day deliveries, free returns and the comfort on not leaving your house, provided by online stores. This, combined with changing demographics, the trend of moving away from small towns to cities and the domination of chain commerce (how many Costa coffee’s do you walk past on your way to work?) has prompted a massive shift in the usage and scope for town centres and high streets to survive (and thrive )as our shopping habits change.

The Committee’s inquiry sets out to understand the role of high streets and city centres in sustaining social, cultural and economic health to local communities, and to evaluate the impact of the changing high streets on these.

More or Less Magazine x Matchesfashion: Designers Work Wonders With Waste. An Op-Ed by Trash4gold

It was refreshing to see designers featured that don’t have sustainability at the core of their brand. Vital conversations about waste are being opened up. Louise Gray made a splendid patch worked dress whereby strands of trimmings were attached in layers. Halpern used various fabrics from past seasons, creating a mish-mashed version of his signature sequin all in ones and Richard Quinn created a red floral dress using spare sample fabric. While Dilara Findikolu used old toiles creating a Miss Havishamesque gown with an embroidered D on the neckline.

Where Are All The Great Leaders? An Op-Ed by Nicholas Diamond-Krendel

Shortly before he died, Roy Jenkins commented that political journalism was something of a repetitive challenge when there were only two significant figures, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. He compared the barren landscape of the day with the fertile ground of the 1970s and 1980s when a columnist could reflect on the activities of Benn, Crosland, Healey, Owen, Williams, Thatcher, Joseph, Heseltine and, of course, Jenkins himself. 15 years on from Jenkins’ comment and the situation appears to be worse than ever. Can I be alone in hankering after the conviction and charisma of a Blair or the intellectual heft of a Brown right now? Looking along the front benches today, I’d have Cameron and Osborne back – true they may have set our country on this wretched course, but at least they had a certain swagger and sangfroid that the Brexit debate has sorely lacked.

Following Up From Our Meeting with Bectu - Why Fashion Needs A Union. By @fashionassistants. The Voice Behind The Anonymous Instagram Page Highlighting Systemic Abuses In The Fashion Industry.

We are working with BECTU to find a way to create a sector for creatives just like you and me. The assistants and freelancers in fashion, make up, hair, PR, the works! If this goes ahead (we need your support and there’s been quite the case of people showing support but not actually turning up) it would cost £10 p/month (same as Netflix and Spotify) and once you’re a member you can pay £38 for the year (April to April) to get full public liability insurance. If we started a space or means of contact which would allow us to share our expected day rates, warn anyone we needed to or advise each other where necessary then the constant problems we find ourselves facing could hopefully decrease and, who knows, maybe one day disappear.

London Fashion Week AW19. An Op-Ed by Bev Malik, Fashion Roundtable's Fashion Buying and Retail Director

For me LFW was all about an ease back with muted tailoring and an equal embrace of wild colour but worn in a grown up way. In a season marred by Brexit worries - fashion was seen as a defiant inclusive community - one capable of dressing in both a serious way and with a nonchalance that is almost recession proof. There was a return to heritage viewed in a refreshing way and the main theme of sustainability and inclusion was top of the agenda.

No Time for Games. An Op-Ed by Karen Binns, Fashion Roundtable's Fashion and Style Director

This season, London designers are taking it to a whole new level. They are showing more than cool ideas and fun tricks of over-styling. They’ve become more fortified and more powerful then ever.
The bar has been raised, and there’s no more room for fun and games. From Ricardo’s Tisci’s push into a more global and inclusive aesthetic of luxury from Burberry, Into Roksanda's consist climb to the top of elegant pret-à-couture. 
Yes bitch, she’s giving you Volume too, all day, and still keeping it a bit more youthful. Then the Parisians, just saying...

Fashion Accelerators - The Catalyst for Innovation & Sustainability in the Fashion Industry. An Op-Ed by Amy Nguyen

The fashion landscape is a rich tapestry of innovation saturated with revolutionary ideas that have the potential to propagate sustainability. Innovations today are the solutions of tomorrow. These innovations could be in raw materials, dyeing and finishing processes, manufacturing, retail strategies, end of use practices as well as transparency and traceability. Fashion accelerators are at the crux of providing a crucial platform for these innovations to drive value, whether it be economic, environmental or social to tackle the increasingly urgent issues of sustainability facing the industry. This may be mitigating social inequalities dispersed throughout global value chains or curbing devastation to the earths eco systems and biodiversity in order to ensure a safer operating space for current and future generations.

From The Factory Floor: Founder & CEO Of Fashion - Enter Jenny Holloway Responds To The Environment Audit Committee Report.

The EAC report is also wrong on the point that "Short lead times means that wash tests and wearer trials are often not feasible, with implications for garment quality". This is nonsense. Every single fabric has to be tested and approved. We make up to 10,000 garments a week and we have had to test every single fabric and if it fails the tests then quite simply we can’t use them.

Fashion Is Fabulous, But It’s Not Much Use If We’ve Nowhere To Live. An op-ed by Clare Press

Find me a fashion designer who hasn’t looked to Nature for inspiration, whether literally referencing flowers, trees, the oceans, the rainforests, animals, feathers or only the colours and moods of the wild or the weather. Bet you can’t, because our natural world is the source of the greatest, most diverse, most magical, spine-tingling beauty. It’s not just our home, but the source of all life. Including ours. We’d do well to remember this with every breath we take, because seriously, we’re trashing the joint. 

V&A Christian Dior: Designer of Dreams. An op-ed by Jodi Muter-Hamilton

Attending the opening evening of the V&A’s Christian Dior exhibition was a dream within a dream, thanks to the milliner, Stephen Jones. Not only did Tamara and myself immerse ourselves in the world Dior, exquisitely curated by Oriole Cullen alongside set designer Nathalie Crinière, but we were also incredibly lucky to have a guided tour around the exhibition by Stephen Jones. Opening up the wonder of Dior, Stephen Jones (who has worked with the hour of Dior since 1996) shared his incredible insight into the history of the brand and the life of Christian Dior. The stories Stephen unfolded included how a classic black suit displayed in the exhibition was created for a lady who won a Daily Mail competition and the fact that Dior previously made stage make-up, including fake blood. Imagine, Dior Fake Blood - pure genius!

Women Leading in AI Manifesto Launch Event: why and how to legislate for AI

The stronger the presence of AI in our day-to-day lives, the more vulnerable we are to bias present in the algorithms, especially if algorithms are being used to approve or reject loans, screen job applications or to inform social workers. Algorithms rely on data, and when the decisions being made by algorithms is on human lives and interactions, the data used for predictions is a record of how people have interacted in the past and of how society is structured. And it is no surprise that power hierarchies and social dynamics work exist and that people are privileged for simply for having certain characteristics. The challenge becomes how to deconstruct bias in the data so that AI can be an effective tool to improve our lives.

Q&A with Dr Lisa Cameron MP, Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group For Textiles and Fashion (pictured centre, here with Tamara Cincik and Kelly Tolhurst MP).

Have you seen a shift in perception of the fashion industry among parliamentarians?

Yes, there’s a surprisingly avid interest that I’ve noted amongst cross-party members regarding the fashion and textile industry. Since becoming chair and raising the APPG’s ambitions in Parliament, I’ve found widespread support for these aims across the house. 

The PR move that left Boohoo looking sheepish. An op-ed by Eleanor O'Leary

Last Friday afternoon, the press was abuzz with news that Boohoo had plans to implement a ‘wool ban’.

In a statement that seems to use the word ‘knowingly’ to suspicious effect, the brand announced that “as of AW19/20, we will not knowingly source any wool products”. PETA’s Director of Corporate Projects, Yvonne Taylor stated “PETA is toasting boohoo group's compassionate, business-savvy decision to scrap wool. Kind shoppers agree that no jumper or scarf is worth kicking, punching, and killing gentle sheep on the shearing floor, and we're urging other retailers to follow boohoo's forward-thinking example.”

From a brand that was declared as “failing to commit” by the Environmental Audit Committee in its recent investigation of British fashion brands, this move would be considered a real step in the right direction, yes?

Breaking the Fourth Wall. An op-Ed by Kshitija Mruthyunjaya

The French philosopher Denis Diderot defined the ‘fourth wall’ as an imaginary barrier that divides an audience from the world in a theatrical play. This barrier forms a setting to transport the audience into an imaginary world, away from the real world. Diderot’s concept of a ‘fourth wall’ can be used as a metaphor for the role of advertising in present-day economic system of production, distribution and consumption. There is an enormous disconnect between what Barthes calls real garment (produced) and used garment (consumed) as the represented garment (advertised/distributed) fails to mediate the truth between the producer and the consumer.

Interview with Zebedee Management: The UK’s First Inclusive Modelling Agency

Since launching in early 2017, Zebedee Management has become the UK’s first modelling agency to exclusively represent people with physical and learning disabilities. With clients including luxury womenswear brand Teatum Jones and popular high-street stores like River Island and H&M, they are fast proving that diverse casting is the future. Founded by sisters-in-law Zoe Proctor and Laura Johnson from Sheffield, the idea for their agency arose during a discussion about the severe lack of opportunities for people with disabilities. According to the pair, it was truly “a light bulb moment” while out walking their dogs. In reality, this shared desire to champion diversity was by no means a spur of the moment decision, rather it was a culmination of years working in parallel industries; where Laura is a qualified social worker with a wealth of experience working with vulnerable adults and children, Zoe is a performing arts teacher specialising in teaching people with disabilities.

Are we using our intelligence to get the best out of AI and tech? An Op-Ed by Fiona Carter

On a wet miserable February evening, a sell out crowd gathered at GCU to hear an illustrious group of speakers talk about Fashion-Tech, Disrupting business models, AI Innovations and Fashion Futures. Quite an agenda, but all with the desire to be inclusive, informative, and disruptive. Fashion has always been the enfant terrible of the business world. However, lets not forget that it provides the UK with £32 bn GDP which is over 20 times more than fisheries at £1.6bn GDP. Where is our minister for fashion, I ask?

“We want to ensure that anyone can feel heard, included and involved”: Q&A with Huda Jawad, the co-organiser of Women's March London. By Lottie Jackson

On Saturday 19 January, thousands gathered in protest of gender inequality, and more specifically to call out the economic hardship severely afflicting women in the UK. This year’s ‘Bread & Roses’ theme was an allusion to the Bread and Roses March 1912 which revolutionised working women’s rights in the United States. Protesters who congregated in Trafalgar Square witnessed a fantastic line up of speakers from the Fawcett SocietySolace Women’s Aid and the Women’s Equality Party. Following the event, I caught up with the co-organiser of Women's March London, Huda Jawad over email to discuss the ongoing role of this global, female-led movement.