Sneinton fashion designers featured image
Signe Dahl Sorensen (left) and Gay Bennett prepare for their fashion show on February 7.

Two Nottingham designers are coming together to launch a sustainable fashion show.

Gay Bennett (32) and Signe Dahl Sorensen (36) have joined forces to show how fashion and sustainability can go hand in hand.

Light Night, Nottingham’s famous event of eclectic and electric light installations featuring work by various artists, will take place from February 7 to February 8.

In connection with this, the two fashion graduates are putting on a show at 6:30pm and 7:30pm on the 7th at Sneinton Market, where all the garments presented are made by reused fabrics.

“This year’s theme is ‘life on earth’, which fits perfectly with our ideas of sustainability and the environment. All the fabrics were already in existence,” Gay said.

Signe added: “We use everything we have, and all of it is sourced locally and made from scratch.”

Every year, over 1 million tonnes of clothing is purchased in the UK alone. Only 1 per cent of these garments are recycled, while the rest ends up in landfill or are incinerated.

“It kills me” says Gay. “The amount of clothing that’s just wasted, instead of recycled or passed on.”

Signe shares the same sentiment. She added: “It’s crazy and silly. There’s no reason not to reuse it.”

Gay was taught how to sew as a child by her mother, and grew up wearing clothes bought in charity shops. Signe, on the other hand, learned the craft in her teens.

Sowing clothes
Gay was taught to sew by her mother, and enjoys repairing and redesigning vintage pieces.

The duo run their own businesses, but share the same Sneinton Market studio. Their brands are called Soul and Flare, and LSjatDS Studio, respectively.

“We’re normally separate, but decided Light Night was a good opportunity to collaborate,” added Gay.

Both women have a passion for redesign, but found their path in very different ways.

“For me, sustainable fashion wasn’t directly chosen, it wasn’t my goal,” explained Signe.

“But I always loved old clothes and redesign, and always liked making unique pieces, so I guess in a way it chose me.”

Gay, on the other hand, used to work in a vintage shop.

“I would go out buying for them, which is when I really saw firsthand how much clothing people waste. I only saw a fraction, but it shocked me.”

“We have so much material out there that we don’t need to buy new ones, but it’s just become the given thing. If you buy on the high street there’s no individuality, a thousand people could be wearing that exact same piece.”

Signe shows a piece she is working on for the fashion show.

They both agree that reducing fashion waste is important for several reasons.

“It’s important because everyone uses clothes, and because of pollution and becoming more conscious of that,” Signe said.

“I don’t want to judge people or tell them what to do, but I think there’s a mindset out there in a huge group of people that could change.”

Gay agreed: “There is a certain stigma in going to charity shops, where people might think it’s below them. But even just buying one dress in a vintage shop instead of brand new, or making one small change, at least you’ve done that one thing.”

Their main advice is: look at what you have, and recycle what you buy.

“The average person only wears a piece only a few times before they throw it out,” Gay added.

“Give it to a charity shop, pass it to a friend, or repair or resew it.”

1,130,000 tonnes of clothing are purchased in the UK every year.

But 73 per cent of clothes end up in landfill or are incinerated, and only 1 per cent is recycled.

Clothing production has doubled in the last 15 years, due to quicker turnaround of trends and an increased number of collections being presented.

On average, it is estimated that a garment will be discarded after only seven to 10 wears.

Extending the life of a garment by an extra nine months reduced its environmental impact by 20-30 per cent.